Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

WNBA: Washington Looks to Stop New York's Early 'Garden' Domination at Home

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

The Washington Mystics exhibited plenty of positives for three quarters against Atlanta Friday night.

Then the fourth quarter happened as Washington suffered its first setback of 2015 with a come-from-ahead 64-61 loss to Dream at the Verizon Center.

The Mystics held an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter before the Dream stormed back behind All-Star forward Angel McCoughtry, who scored 10 of her team-high 21 points.

Washington scored nine points over the final 8 minutes, 23 seconds of the fourth quarter.

Now, the Mystics (2-1 overall) get an opportunity to rinse the bad taste from their mouths as they visit the first-place New York Liberty (3-1) in an early Eastern Conference showdown Sunday night at Madison Square Garden beginning at 6:00 p.m.

The Mystics handed the Liberty their only loss, 67-62 on June 6 in D.C. The Liberty are unbeaten at home, having knocked off Atlanta, Indiana and Phoenix.

“We controlled the game for three quarters,” rookie guard Natasha Cloud, the former Saint Joseph's star out of Philadelphia, said. “Atlanta is a pressure team and they’re going to get up on you and force turnovers. We had some mental lapses and lost the lead in the fourth.

"The only thing we can do is to learn from our mistakes and move forward. Tonight was a bad loss for us. We have an opportunity to get a road win on Sunday. That’s our focus.”

Washington displayed flashes of brilliance for most of its game against the Dream on both ends of the floor.

Defensively, the Mystics limited the Dream to eight points in the second quarter.

Offensively, Emma Meesseman had an electric 21-point performance and Tayler Hill provided an energy boost with 15 points. Playing her first game of the season, Kia Vaughn was a force, finishing with nine points.

“Emma was great, it’s too bad we wasted it,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “She’s been terrific every game. We made every kind of mistake you could make in the fourth quarter.”

Meesseman is averaging 18.5 points per game over the Mystics last two games. She had 16 points in the first matchup against the Liberty. She has also pulled down nine rebounds each in Washington’s last two games.

New York is off to its best start since 2007 following its 68-57 win over Phoenix Thursday night. It was the Liberty’s first win over the Mercury since 2012.

The Liberty were dominant on the glass and in the paint, outrebounding Phoenix 35-23 while outscoring the Mercury 32-22 on the interior.

New York's early season rock has been, who else, but veteran Tina Charles. She’s led New York in scoring in all four games and is averaging 18.8 points per game.

However, she hasn’t been a solo act. Boyd and Stokes have energized the Garden with their play so far. They have become instant fan favorites.

Through Thursday’s games, Boyd and Stokes are category leaders among rookies.

Boyd averages 3.5 assists per game and Stokes hauls down 7.3 rebounds per contest. Stokes had a career best 11 rebounds against the Mercury.

“I think we have a lot of work to do but I think we have a really good group here,” Stokes said. “Obviously we are not perfect, but I think we can be really good. I’m just trying to do my part. I like to rebound and block some shots and give the team what they want from me and what they need from me.”

In addition, the Liberty’s defense has been suffocating to start the season. They are holding teams to 34.8 percent shooting, which is the best in the WNBA, after limiting Phoenix to 29.2 percent (19-for-65).

“Our defense is pretty solid,” New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. “I'm sure with this game here our field goal percentage defense will be tops in the league. We were (number) three going in and this is going to boost it even lower than that. Our defense is good.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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