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.

Monday, June 04, 2018

WNBA Gamer: Connecticut Stays Perfect Winning at Washington in Exquisitely-Tuned Style Reaching 5-0




WASHINGTON – Less than a minute into the game and before fans could get settled into their seats, Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Oguwmike sprinted for a loose ball and crashed into her team’s bench while diving to save it. 


She succeeded in her mission. 


Oguwmike’s early hustle led to a Jasmine Thomas basket and set the tone. It’s that type of effort that has become a Connecticut hallmark during its early season success. Before the game was two minutes old, Oguwmike had a pair of steals and an offensive rebound. 


“I think the reason why we play so hard and don’t take any possession for granted is because we understand what it feels like to lose,” said Oguwmike after the Sun defeated the Washington Mystics, 88-64, at Capital One Arena Sunday afternoon before 5,176 frigid fans. 

“I know what it’s like to struggle so now that we are putting things together, we don’t take it for granted. It’s a blessing to see so many players bring something special to court this year.”


The merciless, selfless and relentless Sun (5-0) is off to its best start in franchise history. It’s the only perfect squad in the WNBA. 


Combining its variegated talents, Connecticut has hypnotized its opponents with exquisite shot-making, between-the-limbs playmaking, disciplined defensive choreography, breathtaking brilliance and superior steadiness. 


Finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals, Oguwmike was one of four Connecticut players to reach double figures. The leader for the Sun was Jasmine Thomas, who scored a game and season-high 25 points on 10-of-17 accuracy. 


Alex Bentley added 15 points and Alyssa Thomas dazzled with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. Courtney Williams tied her career best with 10 rebounds which complemented her nine points.


“My teammates told me to take my shot confidently and the last few games I have been struggling a little bit from the floor,” Jasmine Thomas said. “(The Mystics) were going under screens and I was looking for my shot. We understand it’s a long season and we’re taking everything one game at a time, whether at home or on the road, trying to have a really good start is important to us.”


With Jack Frost nipping at the noses of spectators and media members occupying the same venue as the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, Jasmine Thomas started fast. She was hot enough to melt the ice beneath the court. She scored 12 points in the opening quarter on 5-of-7 shooting to help the Sun to a 30-18 lead.


Thomas fueled a 12-0 closing burst in the final three minutes after the Mystics pulled to within, 37-35, following a Myisha Hines-Allen putback. Thomas sank a 3-pointer to start the run that produced a 49-35 halftime advantage.


The Mystics were temporarily saved by the bell. 


Connecticut applied the knockout blow after Washington scored the first eight points of the third quarter. The Sun’s defense held Washington without a field goal for the final 6:27 and scoreless for the last 5:25 of the third quarter. 

Meanwhile, the Sun ended the frame by scoring 18 of the final 19 points to open a 74-47 bulge entering the last quarter of regulation. 


Six different Sun players scored during that stretch of excellence for Connecticut.


“We’re definitely having a good time,” Bentley said. “We’ve evolved as a team and we all know each other. 

“We have years under our belt where we are all comfortable with each other. The chemistry is great right now. We’re out for blood right now and we’re highly motivated. You can tell because we’re playing hard. Our defense is on point. We talk a lot and we get after it. We take pride in our defense and transition.” 


Washington rookie guard Ariel Atkins led the Mystics with 14 points. It was her fifth consecutive game in double figures and the first time she’s led the team in scoring this season. It was Washington’s third loss in its last four games. The home team and sister franchise of the NHL Washington Capitals  also played without Elena Delle Donne for the fourth straight game. 

Head coach Mike Thibault indicated she will be out at least another week.


Mystic forwards Tianna Hawkins and Monique Currie had 10 points each. Center Krystal Thomas led the team with six rebounds. Playing in intense pain while waiting to pass a kidney stone, Natasha Cloud led Washington with three steals.


“It makes a big difference when you’re missing your best player who is an MVP-type player,” Thibault said. “That hurts us, but that can’t be the only reason we played like we did. Every team goes through that. We proved this past week – she didn’t play the second half of the Minnesota game, she didn’t play in Seattle and Phoenix, and we played great basketball. Something was missing.”


NOTES: Connecticut continues its four-game road trip by visiting Atlanta Tuesday night … The Mystics host Minnesota Thursday at 4 p.m. in a game time that was changed to accommodate the Capitals Stanley Cup Final viewing party for game five when the series shifts back to Laa Vegas… The Mystics outscored the Sun, 32-26, in paint points … This was Washington’s first home loss of the season.




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