“For the fans to come out and be as supportive as they were (was special),” said Koehn. “When we were warming up they were chanting my name. It just means a lot to win it in front of them. I definitely fed off the crowd.”
Koehn, a third-year guard, scorched the nets for a contest-record 25 points in the final round to defeat a pair of Phoenix Mercury sharpshooters – Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor. The total also matched the NBA record of 25 points in a single round set by Craig Hodges in 1986.
Koehn’s lights-out shooting was no surprise to Mystics fans, or those who follow the WNBA for that matter. The three-point specialist owns a career three-point clip of 47 percent. However, she had a tough time sharpening her stroke leading up to the main event.
“Normally, I’m someone who gets in the gym and shoots a lot, but because the All-Star game was here the court was closed off from the time we played our last game until today,” said Koehn. “I had to find other places. I couldn’t practice on the practice court, so I had to find rinky-dink gyms around town, making it a lot harder to practice.”
Koehn was the last to shoot in the first round and had to match 19 points just to force a shootout. But the Mystics guard went beyond that, rolling to a first-round high of 23 as the Verizon Center crowd cheered her on. At one point, Koehn hit 10 straight shots, including all of the balls in the fourth rack.
After Taurasi opened with a score of 16 points in the final round, Taylor topped that with 19, meaning Koehn needed at least 20 to win the championship.
“I was just trying not to be nervous because the hardest thing in the contest is when you’re nervous and you don’t feel like you have any blood in your arms," said Koehn. “My biggest strategy mentally was just trying to relax and have fun and not think about it too much.”
Following a so-so first rack, Koehn went off, starting with the second ball in the next set. That’s when she reeled off a streak of 14 straight three-point hits, the last of which tied it and the victory was clinched two shots later, causing the throngs of fans to erupt in celebration.
She would finish by hitting 18 of her last 19 shots.
Taurasi put together a strong showing of her own after bowing out in the first round with a forgettable total of seven points in 2006. She poured in 21 points this time in Round 1 before being subdued by Koehn in the finals.
But even Taurasi had to be impressed with Koehn’s effort.
“Wow, she can shoot that ball,” said Taurasi. “That’s what she was born to do.”
Taylor held her own despite claiming before the competition that it wasn’t her strongest talent. She totaled 20 points in the first round, hitting 11 straight and 16 out of 18 at one point. Taylor also failed to complete the final racks in both rounds.
Katie Douglas of the Connecticut Sun, last year’s runner-up to winner Dawn Staley, posted an impressive round of 19 to start off, but due to the hot shooting of her competitors, she did not qualify for the finals. The same goes for the Sparks rookie Sidney Spencer, who also totaled 19.
Last year, 19 was the highest total in a round for the entire event (Staley).
“I had the disadvantage of going first. I don’t know how I get runner-up last year and have to go first this year,” joked Douglas.
Detroit's Deanna Nolan managed just 11 points in the opening round to finish out the field.
Washington's Laurie Koehn totaled a contest-record 25 points in the final round.
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