Monarchs on Brink of Second Straight Championship
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 3 (Ticker) -- Yolanda Griffith and the Sacramento Monarchs are in the process of proving history can repeat itself.
Griffith scored 15 points, and Nicole Powell added 14, as the Monarchs took control of the WNBA Finals with an 89-69 rout of the Detroit Shock in Game 3.
"It's a great home court. ... It's a good sixth man, and we're happy to have (the fan support)," Sacramento coach John Whisenant said. "That's why we wanted to be here and we certainly don't want to lose that home court this Wednesday."
On the way to claiming their first title last season, the Monarchs stole home-court advantage from the Connecticut Sun and then captured both home games to complete the series in four games.
So far, that has been the same blueprint Sacramento has used to take control of this series. After setting a Finals record for points in a 95-71 victory in the opener in Detroit on Wednesday, the Monarchs dismantled the Shock to move within a win here of a second consecutive title.
Despite failing to capitalize on an six-point lead entering the fourth quarter of Game 2 in a 73-63 loss, Sacramento came out fired up, using an 9-0 run at the start of the second to pull ahead, 29-18, with 7:46 to play. Rookie Scholanda Dorrell sank a pair of 3-pointers during the burst.
Griffith, the MVP of last season's Finals, scored her team's final eight points before the half to maintain an 11-point edge at the break, 44-33.
The Monarchs, who have won seven of the last eight meetings with the Shock here since 1999, put away the game at the end of the third quarter, closing with an 8-0 run for a 72-50 advantage.
"I told our assistants before the game that we were going to be in trouble from an energy and concentration (outlook)," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "I don't think we were ready to win a game in their building."
Erin Buescher provided the backbreaker, hitting a heave from behind the 3-point arc with the shot clock winding down to make it 67-50.
"I saw the clock ticking down on the other side of the court and just turned around and did some ice skating moves," Buescher said of the improbable shot. "Sometimes you throw them up and they go in."
With the large lead, Sacramento was able to rest the 36-year-old Griffith for much of the second half. She played just 17 minutes, raising the chances that the Monarchs will close out the series in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Despite the extra rest, the veteran Griffith expects closing out the series to be difficult.
"Because you're already anticipating victory," she said. "I think it's going to be tough because the pressure is on us. If we lose that game, we go back to Detroit. We might be a little tight.
"We've just got to relax and realize it's the exact situation we were in last year with Connecticut."
Buescher and DeMya Walker scored 11 points apiece for Sacramento, which hit 6-of-10 3-pointers and held a 42-17 advantage in bench points.
Deanna Nolan scored 22 points to be one of just two players in double figures for Detroit, which was once again plagued by turnovers with 23. The Shock had a Finals-record 24 giveaways in the opener.
"Our 23 turnovers we had today ... a lot of them were just dumb, throw the ball away, no aggression turnovers," Laimbeer said. "Just bad, bad plays."
Cheryl Ford scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Detroit, which shot 45 percent (24-of-53) despite missing all eight of its 3-pointers.