Detroit 72, Sacramento 52
Shock Stop Monarchs to Force Decisive Game 5 in Detroit
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 6 (Ticker) -- Katie Smith and Cheryl Ford carried the load to help the Detroit Shock extend the WNBA Finals to a decisive fifth game.
Smith scored 22 points and Ford added 13 with 10 rebounds as the Shock avoided elimination by posting a 72-52 triumph over the defending champion Sacramento Monarchs.
"There was nothing magical that the coaching staff did," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "This is about the players. The Finals are about a test of wills and who wants it more, and the players have to come and play. Today we did. You saw the intensity for 40 minutes in our ballclub."
Detroit broke open the contest by outscoring Sacramento, 16-2, in the fourth quarter to set a league playoff record for fewest points allowed in a period. The Monarchs did not score in the final 7:31 and shot 32 percent (20-of-63) for the contest.
"We watched a lot of film over the last 72 hours and we knew we had to come in and play hard, play our defense," Ford said. "In Game 3, they were getting too many easy points in the paint. (We knew) if we could limit their second shots and limit our turnovers, we'd be fine."
Smith hit a 3-pointer and a jumper, Elaine Powell sank a pair of jumpers and Deanna Nolan, Angelina Williams and Kara Braxton hit baskets in the fourth for the Shock, who finished with a 40-26 rebounding advantage.
"We played a little harder and we played a little smarter, and basically that's how we ended up where we were," Smith said. "We brought and matched their intensity for the 40 minutes."
Smith, who made 8-of-17 shots, scored 11 of her 17 first-half points in the second quarter. She buried a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a layup by Ford in an 8-0 run to give the Shock a 36-30 lead, which they never relinquished.
"I'm giving Katie Smith tomorrow off," Laimbeer said. "She played a lot of minutes today. I know she was tired. She made the big shots. Anytime (Sacramento) made a run, Katie Smith knocked down a three. Every time Katie got the ball with an open shot, before she even shot it, the crowd groaned. That's the best feeling in the world when you're on the road."
Nicole Powell scored 13 points and Yolanda Griffith added 10 with 11 rebounds for the Monarchs, who are trying to join the Houston Comets (1997-2000) and the Los Angeles Sparks (2001-2002) with consecutive titles.
"We're going back to Detroit, that's the bottom line," Griffith said. "We didn't do it tonight. We've got another game and we're going to fight. It just wasn't meant to happen tonight. We're not going to lose confidence. We've always been a team through the good and the bad. We're going to stay positive."
"We can beat them in Detroit," Monarchs coach John Whisenant said. "We have beaten them in Detroit. We beat them the first game in Detroit. We swept the season series in 2004 and 2005 with Detroit. It just comes down to, we've got to play."
Sacramento made 9-of-17 shots to take a 26-22 lead after the opening quarter. However, the Monarchs lost their momentum and shot less than 24 percent (11-of-46) for the final three periods.
"We were this way at our practice this morning," Whisenant said. "We were dead. I warned them that we were celebrating before the dance."