Smith Carries Mercury Over Lynx

By Mark Heller
East Valley Tribune
July 23, 2007

Having torched her (briefly) former team for the second time in three meetings this season, the Tangela Smith smile was back.

The Mercury’s lean center began slumping three games ago against San Antonio. Even though she was rebounding and ultimately reaching her scoring average, her shot struggled.

Scoring looked easy for Smith and the high-flying Mercury on Sunday during their 106-93 victory against Minnesota at US Airways Center.

The win allowed Phoenix to climb within percentage points of second-place Sacramento, and two games behind San Antonio.

Smith, a 10-year veteran, was property of the Lynx following the Charlotte dispersal draft. She knows she just as easily could have been on the other side, playing for Minnesota.

Instead, Smith was acquired by the Mercury in a draft-day trade for their No. 1 pick, Lindsey Harding.

The Lynx (5-20) are in an eight-game losing streak, and Harding is out for the season after she suffered a torn ACL last month.

Smith swished a careerhigh four 3-pointers, used upand-under moves inside and drove to the basket. Her 24 points and six rebounds came early and quickly.

“Maybe it was the trade,” Smith joked. “I don’t know.”

Either way, her 8-for-25 combined shooting the past three games was a distant memory.

For more coverage of Phoenix sports,
be sure to visit

Phoenix (13-10) began its previous two games poorly, but Mercury coach Paul Westhead ran plays for his 6-foot-4 center from the onset, and Smith scored nine points in the first seven minutes to keep the Mercury on pace.

She scored 17 points in the first half, and when she cooled off in the second, Penny Taylor took the baton.

With wobbly legs and a vest on her chest, Taylor had a game-high 28 points, nine rebounds, and shot 15 free throws.

She’s averaged 24 points her past 11 games.

“Another very normal game,” Westhead said of Taylor. “I don’t know how you defend her.”

In between, the Mercury bench responded. Kelly Mazzante, Kelly Schumacher and Belinda Snell chipped in with 24 points, 12 rebounds and gave a defensive boost in the second and third quarters,

The normally-grounded Mazzante sealed the game with a leaping offensive rebound and putback with two minutes remaining. “Some way, shape or form, we try to make something happen,” she said. “Whether it’s offense, defense, energy, that’s our role.” Cappie Pondexter and Kelly Miller each had nine assists for Phoenix. Seimone Augustus led Minnesota with 23 points and Nicole Ohlde had 17. The Lynx were solid on the boards, but had more turnovers (12) than points (nine) in the second quarter. These two teams match up again in three days, and Smith might be licking her chops. “I haven’t been scoring a lot lately,” she said. “When coach called my name you’re happy for the opportunity.”

COPYRIGHT 2007, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.