Play of Monarchs' frontcourt trio leads to Game 3 victory
By Andrew Pearson, WNBA.com
From the opening tip of Sacramento's Game 3 domination of Detroit, it was evident that the Monarchs were making a concerted effort to get the ball into the hands of their talented frontcourt scorers. Thankfully for Coach John Wisenant, his faith was rewarded as the trio of DeMya Walker, Yolanda Griffith and Nicole Powell combined for 40 of the Monarchs' points in their 89-69 dismantling of Detroit.
Walker came flying out of the gate and set the tone early, converting a driving left-handed layup and the ensuing free throw to put the Monarchs up 7-2. She used her quickness around the basket to score seven of the team's first nine points and finished the first quarter with 11 total.
Although Walker didn't tally on the scoresheet for the remainder of the game, she was invaluable on the defensive end, helping to turn Cheryl Ford (11 points, 8 rebounds), Ruth Riley and Kara Braxton into non-factors. In fact, Riley and Braxton combined for zero rebounds in the first half. Walker's initial burst also forced the Shock to stay honest for the remainder of the game.
"They're drawing so much attention to me on the post, now everybody else is going to work and I'm cool with that," said Walker. "I'm cool with doing whatever I got to do, be it scoring, passing, rebounding, whatever it is. I felt this."
And go to work her other frontcourt mates did.
Griffith scored 10 first half points and over a four minutes stretch of the third period tallied five points, a block, and a steal that led to a fast break layup, putting to rest any talk of fatigue or her age.
"Yo is only 26," said Walker. "She's not 36. Whoever told you that was a lie. At the end of the day, Yo knows what it takes to play a good game, to show up big, to do the little things, and it's unusual, because she is our leader, but she plays her role well."
However, despite the outstanding play of both Walker and Griffith, the Shock were still within striking distance when the Monarchs went on the decisive run that turned an 11-point lead with 6:51 remaining in the third into a 22-point bulge by the time the horn sounded at the end of the quarter. Instrumental in that run was none other than Powell.
Following a timeout, Powell buried a 22-foot jumper, forced a steal and found a streaking Griffith for a layup. Less than a minute later, Powell knocked down an 18-footer and after Erin Buescher's miraculous three-point heave sent the Monarchs' crowd into a frenzy, Powell followed it up with a driving layup and foul of her own to essentially put the game out of reach.
"That whole run right there really just bumped us up to the next level," said Powell.
Quite possibly the most telling play on the night, though, never showed up in the stat sheet and served as an example of the disparity in intensity between the two teams. With her team up 20 and roughly seven minutes remaining in the game, Walker was still hitting the floor and fighting for loose balls.
"We know the only way we're going to win is if we play defense for 40 minutes, no matter what," said Walker. "We can't ever let up on our defense. If we do that, everything else works itself out."
With a championship hanging in the balance, Coach Whisenant surely is hoping for more of the same for Game 4. One thing he is certain to receive without fail, though, is effort from his frontcourt.