Shock Win Season Series vs. Sun
On Wednesday night, Ford again didn’t play, Braxton had two fouls by the 7:48 mark of the first and the Shock trailed 16-13 after one quarter. Fortunately for the Shock, they weren’t playing the Fever.
The Shock defeated the Connecticut Sun for the third time this season, 77-74, despite an admittedly disjointed performance by the WNBA’s only 11-win team. Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer feared a jet lag-induced letdown in the first home game after a week on the West Coast, but his team managed to avoid its first consecutive losses of the year.
“I told our team that after the game in Sacramento what was going to happen to them, and it showed itself,” Laimbeer said. “We were lethargic, we were sluggish, we didn’t play well. We didn’t play smart. We didn’t find the intensity necessary to win a lot of games, but we’re just fortunate that we won this one.”
The Shock gained just enough momentum in the third quarter to seize the victory. Detroit trailed 47-43 when Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan hit back-to-back triples, sparking the momentum-swinging 10-2 run. After trailing for all but 44 seconds in the first half, the Shock had a 59-53 lead entering the fourth and held the Sun off the rest of the way.
A steal and breakaway layup by Nolan midway through the fourth quarter gave Detroit its first double-digit lead of the game, 69-59. Nolan, who played all 40 minutes, missed her first five shots before scoring 17 points on 7-of-19 from the field. “I wasn’t worried about that (early slump) , I had great open looks I just wasn’t knocking them down,” Nolan said. “I knew it would change in the second half.”
Forward Swin Cash recorded her third double-double of the season with a team-high 18 points and 13 rebounds. “We have so many scorers on this team, a lot of times it comes down to mismatches, and when you’re down players you want to be aggressive,” said Cash, who had two of of her lowest-scoring games of the season on the four-game road trip. “I struggled a little bit on the West Coast on the road so I just wanted to come out tonight and try to be aggressive and make things happen. The ball was just falling the right way tonight.”
Eight of her points came in the first quarter as Cash and Shannon Johnson were the only Shock players to score. They were a combined 4-of-9 from the field while the rest of the team was a combined 0-for-6. “I thought Cash played her best game of the year. I thought that was a big positive,” Laimbeer said. “Took her a while to get going but she played well. Pee Wee’s starting to come around, that’s good for us. And Plenette played pretty steady. But we have to get more production from some of our bench players. Katie Feenstra didn’t play well, Braxton didn’t play well.”
For the second straight game, center Kara Braxton, the WNBA’s overall leader in All-Star voting, had more fouls (four) than points (three) in 16 minutes.
The Sun, who were without starting forward Nykeska Sales, found a spark in an unlikely place. Rookie Evanthia Maltsi, who wasn’t even on the roster when these teams met June 10 and had scored only eight points in six games, netted 3-of-5 from 3-point range en route to a game-high 11 points at the break. She did not score in the second half.
Forward Asjha Jones scored a team-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and had nine rebounds for the Sun (5-10). Connecticut has gone 1-8 since these teams met for the first time this season on June 10.
“We knew coming back from the West Coast it was going to be tough and Connecticut has been playing well on the road,” Johnson said. “So we just didn’t want them to get us here.”