Smith Rises as the Sun Set
The Shock didn't make it easy on themselves, committing 18 turnovers and nearly wasting a 15-point lead after the first quarter. The Sun evened the game at 71-all with 2:45 to play, but never went ahead. Shock guard Katie Smith soon delivered the dagger, a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left, to make it 76-71.
Smith scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, nine of them from long range. Forward Cheryl Ford notched her third double-double in as many games with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Pee-Wee Johnson had her best game in a Shock uniform with 12 points in 16 minutes.
Sunday's victory contrasted starkly with the Shock's performance Friday in New York, in which they had eight turnovers and only 12 points in the first quarter. Sunday, Detroit jumped out to a 10-2 lead and had their largest lead of the game, 28-13, after the first 10 minutes. Ford was active early, scoring eight, while Swin Cash added six points and four assists as Detroit mounted it's second highest-scoring first quarter in team history.
The Shock then followed it with their worst, scoring only nine points and letting the Sun come within 37-30 at halftime.
Both team's leading scorers were uncharacteristically off Sunday afternoon. Shock guard Deanna Nolan missed her first six field goal attempts before making two of her last three just before halftime. She finished with 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Nolan's slow start was just the opportunity Johnson needed to have a breakout performance in her new "third-guard" role. The first-year reserve had five points, one assist and no turnovers in seven first-half minutes, and she seemed to find her rhythm for the first time this season. In the third quarter, the Sun had cut the lead to four when Johnsonís triple pushed it back to 53-46. Johnson, who had been shooting 15.3 percent on the year, was 5-of-7 from the field and made both 3-point attempts, for her first with the Shock.
Two-thirds of the Sun's high-scoring trio of Katie Douglas (17.0 points per game), Asjha Jones (16.8) and Nykesha Sales (14.4) struggled mightily against the Detroit defense. Douglas went scoreless in the first half, missing six attempts, and finished with four points. One of the league's best free throw shooters, Douglas even missed both attempts from there. Sales did not fare better, shooting 1-of-8 for seven points.
Jones led the Sun with 20 points, and guard Lindsay Whalen was the team's most consistent performer Sunday with 19 points, five steals and three assists.
The Sun (4-3) visit The Palace on Friday.