Not this time, Washington
By Laura Panozzo
Notorious for being down after the first half, then rallying back to win, just as they had done the last time they visited The Palace, Detroit said no, not this time, Washington.
The Shock got back to their defensive roots for the game holding the Mysitcs to 18.8 percent shooting from the field in the first half and setting a new record for fewest points allowed in a half. The Shock found themselves up 29-13, with the same 16-point lead from the June 29th game and the question became, will the Shock settle or fight on?
“We know that Washington is a second half team and no lead is really safe with them,” said Shock guard Katie Smith. “They came out and tried to make a little run, but we withstood it and we were able to stop their momentum.”
Stop them they did. The Mystics began a 5-0 run in the third quarter but Smith’s 3-pointer ruined the plan as quickly as it came. Trying once more in the fourth quarter to put together a last minute push, the Shock once again denied them finishing the game 66-58.
“Well it was important to get a lead, there’s no question about that. We didn’t have our legs today, that was quite obvious,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “Last night was a very emotional and physical ball game, plus the bus ride back for five hours took a lot out of us and we got through it. Fortunately they also traveled so that was a big positive for us.”
The Shock finished their third game in four days, including their huge win against Indiana on Friday. Cheryl Ford sat out this game due to the inflamed bone bruise in her left knee after playing a combined 77 minutes in the last two games. So Laimbeer relied on his reserves to make a considerable impact against Washington.
“That was a game plan of ours. But the reserves knew it. We structured the line up accordingly, and today there’s no doubt that Katie Feenstra played big,” Laimbeer said. “I mean not only did she get 10 (points) and nine (rebounds) but her defense, the way she hedged, and got out there and she ran the floor well, is the whole package. I think she played great.”
“With her (Ford) out we knew that we really needed to step it up and fill that spot for her,” said Feenstra. “And with Katie’s 11 boards and Plenette Pierson’s play and my play, we just had to get the job done. We took it upon ourselves to get it done.”
The bench combined for 28 points and 20 rebounds. But they weren’t the only players to have big nights. Smith added 13 points on top of a new career high 11 rebounds.
“Last night was a huge game, she played a lot of minutes,” said Laimbeer. “And to come out tonight and to go for 11 rebounds, that’s just will and that’s just wanting to go out and get them because she knew Cheryl Ford was down.”
“It was a little bit because of Cheryl, but it’s been an emphasis for all of us to rebound,” said Smith. “Especially against Washington who’s long, athletic and they get in there and crash the boards hard. It’s just that we needed to limit their second shot opportunity and I just need more of a concerned effort every night to do that. Especially against Washington because that’s one of the ways they score.”
With the win the Shock move back to the top of the Eastern Conference one game ahead of Indiana who dropped to Chicago on Saturday.