Riley doesn’t play in return, Silver Stars win anyway

Shock Lose Focus and Game


Shock 68, Silver Stars 71Player of the Game
July 1, 2007
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI
Boxscore
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Leaderboard
Points:
(DET) D. Nolan, 24
(SAS) E. Buescher, 23
Rebounds:
(DET) C. Ford, 12
(SAS) E. Buescher, 16
Assists:
(DET) K. Smith, 5
(SAS) E. Buescher, 4
Blocks:
(DET) P. Pierson, 1
(SAS) E. Buescher, 2
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Ruth Riley on The Palace floor was a familiar sight Sunday evening. The way her former teammates performed on it was not.

Plagued by poor marksmanship and defensive lapses, the Detroit Shock lost to the shorthanded San Antonio Silver Stars, 71-68. The Shock (11-4) have lost consecutive games for the first time this season after holding fourth-quarter leads in both contests.

Friday night, it was a 16-point lead in the third quarter that turned into a one-point defeat at Washington. On Sunday, the Shock had their biggest lead of the game, 51-44, entering the fourth quarter. The Silver Stars – who were without two starters – outscored Detroit, 27-17, the final 10 minutes.

“The worst performance we have seen when I thought we would play okay,” lamented Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer. “Before the game started, I knew we were in trouble. But coming into today, I was very hopeful. But it was clear our minds were elsewhere.”

Katie Smith missed the second of two free throws with 5.8 seconds left that would have tied the game at 69. The Shock guard had been so clutch in games prior she was the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. But Smith’s misfires – she was 0-for-8 from the field and 6-of-10 from the foul line – sum up the team’s recent struggles. The Shock made only seven of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter and shot only 57.9 percent (22-of-38) from there in the game.

“The whole game was disappointing, you look at the entire stat line, you’re going to see across the board all the areas where it’s a matter of focus and a matter of energy and a matter of desire that we didn’t have today,” Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “And that’s something we have to find as a basketball team.”

San Antonio’s victory was hardly a case of “Ruth’s Revenge,” however. Riley, who spent four years in Detroit and was the 2003 WNBA Finals MVP in the Shock’s first championship season, was an unexpected scratch from Sunday’s contest due to a sprained left foot. But that didn’t stop her from walking to center court to receive her 2006 championship ring in a pregame presentation with her former teammates. It was the first game she missed this season.

"It was a little strange coming back,” said Riley, who was traded over the winter for center Katie Feenstra. “It was a differnt uniform, different team sitting on the other bench, but I have a lot of good memories from here and so it was fun to come and see some familiar faces." San Antonio was also without their leading scorer, Becky Hammon, who averages 19.1 points per game. San Antonio struggled without her, missing 24 of 34 field-goal attempts in the first half. For the game, San Antonio actually shot worse than the Shock, 34.3 percent to 37.3 percent.

All the missed shots left plenty of work for Cheryl Ford, who returned to the court for the first time since June 20. Ford had eight rebounds, seven defensive, in the first half. Her offensive rebound produced a three-point play that gave Detroit its largest lead of the first half, 31-25. She finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Deanna Nolan was the only Shock player in double figures with 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the field. She missed a potential game-tying triple in the waning seconds. “Right now I don’t think that we’re mentally here, I don’t know where we’re at,” Nolan said. “We have to come together collectively for 40 minutes and have that mentality and focus to just play hard for 40 minutes.”

After looking unbeatable at times throughout June, Laimbeer has opened July by challenging his players to re-examine how they’re handling defense of their 2006 championship. “I think each individual, and our team has to look at themselves and to find if they’re determined enough to come out and play as hard as they have to and together as they have to, to win basketball games,” he said.

The Shock averaged 79.2 points during their 10-1 start, but are averaging eight points fewer, 71.0, in their last four, going 1-3. The Shock have not reached 20 points in any of their last six quarters.

AfterShocks:

  • Riley was well received by Shock fans at The Palace. A few of them made welcome-back signs. "They were so cute,” Riley said of the homecoming. “I played here for four years and the fans were great. A lot of support, a lot of people said they miss me and said welcome back. It was just a great reception."

  • Amy Sanders was not at The Palace for Sunday’s game, and Laimbeer said that she would be released Monday morning. The rookie from Hawaii saw action in four games for eight minutes.