Mavunga’s jaw-dropping 26 boards helps No. 5 OSU rout Stanford

In a Top-10 match-up Friday afternoon, No. 5 Ohio State handled business against No. 10 Stanford. Thanks to Kelsey Mitchell’s 30-points (now second in OSU history in scoring) and Stephanie Mavunga’s career and school best 26 rebounds, the Buckeyes tallied their first win of the season.

 

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Columbus, OH — Stephanie Mavunga knows she can control whether she grabs a rebound or not.

Mavunga, a redshirt senior forward for Ohio State, knows she can’t control getting the ball or finishing shots. But she can rebound the ball.

No. 5 Ohio State defeated No. 10 Stanford 85-64 on Friday in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes didn’t shoot that well, but they did have 64 rebounds. Mavunga had 26 of those, breaking the single-game record that Mary Sivak held in 1979.

The thought of grabbing rebounds is stuck in Mavunga’s mind. Coach Kevin McGuff makes sure she knows to rebound every day. Mavunga even receives text messages in the middle of the day from associate head coach Patrick Klein that tell her to rebound.

She knows to rebound like a squirrel knows to gather nuts for the winter.

“You might think it’s not really a big deal or like ‘Coach, I can do this, I can do that,’” Mavunga said. “And he’s like ‘Alright, no, we’re going to do it again, we’re going to do it again. So it becomes your identity.”

Anytime the ball came off the rim, Mavunga seemed to be there, ready to put the ball back in the hoop. She fought for offensive rebounds down low, grabbing 14.

And when she had a chance to score off a putback, she usually did. Mavunga had 17 points. The Buckeyes shot 34.3 percent from the field – they didn’t have a good shooting night.

But because of Mavunga’s intensity down low, the Buckeyes were able to stave off bad possessions. The Buckeyes finished with 28 offensive rebounds.

“We got so many extra possessions it allowed us to kind of look good offensively with what we scored,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “But really it wasn’t a very efficient offensive night for us.”

McGuff said that Mavunga’s tenacity down low stems from her work in the off-season. He emphasized that she’s in the best shape of her life. Mavunga said that she practices in a hoodie most of the time.

With the hoodie on, she feels heavy. The hoodie has helped her gain this quality physical condition, though. The rebounds that she fights for inside don’t tire her out.

“I just run faster, I feel like I have more stamina,” Mavunga said.

The Buckeyes struggled to make shots, but they are the No. 5 team in the country for a reason.

After coming off a season in which it lost in the Sweet 16 to Notre Dame, Ohio State has returned eight upperclassmen for this season.

Including Mavunga, the Buckeyes had four players score in double figures. Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell led the team with 30, and Sierra Calhoun and Linnae Harper both had 15.

At one point, Mitchell didn’t even realize she was in double figures because of her average shooting night. Mitchell shot 43.4 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from three.

Mitchell and the Buckeyes have Mavunga to thank.

“Steph made it better for all of us,” Mitchell said.

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Penn State All-American Teniya Page fractures ankle

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

 

Penn State guard Teniya Page suffered a fracture/dislocation to her right ankle Thursday during an intrasquad scrimmage at the under-23 USA Basketball camp.

The camp is in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and USA Basketball said that Page was taken to Memorial Hospital. Page was treated at the hospital, and a timetable for her return is unknown. Penn State has declined to comment on the situation, sending media to USA Basketball’s statement.

“She has been released and will require an orthopedic evaluation to determine her follow-up care and treatment,” USA Basketball said in a statement.

Page, a junior, was one of the Lady Lions’ best players last season. She averaged 19.9 points per game, leading the team in scoring. Page led the Lady Lions to the third round of the WNIT last season, where they lost to Virginia Tech 64-55.

Not only is Page perhaps the best player on her team, but she is also one of the best in the country. She ranked No. 5 in scoring in the Big Ten, and she was also a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection.

Along with that honor, Page was also given honorable mention on the All-America team from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

Penn State’s season begins Nov. 10 when the Lady Lions will play against Siena at home.

Indiana’s dismal 27% shooting exposes lackluster offense

Ron Hoskins _ NBAE/Getty Images

 

The Washington Mystics and Indiana Fever both entered Friday night on three-game losing streaks. At the end of the night, one team would rid itself of the blemish – the other would continue to carry it.

The Fever were the latter.

Struggling to keep pace against the elite Mystics’ offense, Indiana couldn’t score and their defense wasn’t that good, either. The Fever lost 72-58 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, dropping a fourth straight game.

Indiana, a team that thrives because of playing solid defense, couldn’t be successful against Washington. The Mystics are one of the best offensive teams in the league, and well, the Fever aren’t.

Indiana’s struggles stemmed from not being able to score: they only made one 3-pointer for the game, and guard Briann January led with 15 points.

Part of the reason the Fever couldn’t score often was because of the number of fouls they committed. Indiana fouled 21 times, and the Mystics, the best free throw shooting team in the league, went 22-of-28 from the free throw line.

“What really hurt us in the first half is we sent [Washington] to the free throw line 21 times,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman said. “In the second half, they had just seven free throw attempts and we were even on the boards.”

Indiana couldn’t gain any momentum on the offensive end, only executing well on offense in spurts. They outscored the Mystics in the second half, eventually closing the deficit to 14 points near the end of the fourth.

“I’m really happy with the way we stayed the course in the second half,” January said. “We came back. We played better defense.”

But the deficit they had in the first half was too much to overcome.

The Fever’s offensive performance was the type of performance a team would want to forget, brush it off for the next game. But it’s also one Indiana should want to remember.

As they drop to 7-11, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern conference, the Fever need to start playing better on the offensive end. In the past four games, Indiana has shot an average of 37.7 percent from the field.

The Fever will be without Shenise Johnson, one of their best scorers, for the rest of the season. She tore her left knee ACL in practice Tuesday. So, if they run into a great offensive team like the Mystics, they’ll need to find a way to match in offensive output.

With Indiana’s top scorer Candice Dupree struggling to score, too, the Fever couldn’t rally behind anyone; Dupree scored four points, well under her average of 14.7 points per game. January, albeit the team’s leading scorer against the Mystics, thrives on jumpers. But even she only made one 3-pointer, the team’s lone one of the game.

As Indiana drop a fourth straight game, they will look to break it Monday against the Los Angeles Sparks in the Staples Center. The Sparks are the second-best team in the league behind the Minnesota Lynx.

“Midnight needs to come so we can put this behind us,” Chatman said. “There’s a really good team in L.A. that’s waiting for us. We need to regroup and get ready to play again.”

Washington struggled offensively — Ivory Latta, not so much

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Offense was a rarity Thursday night in the Verizon Center.

As the game ended, the Washington Mystics guard Ivory Latta stood next to a reporter for a postgame interview. In a game that was riddled with a combination of solid defense and missed shots, Latta perhaps wanted to show the crowd some semblance of offense.

“I want to get the crowd in it because they help us a lot of times to get these games,” Latta said.

With the help of Latta, the Mystics found ways to play decently on offense. The Mystics defeated the Liberty 67-54, extending their win streak to three games.

Latta was part of why Washington played decently on the offensive end. The Mystics ended the third quarter leading 46-34, so they hadn’t sealed the game. The Liberty could have made a comeback.

But they didn’t.

As the Liberty were in the middle of a 6-0 run near the end of the game, trying to make one last run, Kristi Tolliver passed the ball to Latta. Latta hit a 3-pointer with 2:29 left, and that was it.

The Mystics needed Latta to produce throughout the game. While the rest of the team didn’t make one 3-pointer, Latta did. She hit four triples and scored 15 points.

Along with Latta’s contributions off the bench, Tianna Hawkins and Natasha Cloud also produced. The three combined for 30 points, nearly 45 percent of the Mystics’ points. The only starter who had matched Latta’s production was Elena Delle Donne, who also scored 15 points.

“Our bench bailed us out. Our starters, our starting guards, struggled to shoot the ball, obviously,” Washington’s coach Mike Thibault said.

The game wasn’t typical of Washington, a team that can hit threes and possesses one of the best offenses in the league.

The Mystics shot 30.9 percent from the field, not close to their season average of 42.9 percent. The offense wasn’t as good Thursday. So Latta decided to be the team’s offense for the night.

“I was just trying to go out there and have a lot of energy,” Latta said. “You know me, I feed off the crowd.”

With 1:07 left in the third quarter, Latta drove to the hoop and scored after being fouled. She made the free throw to seal the three-point play, which created the 12-point lead for the Mystics heading into the final frame.

It was a lead that the Mystics needed.

Had Washington lost against the Liberty, they would have fallen out of first place in the East. And the Liberty would have taken possession of first with a win.

But Latta, who only averaged 8.7 points per game before Thursday, wasn’t going to let the Mystics lose. She wanted to win one for the crowd that got her going.

“They (crowd) help us a lot of times to get these games,” Latta said. “We just want to come out here and win for the crowd.”

The Mystics will look to extend their winning streak to four games, as they play the Los Angeles Sparks (10-3) in Staples Center on July 2.

Fever analysis: Indiana’s scoring lulls causes collapse

Chris Poss – Swish Appeal

 

As the Indiana Fever finished its game against the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday, Fever guard Briann January pulled up for a jumper. She made it, but that didn’t matter.

The Fever was looking to defeat the Sparks for the second time this season. Two wins against the defending champions would look nice on the schedule, especially with the playoffs still far away.

Indiana couldn’t defeat the Sparks though, one of the most dominant teams in the league, dropping the game 84-73 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, snapping a two-game win streak.

For Indiana, a good portion of the third quarter was bleak. Shenise Johnson scored the Fever’s first basket of the quarter with 4:15 left; Indiana allowed the Sparks to score 19 straight points to begin the third.

The Fever flipped the game to end the third, though, closing the quarter on a 12-0 run.

“I think we had a good first half, but second half, third quarter we didn’t match their intensity. They went on a 19-0 run. But we showed them we can compete because then we went on a 12-0 run. We just have to be able to do that coming right out of the half,” said Dupree.

Despite the 12-0 run, Indiana could never bring their momentum to fruition in the fourth. The Sparks maintained the lead because, well, they’re the Sparks.

They weren’t going to let the Fever come back from a deficit again.

On May 24, the Fever defeated the Sparks 93-90, overcoming a 14-point deficit. But the Fever was down by as much as 25 points on Saturday.

They simply could never recover.

“I thought we actually had good looks to start the second half,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman said. “We might have found some momentum if some of those shots had fallen, but I just don’t think we gave it our best shot.”

The game was largely lost in the third quarter. The Fever struggled to make shots, albeit going on a run at the end of the quarter. Indiana shot 42.2 percent from the field. Candice Dupree, the team’s leading scorer this season, led the way with 14 points and three assists.

Aside from struggling offensively, the Fever struggled defensively, too. Indiana couldn’t handle the Sparks’ size, with Los Angeles’ stars Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker scoring with ease against the Fever’s defense. Ogwumike scored a game-high 21 points, while Parker filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

“They [Los Angeles] are the best offensive team in the league,” Chatman said. “You have to give them some credit. We obvious (sic) couldn’t find stops when we needed them in the third quarter, and we needed to play better defense.”

As the first half of Saturday’s game ended, Indiana Fever guard January passed the ball to Erlana Larkins, who was cutting toward the hoop. Larkins made a layup, and though the Fever was down by as much as nine points in the first half, her bucket cut the Los Angeles Sparks’ lead to six.

That play didn’t signify the second quarter for the Fever. The second period was filled with the Fever taking good shots — they just couldn’t make them. After leading at the end of the first, Indiana was outscored by the Sparks 26-17 in the second quarter.

The Fever shot 45.9 percent from the field in that first half. But with only being down six against the Sparks, the defending champions, that wasn’t too bad.

With Indiana losing to the Sparks, the Fever will look to bounce back its next game on June 28, when they take on the Chicago Sky at Allstate Arena in Illinois.

Once WNBA’s worst, red-hot Connecticut rolling, streaks past NY

Chris Poss – Swish Appeal

 

The Connecticut Sun (6-5) defeated the New York Liberty (7-5) 94-89 on Friday in Madison Square Garden, picking up their fifth straight win. The win also marked the Sun going up 2-0 in the season series against the Liberty.

The Sun looked dominant to begin the game. Not so much at the game’s end, though. After leading by as much as 21 points, the Sun appeared flustered in the fourth quarter.

With about eight minutes left in the game, New York began to battle back — and Connecticut let them. Down 74-64 with 8:07 left, the Liberty began to attack the Sun on offense, something they didn’t do in the first half.

“You’ve got to give tons of credit to New York, what an unbelievable fourth quarter,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “I felt like they scored on every single possession.”

That’s not a foolish exaggeration from Miller, either. The Liberty were down 71-57 heading into the fourth quarter, and they outscored the Sun 32-23 in the fourth.

As the Liberty continued to attack, though, they also started to acquire defensive stops. With a layup from Shavonte Zellous, New York tied the game at 86 with 1:06 left.

Sun guard Courtney Williams stopped the Liberty’s late-game momentum, though, pouring in six points during the fourth quarter. Her small scoring surge came at the right time with just under three minutes, to keep the Liberty slightly behind.

“We thought if there were someone that could go make a big basket that has big time confidence and the swagger that she can score on anyone – it’s Courtney,” Miller said.

Williams’ play at the end helped seal the game for the Sun, but don’t be fooled. Despite a struggle in the second half from Connecticut, the Liberty were dominated in the first half by the Sun.

New York’s offense struggled, and the Sun’s offense prospered. Connecticut shot 50 percent from the three-point line, making 12 threes – New York made 10. Jonquel Jones, the team’s leading scorer this season, scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Jasmine Thomas led the team in scoring for the game, totaling 23 points and five assists.

The New York Liberty simply could not check the Connecticut Sun in the first half, especially from the three-point line. The Sun entered Friday’s game as the WNBA’s best 3-point shooting team — they didn’t regress against the Liberty. Connecticut shot 50% from deep, making 12 triples – two more than New York.

“They were shooting well so we put ourselves in a hole and we were able to get it back and tie the ball game,” Liberty center Tina Charles said

Both teams are solid at rebounding, but that didn’t matter for the Liberty. New York, the best rebounding team in the WNBA, could only muster 12 rebounds in the first half; none of those were offensive rebounds, either. The Sun had 18 in the first half, including four offensive rebounds.

By the end of the game though, the Liberty only lost the rebounding war by one, 30-29.

Basically, the Sun did everything well – and the Liberty struggled to be consistent with its actions. The offense was not flowing, with Bria Hartley leading the way at the half with 10 points. The Liberty struggled to earn solid shots, not attacking a tough Sun defense.

Both teams had key players back from their overseas commitments. Epiphanny Prince chipped in 14 points off the bench, while Kia Vaughn added four to the Liberty’s score. For Connecticut, Alex Bentley brought instant offense off the bench with nine points in her 11 minutes of play.

Multiple NCAA rules adjusted for upcoming season

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

 

Drawing charges perhaps just got easier for the game’s premier defenders.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved moving the restricted area arc Wednesday to four feet in front of the basket, extending the arc a foot from the previous three feet. The rule change will be effective for the 2017-2018 women’s season.

For a player to draw a charge, she must be outside the arc and be in guarding position. This means that a defender cannot move or block her way into an opponent. Nope, for a player to draw a charge, she must be stationary and outside the restricted area to have a chance at drawing a charge. But if a player is within the arc when contact is made, a blocking foul will be called.

Aside from moving the restricted area arc, the panel also approved giving teams a choice as to which side of the court they want to inbound the ball after advancing it to the frontcourt.

The panel also eliminated the first half “use-it-or-lose-it” timeout, which now allows coaches to carry timeouts into the second half. Also, the 10-second backcourt will not be reset when the offense calls timeout.

Other notable rule changes were the implementation of replay for officials, particularly when an official needs to see if a player released the ball before the shot clock expired.

The panel also changed the rules for a three-second violation, saying that a player has to have both feet outside the lane to not be called for the violation.