Raise your hand, please, if you expected, at any point in May, any of these events:
1. The Liberty would make the postseason this year.
2. The Lib would beat the Shock twice in reg-season play, then take last year's champs to three games in the playoff series.
3. Of the seven-game season series,
three would go to overtime.
4. The last and most important of the seven-- the elimination game-- would not only go to overtime, but get decided by one point.
5. The Shock would score
just 23 before halftime, miss almost every jump shot until the fourth quarter, get no points from Pierson-- and still win.
Now it's all true. In a game that often hurt to watch-- and must have hurt more to play-- the Shock ground out
an extraordinarily physical, low-scoring win on a Swin Cash layup.
McCarville missed the free throw that would have led to the second overtime-- but sank the field goal that led to the first one. Fans will be talking
bout it for quite a while.
"We couldn't keep them off the boards at the end," explained Patty Coyle, correctly. "We had to go zone to stop Nolan, and when you go zone, you give up rebounds."
Both teams also gave up lots of bruises. Games involving Detroit seem uncommonly hard to officiate-- and this one got physical, and personal, even for them. McCarville and Ford, in particular, went at it
all night-- Ford's no-call elbow jab to McCarville's midsection (which kept Janel on the bench for much of the third quarter) might have been the decisive play of the game.Then again,
Pierson's questionable last-second foul, which sent McCarville to the free-throw line, might have seemed decisive had McCarville made both freebies... Barb Farris missed a clear layup that (had everything else gone exactly the same) would have given NY a two-point win... Coach Coyle, whose team (except for Moore and McCarville) probably has less stamina than the Shock's athletes, used an eight-player rotation, while Detroit used ten... Katie Smith, abysmal for 35 minutes, kept her focus and found her stroke at the end... Tiff Jackson had as many rebounds as Ford, in half as many minutes, but sat (she had back spasms) during OT... and that's why most historians hate
monocasual explanations. Fans should reject them too.
The Lib's season is over-- and it was a good one: as long as they don't forget how to play their defense, they should have more success next year.
As for the defending champs, they've needed two end-of-game plays to scrape past
a team most observers believed would get crushed. And the Fever-- unlike the Lib-- can rebound; they've also got playoff experience, which the Lib lacked. If the Shock play like this against Indiana, and
the refs call the series in any way but very loose, the Fever will be favored heavily. (And that's probably exactly what Bill wants to hear.)