For fully four minutes and 13 seconds, n’ary a whistle was blown—and the game was going on.
Three substitutes sat at the scorer’s table for what seemed forever.
One coach finally burnt a time-out at the 4:32 mark in a 14-14 game. A misplay—merely a shot finding its way out of bounds, actually—finally prompted the official under 8:00 stoppage.
Delaware had surged to a four-point lead by then, the heralded Elena Delle Donne accounting for six points and four rebounds.
Drexel’s crafty junior Kamile Nacickaite was able to match the Fightin’ Lady Blue Hens’ Player of the Year candidate hoop for hoop in the first half of this CAA Tournament Final on Sunday.
As the second half commenced, the Delaware kids seemed to realize they are a top-10 team for a reason and quickly assumed control of things.
Delle Donne looked less like somebody’s uncomfortable older sibling and more like the skilled, fluid player her statistics and rave reviews would suggest.
She flaunted a feathery shooting touch, a grittier aggressiveness in her board work, some fancy press-breaking ball-handling and an apparently uncharacteristic display of “holler guy” leadership.
The only suspense that remained in a game that got increasingly chippy came when Elena picked up her third personal foul with nearly eight minutes left and UD sporting a 16-point cushion.
No further whistles went against EDD, who compiled 27 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, but one turnover and probably a No. 2 seed in the NCAA’s.
Another Title Game
About four minutes into the SWAC Women’s Championship game, Prairie View A&M coach Toyelle Wilson made the first substitution of the game.
Feeling that a three-point field goal attempt by Alcorn State’s Kiara Ruffin had not been sufficiently challenged by her defense, No. 2 in your program (No. 1 in Abacus’s heart) reported to the scorer’s table.
No. 2 ambled into the ninth-grade English class of Abacus for the first of many times five-and-a-half years ago, athlete written all over her. Incoming freshmen to this college-prep magnet program complete a survey whose questions include “What do you expect to be doing in ten years?”
No. 2’s response? “Playing in the WNBA, or a professional boxer.”
She meant it, too—a straight-forward kid who wears her emotions on her sleeve.
She was so much like her English teacher’s step-daughter.
A time-out ensued before LaReahn Washington officially hit (no pun intended, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk) the floor.
In no time, the 5’8” sophomore had penetrated the lane and induced a shooting foul.
She made one of two.
Almost five years ago, in an otherwise empty schoolhouse hallway, Abacus was walking a bit arrears of the head and assistant girls’ hoop coaches. “A good coach could teach a kid to get some rotation on her shot by now.”
The head coach, a woman’s pro hoopster from the ‘70’s and one of coaching icon Jody Conradt’s earliest stars, kept her Barbara Jordan-esque voice to herself except for a small chuckle.
The long-time assistant did the up-and-down move with the eyes, then said, “She takes your class, right?”
As old-schoolers like these three would put it, No. 2 was a handful. A lovable handful, but a handful nonetheless.
About four minutes later, the Lady Panthers’ starting point guard, freshman Jeanette Jackson, reentered, but LaReahn remained in the line-up, now playing as a wing.
Coach Toyelle’s troops simultaneously extended their defensive pressure.
LaReahn contributed a break-out lay-up and a neat over the shoulder assist to sustain a team that was struggling to score.
Soon enough this jack-of-all-trades was serving as a back-to-the-basket high post for another assist.
Those were PV’s only six points between TV time-outs, yet the teams remained even at 14.
In half-court defensive sets, our girl was often assigned to chase Lady Braves’ sniper Carolinsia Crumbly.
Curiously, Alcorn’s 37-29 field goal shooting advantage—which stood out amidst an otherwise pretty even stat line—nearly matched the 32-25 half-time score.
Washington and Jackson began the second half together but in no time were facing an 11-point deficit.
A strong drive to the goal on which LaReahn got robbed of an and-1 (her pained facial expression was oh so familiar) seemed to energize the Lady Panthers, yet they continued to play from behind.
Just under 10:00, LaReahn literally tore an offensive rebound from the hands of Lady Brave Isis Smith while crashing to the floor.
Fittingly, an aggressive LaReahn Washington fast-break pass to Latia Williams finally gave Prairie View the lead right out of the under 8:00 time-out.
Williams, a crafty left-handed junior called Mama and undoubtedly the leader of this team, took care of things from there.
And a pretty smile with which Abacus is also quite familiar graced his Sunday Houston Chronicle.
The stats to accompany that particular smile? Four points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and four turnovers in 33 minutes.
Not Delle Donne-ish, but most definitely deserving of a championship bow.
Maybe if PV gets a No. 15 seed…
And if UD gets a No. 2 seed…
Nah, couldn’t happen!
More likely, they’ll catch the Griner Express again this year—bring on that Odyssey Sims.