By ANGELLA GLENN
In front of over 5,000 fans, the Utah Starzz lost to the Phoenix Mercury 80-66 Monday afternoon at the Delta Center, extending their losing streak to two games and ending Phoenix’s string of six losses.
The Starzz failed to lead the entire 40 minutes, making only 25 of their 70 field goal attempts. Both teams struggled with turnovers and personal fouls, but the Starzz had difficulties finishing plays and putting points on the board.
Head coach Fred Williams said the missed shots allowed Phoenix to maintain the lead throughout the game.
“If you look at the stats you would think it was a one- or two-point game, or you would think the Starzz had won,” he said. “We had 70 shots and I think a lot of those were really easy chip shots inside that didn’t go down for us. Those shots were early, early in the game, and that really set the tone for Phoenix.”
The Mercury had a 12-point scoring run with eight minutes to go in the first half, holding Utah at 11 until Margo Dydek sunk a 14-foot jumper. Utah struggled to halftime, putting only eight more points on the board, and finished the half trailing Phoenix 38-19.
The Starzz had seven more turnovers before the game was over and committed 14 fouls against Phoenix in the second half. Phoenix took advantage and scored on 16 of their 17 shots from the free-throw line.
Coach Williams said the turnovers were a concern but said the Starzz picked up on defense towards the end of the game.
“Our turnovers — we talked about it at half time — we can’t come out and play just a 20-minute ball game. We’ve got to come out and play a good 40 minutes,” he said. “Phoenix went to the line more than us, but at the end we were trying to be more aggressive. We need to go to the free-throw line a bit more.”
Natalie Williams and Margo Dydek both led the Starzz with 22 points and 9 rebounds each. Adrienne Goodson was a force under the basket, scoring 10 points. LaTonya Johnson played 21 minutes but netted only two points for the Starzz, and Wendy Palmer was held scoreless in her 14 minutes.
Williams attributed the Starzz’ lack of scoring to the tough Phoenix defense.
“They were clamping on the inside — it was very hard for me to get the ball inside in the first half,” Williams said. “We weren’t cutting to the basket and breaking open to the inside by shooting from the outside.”
Williams, who was named the WNBA Player of the Week for games played July 5-11, left for New York after the game where she will represent the Starzz in the inaugural WNBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. The All-Star game will be broadcast live on ESPN Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.