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Williams’ Big Half Is Enough

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Natalie Williams, scoreless at halftime and without a single rebound, scored 26 points in the second half and an overtime period Thursday night to lead the Portland Power to a 69-67 victory over the Long Beach StingRays.

Of course, what would you expect from “the best post player in the world” as her coach, Linn Dunn, called her afterward. But first she explained her “Dunn Rule”: “When she gets a second foul in the first half, she sits, no matter how early it comes.”

Williams, before an announced 4,247 at the 10,934-seat Portland Coliseum, scored every overtime point for Portland (17-8), was 12 for 12 from the free throw line and had eight rebounds, and two steals--all in 25 minutes, after sitting under the Dunn Rule.

“You can have Lisa Leslie, you can have Yolanda Griffith or anyone else out there--Natalie Williams is the best post player in the world,” she said.

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Williams came out with 4:44 left in the first quarter and sat her for the duration of the first half.

Does Williams like the rule?

“It’s irrelevant, whether she likes it or not,” Dunn said.

And so the 6-1, 200-pound Williams denied Long Beach (12-10) in its attempt to win three consecutive games, and a chance to take a bite out of Portland’s lead in the ABL’s Western Conference race.

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Said Williams: “We worked so hard to get into overtime, we just had to win it.”

Williams tied the score at 61 with two free throws and 20 seconds left in regulation, the first tie Portland had. Then she gave the Power its first lead, 63-61 in the overtime, with a two-footer.

The game was tied three more times in the overtime, and Williams broke the tie each time. Her two free throws with 26 seconds left produced the final score.

Long Beach Coach Maura McHugh likened it to a freeway smashup.

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“It was like someone slammed on the brakes, just when we were going great guns . . . and we just came apart,” she said.

“When we really needed to execute our offense, when it counted the most, we didn’t execute and they did. For some reason, we suddenly started running around playing one-on-five.”

Venus Lacy had a fourth straight strong offensive game, with 15 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in her longest stint yet, 38 minutes.


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