Troubled Day for StingRays
Their plane had mechanical difficulties, putting a damper on the whole day.
Then the Colorado Xplosion took care of the night.
The StingRays, stuck in Las Vegas for several hours Friday en route to their game in Denver, came apart quickly in the second half, blowing a 16-point halftime lead and losing, 70-69.
The team left Los Angeles on Friday morning at 8:30 and an hour out turned back to land in Las Vegas with what the pilot called “engine trouble.”
The StingRays remained on the ground in the plane for an hour, then waited two more hours while they were split into two groups to resume their journey on two flights.
There was no midafternoon shoot-around, no afternoon nap, not even a hotel pit stop. It was straight to McNichols Arena from the airport, through rush hour traffic. The second group arrived at 6:40 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game that was set back to 7:10.
“I changed clothes on the bus. I didn’t even know what I’d put on until I got here [to the arena],” Coach Maura McHugh said.
From the outset, Long Beach (20-15) hammered a Colorado (17-20) zone defense, with Yolanda Griffith scoring 13 points and Beverly Williams 11. The StingRays held a 45-29 halftime lead.
“We knew that wouldn’t be enough. We knew we’d have to play a half like that again, and we didn’t,” point guard Andrea Nagy said.
The victory was huge for Xplosion Coach Sheryl Estes, rumored to be on her way out after a second disappointing season.
“This feels great after such a big comeback,” she said. “We’d lost four in a row and to come back this strong . . . it’s such a relief.”
Before an announced 3,806, Long Beach tumbled further into second place after Portland (23-15) beat Seattle.
McHugh’s team was caught up in a roughhouse game in the second half, registering an anemic third quarter, when it was outscored, 21-8.
After halftime, virtually nothing was similar to Tuesday’s game in Long Beach, when Venus Lacy had 27 points and 13 rebounds in a 78-69 win. This time, Lacy experienced shortness of breath early in the first half, and in the third quarter, she came out for oxygen. Lacy finished with four points and two rebounds.
Colorado’s long climb back ended when Debbie Black made an eight-foot jump shot for a 56-55 lead with 7:45 to play. Long Beach got the lead back briefly, but Edna Campbell retrieved it for good for Colorado, 68-66, with a three-point basket with 1:33 to play.
The StingRays became a 10-player team Friday, with the announcement that reserve forward Necole Tunsil will undergo thumb surgery today. Tunsil tore thumb ligaments in training camp and has played in only eight of the team’s 34 games. ABL teams have 11-player rosters but can’t add a practice player until they lose two players. . . . The Xplosion, eighth in ABL attendance at 3,177 per game, has sold 10,000 tickets for Sunday’s game against New England. The Colorado state record for a women’s sports event is 11,199 for a 1989 University of Colorado-Nevada Las Vegas game.