Tulsa ends road skid with win over Dream
ATLANTA (AP) — Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg finally got the road win his team desperately needed.
It was a mixed blessing of sorts for the Shock, who learned earlier Tuesday that center Elizabeth Cambage will not return this season.
“That was our first road win, so we’re really excited about that,” Kloppenburg said. “I thought we executed down the stretch to win. We’ve had trouble finishing games.”
Roneeka Hodges scored 20 points, Temeka Johnson had 17 and the Shock beat the short-handed Atlanta Dream 84-80 on Tuesday night to snap a 13-game road losing streak.
The Dream played without guard Angel McCoughtry, who was suspended indefinitely before the game by new coach and general manager Fred Williams for breaking an unspecified team rule. McCoughtry is the WNBA’s leading scorer and helped the U.S. women win the gold medal at the London Olympics.
Williams plans to meet with McCoughtry on Wednesday.
“I have to thoroughly and strongly talk to her,” Williams said. “We’ll see where that lies tomorrow when I talk with her. I think it’s been a culmination of some things that added on to the suspension that I read into it.”
Williams indicated that McCoughtry’s future with the Dream is not certain.
“I wanted to come into this game for our team with a clear mind, and I wanted her not to have the pressure of everything, of her thinking about a few things that are going on,” he said. “Now if she’s still with us, she still has the Atlanta Dream tag on her back right now, and we’ll see where that goes.”
Erika de Souza scored 16 points and Sancho Lyttle had 14 for Atlanta (12-13), which has lost two straight and three of five.
Tulsa, which dropped its last three road games of 2011, improved to 1-10 this season away from home. The Shock (5-19) announced they will be without Cambage for the rest of the season after the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s WNBA draft decided not to play.
Tulsa closed the first half with a 14-4 run to trim Atlanta’s lead to 51-44. The Shock grabbed the lead for good when Glory Johnson converted a fast-break layup to make it 63-62 with 1:28 left in the third.
“We showed a lot of poise tonight,” Temeka Johnson said.
Cathrine Kraayeveld hit a 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds remaining to help Atlanta close to 81-80, but Temeka Johnson hit a free throw and Lyttle’s inbounds pass was stolen by Glory Johnson.
Ivory Latta scored 14 points and Glory Johnson finished with 10 for Shock.
Armintie Price had 13 points for the Dream. Kraayeveld finished with 11.
“I told the young ladies that we’ve got to finish out the game and play a good, solid four quarters of basketball,” Williams said. “Some of the focus was distracted a little bit tonight, but they still played through it and made some things happen for us.”
Cambage, who won a bronze medal with Australia, had been expected to return to Tulsa on Monday but did not board her flight. The team had been promoting her expected return in Thursday night’s home game against Los Angeles after she dunked in an Olympic game.
“She is physically fatigued, and we’ve been in touch for a while with Tulsa to let them know that,” said Allison Tranquilli, Cambage’s Australia-based agent. “She is taking a well-earned rest.”
Kloppenburg has yet to speak with Cambage.
“Not since this all went down,” he said. “I think it’s a situation where she was probably coming back off the Olympics, got back home and some fatigue set in. Maybe she was just kind of overwhelmed about coming back for just a few games. I think that was it more than anything.
“I think she definitely wants to be in our league and in Tulsa. But I think with our situation this year and her youth, you see with most of veteran players that they play in the Olympics and they’re back. I think she’s still learning how to come back.”
Kloppenburg and team president Steve Swetoha said they think Cambage will return next year, but Tranquilli did not want to speculate about next season.
“We just made a decision based on her situation right now,” she said. “We’ll let her recover first.”