by Greg Starks
The Philadelphia Reign swept their season series against the New Jersey Sting, winning the third of three games by a score of 82-71.
Both teams traded baskets early in the first quarter, as the score was only 6-6. Even though the game was tied, it looked as if New Jersey wanted the win more than Philly. The Sting grabbed more rebounds than the Reign, and their motion offense seemed to always allow their shooters to have great open looks at the basket. Philly’s defense wasn’t as good as they had been in previous matchups with the Sting, which allowed New Jersey to jump out to a five-point lead with about six minutes left in the first.
On the offensive end, the Reign struggled mightily. New Jersey denied them open looks and made them work for every point. The Sting appeared to have all the momentum until Brittany Hrynko of the Reign hit a huge three-pointer plus the and one foul shot. This cut New Jersey’s lead to three points.
With about 3:19 left in the first, Philly offense began to come alive as they led 15-13. The Reign’s lead didn’t last long as the Sting were able to get second chance points and this allowed them to get back in the driver’s seat. For the first time this season, the Reign trailed at the end of the first quarter. New Jersey led 21-18.
Philly went on a 4-0 run to open the second quarter, which ultimately moved them back into the lead. New Jersey’s offense came out cold, and the Reign led 27-21. Neither team could find their stroke from three, so both teams looked to score most of their points in the paint.
To try and slow down the Reign’s offense, the Sting began to play full-court defense. New Jersey managed to slow down Philly’s offense, but the Reign’s defense still kept New Jersey on lockdown. At the end of the second quarter, Philly held a seven-point lead with the score at 38-31.
At halftime, Reign head coach Tanae Davis-Cain addressed her team’s slow start to the game.
“I feel like we came out playing slow,” she said. “I feel like we were getting out-hustled, so hopefully that’s not becoming a pattern.
“We adjusted on defense [in the second quarter]. They came out playing stronger defense, and we were able to pull a little bit away before the start of halftime.”
About two minutes into the third quarter, each teams’ agenda became clear. Philly’s goal was to put this game out of reach, and New Jersey wanted to try and keep it close.
The Reign seemed to have better success in completing their goal, as they seized a 12-point lead over the Sting. New Jersey forward Kyra Ryan proved to be her team’s entire offense. She came out of halftime on fire and scored most of the Sting’s points during the third quarter.
Davis-Cain spoke about what her team did to try and slow down Ryan.
“She’s a good player. We just tried to find her early. Before, a couple of our players had bad communication and she got a couple of shots where she was wide open. So we just came into the game knowing that we have to find out where she is, stay locked in on her and play good solid defense.”
At the end of the third, Philly held on to a slight lead of 56-52.
In the fourth quarter, the Sting had opportunities to get back into the game, but Reign center Ayshia Baker came up with several crucial blocks.
With five minutes left in the game, it was evident that Philly had all the momentum with a 69-56 lead. The Sting’s offense struggled to get good looks at the basket once Philly’s defense came alive and forced turnover after turnover.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Reign walked away still undefeated with an 82-71 victory.