CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer has been
wanting Cheryl Ford to become a bigger offensive force.
Ford had a career-high 24 points and 14 rebounds to lead the
Shock to their third straight win, 86-74 over the Charlotte Sting
"The last two years we've known her potential, but she never
really embraced it," Laimbeer said. "She went through the
motions. But this year's she's been driven to be a great player.
She has all the talent in the world. If she executes, she's
Katie Smith added 16 points and Deanna Nolan had 14, including a
3-pointer that capped an 8-0 run that put the Shock ahead 70-60
with 7:08 left. After the Sting came within four, Detroit pulled
away with Ford's putback and Smith's 3-pointer that helped extend
the lead to 11 with two minutes left.
Detroit (7-4) shot 49 percent and held a 39-24 rebounding edge.
Ford, the league's top rebounder, posted her seventh double-double.
She has 57 points and 44 rebounds in the past three games.
"The hard work is paying off," Ford said. "I'm getting the
ball more and being more patient on my shots."
Tammy Sutton-Brown and Tangela Smith each scored 18 points and
Kelly Mazzante added a career-high 17 for the Sting (2-9), who lost
their fifth straight.
Two days after Sting coach Muggsy Bogues said his team had "no
heart" following a 24-point home loss to Connecticut, Charlotte
got off to another poor start. Rookie LaToya Bond, starting again
in place of injured point guard Helen Darling, committed
back-to-back turnovers that led to two layups and Detroit took an
early 18-6 lead.
The Shock built a 23-8 advantage before the Sting closed the
quarter on an 8-0 run.
"We put forth the effort today," Bogues said. "We really came
out and played hard all the way through. If we continue playing
like that, we'll win over share of games."
Detroit built double-digit leads in the second and third
quarters, but the Sting rallied each time, getting within 60-58 on
Mazzante's two free throws with 8:46 left in the fourth.
"Every game they look for me to come off the bench with energy,
get some open shots and continue to create my offense off my
defense," said Mazzante, whose previous career-high was 15 points
The morning game was played before a crowd of 6,710, and most
were children from area summer camps. The youngsters watched Ford
conduct a clinic inside.
"She's playing so big right now," Laimbeer said. "She's
arguably the best player in the league at this point in time."