7:30 PM ET, August 24, 2006
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Bill Laimbeer is fond of referring to Cheryl Ford as a "beast."Even Laimbeer was surprised at the performance of his All-Star power forward on Thursday.Ford pulled down a postseason-record 23 rebounds and scored 11 points as the Detroit Shock beat the Connecticut Sun 70-59 in Game 1 of the WNBA Eastern Conference finals."That's just a Herculean effort," Laimbeer said. "She's been very driven and focused all year, and it has been a joy to watch."Ford, who broke the WNBA's single-season rebounding record this year, went past Lisa Leslie's postseason rebounding mark of 18 late in the third quarter, then broke her own overall franchise record of 22 in the fourth. The league record for rebounds in a game is 24 by Chamique Holdsclaw."It just seemed like the ball was falling right into my hands," she said.Ford struggled in the opening moments of the game, as 7-foot-2 Margo Dydek grabbed four rebounds in the first 56 seconds, but the much-smaller Ford outrebounded her 23-4 in the final 39 minutes."Bill just told us to box her out earlier," said Ford, the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone. "I was just trying to get to everything I could."Connecticut, which was outscored 22-10 in the fourth quarter, needs to win Saturday and Sunday at home to advance to their third straight WNBA Finals. The Sun missed 51 of 73 field-goal attempts."Obviously, we have our work cut out for us," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. "I thought our defense was fairly good and our rebounding was actually good for long stretches. We just couldn't make a shot. Our frontcourt shot 25 percent -- if they just hit their layups, we win this game by 10 points."Detroit is trying to get back to the championship round for the first time since winning the 2003 title."Tonight, we simply did what we were supposed to do," Laimbeer said. "Now we have to go win one in hostile territory."Deanna Nolan led all scorers with 21 points, while Katie Smith added 17 and Plenette Pierson had 11 off the bench. Nolan and Ford are averaging a combined 32.3 points in the playoffs.
Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Detroit's Deanna Nolan led all scorers with 21 points.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||22-73 (.000)||26-70 (.000)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-16 (.313)||6-11 (.545)|
|FT Made-Attempted||10-12 (.000)||12-15 (.000)|
|Fast Break Points||3||17|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||16 (0/0)|