Saturday, January 17, 2009

WCBA Semifinals 2/2008 - Liaoning 79, Beijing 67

Jennifer Lacy introducing Jia Guang to WNBA-style play.

After losing the first game of the semifinals, Beijing needed a win to have a chance at being the first WCBA champion that wasn't either Bayi Telecom or Liaoning. They traveled to Liaoning for a must-win game, but fell 79-67. It was Beijing's second loss in a best-of-three series, and Beijing is officially eliminated from contention. Liaoning goes to the finals for the fourth straight year.

I managed to get Google Translate to give me a translated box score here. Your mileage may vary. If that link doesn't work, try this one.

So what happened? Beijing was missing leading scorer Zhang Wei because they leased her from Liaoning at the beginning of the season - obviously, she wasn't going to be allowed to play against a team that held her contract. Beijing managed to lead Liaoning 24-22 at the end of the first quarter, but in the second, Beijing was just held to 11 points and Liaoning took a 41-35 lead into the break.

Beijing fought back in the third quarter to cut the lead down to three points, 58-55 at the end of three quarters. Beijing would manage to close the gap to just one point, 62-61, with five minutes left, but Beijing would be outscored 17-6 in those final five minutes.

In terms of shooting, this was a premiere game from both sides. Liaoning shot 50 percent and Beijing shot 41 percent, but both teams shot over 50 percent from inside the 3-point arc. Both teams hit about 25 percent of their three pointers, but Beijing made 26 attempts to Liaoning's 11 (it only resulted in three extra hits for Beijing).

Beijing picked up more offensive rebounds, winning that battle almost by a 2-1 margin. Turnovers were even. What crushed Beijing was sending Liaoning to the line 26 times - and Liaoning hit 22 of their free throws, scoring at an 84 percent margin. Excellent shooting at the free throw lilne has sent Liaoning to the finals once again, where they will meet either Bayi Telecom or Jiangsu. (Bayi Telecom won their game, evening the Bayi Telecom/Jiangsu series at 1-1. The rubber game of the match is tomorrow.)

"Yang half with" - whoever she is - led Liaoning with 20 points. Tangela Smith scored 19 points and had seven rebounds, shooting 7-for-10 from the field. Ma Zengyu would also score 18 points for Liaoning.

As for Beijing, it was hoped that Zhang Fan would be a big force for the visitors, but she suffered an injury and only played seven minutes, scoring only six points. Zhang Lin would score 23 points and eight rebounds to lead all Beijing players. The only other player to score in double digits was "周宏华" with 12 points. Ten players would score points for Beijing, but Jennifer Lacy would only score five points in 32 minutes of play. Lacy also scored six rebounds and had four assists. For some mysterious reason, Lacy did not start.

(* * *)

So Jennifer Lacy's season is over, and she's theoretically free to return to the United States. However, through an act of ballot box stuffing, Lacy got enough votes to be named the starting center for the North All-Star Team of the WCBA. The WCBA plans on playing an All-Star Game on February 15th - if they can find someone who will host it.

Was today's game Jennifer Lacy's last game in China? Or will there be another?

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