The Mercury got smoked in their first road game of the season losing to the Monarch 90 - 71, getting killed of all places at the free throw line. The Monarchs had 21 attempts to the Mercury's zero at end of the first half. That's 17 free points to none. It is not easy to win a game fighting up that kind of a hill but the Mercury did cut the lead to one in the 3rd quarter before turnovers and Monarch offensive rebounds put the game away.
Normal bad calls aside, typically the aggressive team in basketball will get the calls but Coach Gaines didn't think that was the case here. "The refs didn't see any fouls, they didn't call any fouls. We were trying to be aggressive. That's the main thing we were trying to do. Maybe we were too aggressive. I don't know."
Coach Gaines wouldn't blame his team's energy or effort but from what I saw watching online and from the hustle stats the Monarch were the hungrier team looking for their first win. The Monarch were +11 on the boards, +16 points in the paint and +12 in second chance points.
Diana Taurasi rejected the "hungrier team won" argument saying before tonight's game, "I don't know if they were hungrier. They just executed better. We had a lot of thngs that didn't go our way. Foul trouble. We didn't get to the free throw line. Not making open shots. Our inability to get a defensive rebound. Sometimes it's just the luck of the bounce." Diana was in foul trouble for the entire game only playing 9 minutes in the first half with no points and 3 fouls. She finished with 11 points on 5 for 12.
The foul calls certainly didn't go the Mercury's way Friday and one reason might have been that two of the officiating crew (Clarke Stevens and Maj Forseberg) also worked the Mercury's game on Wednesday against the Liberty. In that game we saw Taurasi visibly agitated at some of the non-calls. We can only wonder if there was any hangover on the part of the refs.
As she did after Wednesday's game, Taurasi refused to say anything on the matter calling Clarke the "one of the best officials in the league".
The team's general attitude about the loss Friday seems to be a "shake it off" mindset. Coach Gaines doesn't have any specific adjustments for tonight's rematch and expects his team to continue to be aggressive. A win at home over the Monarch would extend a franchise best home win streak of 7 over the Sacramento team.