One of the WNBA’s most dominant players is Liz Cambage of the Las Vegas Aces. She’s unforgiving, wears her heart on her chest, and is truly one of a kind.
When the center is playing her finest basketball no one in the league can stop her. Sunday's Game 3 of the WNBA Semifinals against the Washington Mystics had Cambage playing at her finest.
Matching her season-high, Cambage waltzed to 28 points in only 27 minutes of playing time. Several Mystics took their turn at trying to slow her down. Every Mystic had a chance to help at least at double-teaming the Ace's leading scorer. Primarily it was Emma Meesseman and LaToya Sanders that drew the assignment responsibility, but everyone had a role.
It did not matter in Las Vegas. Throughout the whole contest, Cambage rolled over the interior of the Mystics defense. She scored at ease as the tallest player on either roster for the Mystics and the Aces.
The Australian knew she could not be stopped. Postgame she analyzed why she was able to command the post so well on ESPN2’s broadcast. In the process, she put several Mystics on blast.
“They got small forwards guarding me. If they can’t handle it, get in the weight room or get out of the post. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing my thing inside,” Cambage told Kim Adams.
She’s talking about the 6-4 Meesseman, the 6-3 Sanders. But it doesn't matter whomever the Mystics put on the 6-8 Cambage, there will be a significant matchup advantage for the Aces.
Not only does she have a clear edge in her height, but she does her build as well. Cambage possesses the ideal structure of a WNBA center. She stands at 216 pounds, 30 pounds more than either of the Mystics primary defenders on her. Sanders’ lanky frame has its advantages in the Mystics run-and-gun offense, but not what you see from a stereotypical center. Meesseman is a better matchup defensively, size-wise but she spots Cambage five inches.
This is not an oddity though for Washington. There are a minute few in the WNBA that can walk alongside Cambage. As the third-tallest player in the league, only the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittany Griner (6-9) and the New York Liberty’s Han Xu (6-9) position higher.
Despite the clear physical dominance, Cambage is erratic at times. While she wears her emotions, those also tend to get her in trouble with her aggressive play and in dealing with officials. When frustrated, sometimes she struggles to even get a shot on rim.
This is partly why Cambage’s play was highlighted so much in Game 3. The first two games of the series had Cambage as her own worst enemy. Visibly she was upset with some calls and non-calls by the officials. Timely fouls also limited her flow on the court.
Neither was the case in Game 3. Fouls went her way. She even got away with a brash elbow to Meesseman’s face why trying to keep the lane clear. The non-call resulted in Mike Thibault losing his cool and getting a technical foul.
It’s also not the first time that Cambage has flailed an elbow to Meesseman. Game 2 saw her earn a technical foul for that same behavior.
Either way, Cambage is a matchup nightmare against the Mystics. During the regular season, the Mystics – led by Sanders’ defense – kept Cambage to under 15 points in all three of their matchups. In three games in this series, the 28-year-old has 19, 23 and 28 points; progressively getting better in each game.
Washington still holds a 2-1 lead and is a game away from returning to the WNBA Finals. However, they have to find an answer to slow down the tenacious Cambage.
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