Marynell Meadors, left, was fired by the Atlanta Dream on Monday, while leading scorer Angel McCoughtry was also suspended in a series of bizarre moves for the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs.
ATLANTA — Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg finally got the road win his team desperately needed.
It was a mixed blessing of sorts for the Shock, who learned earlier Tuesday that center Elizabeth Cambage will not return this season.
“That was our first road win, so we’re really excited about that,” Kloppenburg said. “I thought we executed down the stretch to win. We’ve had trouble finishing games.”
Roneeka Hodges scored 20 points, Temeka Johnson had 17 and the Shock beat the short-handed Atlanta Dream 84-80 on Tuesday night to snap a 13-game road losing streak.
The Dream played without guard Angel McCoughtry, who was suspended indefinitely before the game by new coach and general manager Fred Williams for breaking an unspecified team rule. McCoughtry is the WNBA’s leading scorer and helped the U.S. women win the gold medal at the London Olympics.
Williams plans to meet with McCoughtry on Wednesday.
“I have to thoroughly and strongly talk to her,” Williams said. “We’ll see where that lies tomorrow when I talk with her. I think it’s been a culmination of some things that added on to the suspension that I read into it.”
Williams indicated that McCoughtry’s future with the Dream is not certain.
“I wanted to come into this game for our team with a clear mind, and I wanted her not to have the pressure of everything, of her thinking about a few things that are going on,” he said. “Now if she’s still with us, she still has the Atlanta Dream tag on her back right now, and we’ll see where that goes.”
Erika de Souza scored 16 points and Sancho Lyttle had 14 for Atlanta (12-13), which has lost two straight and three of five.
Tulsa, which dropped its last three road games of 2011, improved to 1-10 this season away from home. The Shock (5-19) announced they will be without Cambage for the rest of the season after the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s WNBA draft decided not to play.
Tulsa closed the first half with a 14-4 run to trim Atlanta’s lead to 51-44. The Shock grabbed the lead for good when Glory Johnson converted a fast-break layup to make it 63-62 with 1:28 left in the third.
“We showed a lot of poise tonight,” Temeka Johnson said.
Cathrine Kraayeveld hit a 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds remaining to help Atlanta close to 81-80, but Temeka Johnson hit a free throw and Lyttle’s inbounds pass was stolen by Glory Johnson.
Ivory Latta scored 14 points and Glory Johnson finished with 10 for Shock.
Armintie Price had 13 points for the Dream. Kraayeveld finished with 11.
“I told the young ladies that we’ve got to finish out the game and play a good, solid four quarters of basketball,” Williams said. “Some of the focus was distracted a little bit tonight, but they still played through it and made some things happen for us.”
Cambage, who won a bronze medal with Australia, had been expected to return to Tulsa on Monday but did not board her flight. The team had been promoting her expected return in Thursday night’s home game against Los Angeles after she dunked in an Olympic game.
“She is physically fatigued, and we’ve been in touch for a while with Tulsa to let them know that,” said Allison Tranquilli, Cambage’s Australia-based agent. “She is taking a well-earned rest.”
Kloppenburg has yet to speak with Cambage.
“Not since this all went down,” he said. “I think it’s a situation where she was probably coming back off the Olympics, got back home and some fatigue set in. Maybe she was just kind of overwhelmed about coming back for just a few games. I think that was it more than anything.
“I think she definitely wants to be in our league and in Tulsa. But I think with our situation this year and her youth, you see with most of veteran players that they play in the Olympics and they’re back. I think she’s still learning how to come back.”
Kloppenburg and team president Steve Swetoha said they think Cambage will return next year, but Tranquilli did not want to speculate about next season.
“We just made a decision based on her situation right now,” she said. “We’ll let her recover first.”
Dream suspend Angel McCoughtry indefinitely
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Dream suspended WNBA scoring leader Angel McCoughtry indefinitely on Tuesday for violating team rules.
Dream spokeswoman Tonya Allene said that new coach and general manager Fred Williams told McCoughtry before a game against Tulsa that she was suspended.
It was unclear if McCoughtry’s feuding with former coach-GM Marynell Meadors, who was fired on Monday, played a role in Williams’ decision.
McCoughtry, who averages 22.2 points, was openly critical of Meadors’ game plan following a loss to Minnesota on Sunday. McCoughtry and Meadors both added that the fourth-year guard’s tired legs contributed to her not starting and playing only 20 minutes.
Allene said McCoughtry was not at Philips Arena when players reported and was not in the building for Tuesday’s game.
McCoughtry and Meadors led Atlanta to the WNBA finals in each of the last two years, but the Dream were swept both times. The player and coach worked together earlier this month in London, helping the U.S. women’s team win a gold medal.
McCoughtry missed two games last week because of personal reasons. She did not start June 15 against Los Angeles for violating an unspecified team rule.
McCoughtry, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2009, is also the WNBA’s leader in steals, averaging 2.9 per game.
Williams worked Tuesday for the first time as a head coach since going 36-37 from 1999-2001 with the Utah Starzz. He had been on Meadors’ staff since 2009.
Atlanta Dream names Fred Williams new coach, GM
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Dream have hired Fred Williams as its new head coach and general manager, replacing Marynell Meadors.
The Dream announced Monday that Williams will immediately replace Meadors, who helped lead the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team to a gold medal as an assistant coach on the national staff earlier this month.
Meadors was named WNBA coach of the year in 2009 after she lead the Dream to the second-biggest one year turnaround in league history. The Dream followed up their four-win 2008 inaugural campaign with 18 victories and a playoff berth.
Meadors also led the Dream to consecutive WNBA Finals appearances in 2010 and 2011.
This season, the Dream are currently third in the Eastern Conference with a 12-12 record.
“As a team, we are unified in our drive to build on what we’ve achieved in our first five years,” Williams said in a release from the team. “We want to acknowledge the strong contribution that Marynell Meadors made to this organization. Our franchise will continue to build on the tradition of speed, scoring and tough defense that has resulted in back-to-back Eastern Conference championships.”
Williams has been with the Dream since 2008 after he spent 10 years coaching at the University of Southern California and served as an advance scout for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz.
“Coach Williams bring a wealth of experience, a strong sense of teamwork, and demonstrated commitment to the role of head coach and general manager,” Dream co-owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler said in the release. “We have tremendous respect for her contribution to this sport and wish Coach Meadors the very best in her future endeavors.”
First-year assistant Joe Ciampi will continue in his role under Williams.