It wasn't quite the auspicious start the Washington Metros were dreaming of last night as the San Francisco Pioneers coasted over them, 94-73, in Washington's first Women's Professional Basketball League game before a sparse turnout of 250 at the D.C. Armory.
"I think the team just had too many distractions," said Metro Coach Nat Frazier. "There was all the news about our financial situation and everything which made it tough to keep our minds on our game. We're lot better offensive team than we showed tonight."
The Pioneers wasted little time jumping ahead of the Metros as Cardie Hicks, a sensational forward from Tennessee State, reeled off 13 of her game-high 28 points in the first quarter. Anita Ortega, from UCLA, added eight points in the quarter as the Pioneers took a 27-15 lead. Ortega finished with 24 points.
The Metros, who hinted at being a high-powered offensive club by scoring over 100 points in three exhibition games, could not get untracked last night. They turned the ball over consistently in the early going and got little offense from their backcourt.
Metro Vivian Greene, who went none for eight from the floor in the game, was the fourth-leading scorer in the league last year for the Dayton Rockettes.
"Vivian can play much better than she did tonight," said Frazier. "She's proven it. I'm not at all worried about her."
In the second quarter, the Metros threatened to close the gap as Cathy Shoemaker hit four straight turnaround jumpers to cut the Pioneer lead to six, 36-30. But Ortega and Pat Mayo scored six straight points to stall the rally.
Greene came out shooting in the second half but nothing would fall for the Norfolk State graduate. She sat down midway through the third quarter and didn't return.
After three quarters the Metros trailed, 74-59. Ortega scored 10 points to lead a Pioneer spurt at the start of the final period to increase the visitors' lead to as much as 21 points, and the Metros' fate was sealed.
Frazier looked at the game philosophically, saying, "We just had a bad game . . . on opening night you want to play well so the fans will come back. But we're a much better team than we showed and we'll be back. The next couple of games are on the road . . . I think that will alleviate the distractions."
Effi Barry, wife of Washington Mayor Marion Barry, tossed up the opening tipoff and remarked, "This is very exciting. They play so well. We just have to get more fans out here."