August 13, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Aug. 13, 2022: Sylvia Fowles. That’s the headline.

Race to the playoffs hits fever pitch ahead of Sunday's six-game regular-season finale

Happy Saturday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the NCAA Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 84 of the WNBA season was headlined by Sylvia Fowles‘ final regular-season home game before her fast-approaching retirement from professional basketball. To the sold-out crowd at Target Center, it didn’t matter that they were about to witness one of the worst Lynx losses of the season; what mattered was getting to watch Fowles take home court, perhaps for the final time.

Despite the loss, Fowles couldn’t leave Minnesota without breaking some records. After her ninth rebound, she passed Rebekkah Brunson, who is now a Minnesota assistant coach, on the Lynx’s all-time rebounding leaderboard. Fowles also retains the franchise rebounding record for the Chicago Sky.

As she checked out of the game for what could be the final time in Minneapolis, the entire arena paused to cheer as Fowles embraced her teammates and Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve.

I wish I could tell you everything about Fowles’ retirement ceremony, the entirety of which was streamed live on ESPN2 after the game, but in truth I was too emotional to watch it myself. As we’ve talked about frequently in TDB, Fowles is a one-of-a-kind player in WNBA history and a truly special individual. She’ll leave the WNBA as one of its most decorated and well-respected players and its most dominant center to date. Her impact on the game of basketball, the WNBA community, and the many places she’s spent time in will be felt for years to come. The Next‘s Lucas Seehafer was at the celebration of Fowles’ retirement and will have all the the details for you soon, so keep your eyes peeled (though we’ll also alert you here in TDB, just in case).

In the meantime, to get us back in cheerier spirits before we dive into yesterday’s games, let’s look at some hard-hitting reporting on the best boys of Target Center:

But first, read…

  • Our James Kay breaks down how Chicago’s Kahleah Copper is still improving as one of the best players in the WNBA
  • I broke open the collective bargaining agreements and sat down with broadcaster Rebecca Lobo to discuss recent changes to All-WNBA voting
  • Basketball News’ Nekias Duncan sat down with Las Vegas Aces point guard Chelsea Gray to break down everything that makes her arguably the best passer in W history
  • Sports Illustrated’s Ben Pickman dissected the many faces of Sylvia Fowles — superstar, mortician, teacher, cyclist and “Mama Syl”

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W Roundup

Phoenix: Signed combo forward Kaela Davis to a rest-of-season hardship contract.

Atlanta: Partially suspended combo guard Tiffany Hayes’ contract due to overseas commitments. Her Hoop Stats’ Aneela Khan first reported that this commitment appeared to be her participation on the Azerbaijan team competing in the 3×3 tournament in the Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey. Hayes is an Azerbaijani citizen and has previously missed time during the WNBA regular season to compete for the national team.

NCAA Roundup

Departures

  • Jada Boyd, combo forward, NC State. So far, Boyd has not entered the transfer portal.

Watch List, Saturday, Aug. 13

None. But there will be six games on Sunday to close out the season, so prepare for that how you wish.

Friday, Aug. 12 recap

Seattle (22–13) beat Minnesota (14–21), 96–69. Fowles scored the opening bucket in commanding fashion, but Seattle quickly went on a 15–0 run and never looked back. The Storm lead quickly ballooned to 20 and at one point was as high as 32. Seattle was able to get into the paint, scoring 42 points in that area to Minnesota’s 26, and the Lynx struggled to respond. Overall, Seattle shot 16.3 percentage points better from the field and 13.6 percentage points better from three than Minnesota. The Storm also out-rebounded the Lynx by nine and grabbed two more steals, despite logging seven more fouls.

Center Tina Charles led the Storm and all scorers with 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting (2–4 3pt, 3–3 FT), nine rebounds, three assists and three steals against four turnovers. Combo guard Jewell Loyd notched 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field (4–6 3pt). Big wing Breanna Stewart logged a double-double with 16 points on 7-for-16 shooting and 10 rebounds, along with two assists. Off the bench, combo guard Briann January had 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field (3–4 3pt) and five assists on five fouls.

For the Lynx, off-ball guard Aerial Powers led with 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting (1–3 3pt, 7–8 FT), three rebounds and two assists. Fowles logged a double-double with 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the field (3–3 FT) and 12 rebounds, along with two assists and two steals. Off the bench, off-ball guard Bridget Carleton had 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting (2–4 3pt), two rebounds and two assists.

Washington (21–14) beat Indiana (5–30), 82–70. The teams traded baskets through the first quarter, with Washington staying just one possession ahead. By halftime, however, a 10–1 run pushed the Mystics to a significant lead. As Washington expanded its lead to double digits, Indiana wasn’t able to mount a response and the Mystics came away with the win. Overall, the Fever shot twice as well as the Mystics from three, sinking 8-of-19 to Washington’s 4-of-19. Washington out-rebounded Indiana by 13, the majority of which came on the offensive glass.

Big Elena Delle Donne led the Mystics and all scorers with 24 points on 8-for-17 from the field (8–10 FT), seven rebounds and three assists. Combo guard Alysha Clark notched nine points on 4-for-8 shooting (1–5 3pt), eight rebounds and four assists. Off-ball guard Ariel Atkins had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting, three rebounds, two assists and three steals. Center Elizabeth Williams logged 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting, four rebounds and two steals in 18 minutes off the bench.

For the Fever, big Emily Engstler led with a season-high 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting (2–2 3pt, 4–5 FT), five rebounds and three blocks on five fouls. Engstler is just the second player in Fever history and the 29th all-time to score at least 18 points with a perfect field goal percentage, per Across the Timeline. Big Emma Cannon had 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field (2–4 3pt, 4–4 FT), eight rebounds and three steals. Big NaLyssa Smith had 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting (1–3 3pt), six rebounds and three assists.


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New York (15–20) beat Atlanta (14–21), 80–70. The lead passed back and forth until the late second quarter, when New York went on a 14–1 run to go up by double digits. The Liberty expanded that lead through the third quarter as Atlanta went cold from the field. The Dream cut the lead to seven in the late fourth, but it wasn’t enough and the Liberty ran away with the win. Overall, the Liberty shot 10.5 percentage points better from the field than the Dream and secured two more blocks.

Point guard Crystal Dangerfield led the Liberty and all scorers with a season-high 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting (1–3 3pt, 3–5 FT) and a season-high six assists. Wing Betnijah Laney notched a season-high 17 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field (2–5 3pt, 5–5 FT), three rebounds and three assists. Combo guard Sabrina Ionescu contributed 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting (1–2 3pt), eight rebounds and six assists. Big Natasha Howard logged a double-double with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting and 12 rebounds, along with three assists and two steals on four fouls.

For the Dream, combo guard Erica Wheeler led with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting (1–2 3pt), two rebounds and three assists on four fouls. Wing Rhyne Howard notched 14 points on 3-for-14 shooting (3–8 3pt, 5–6 FT), six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Off the bench, point guard Aari McDonald logged 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting from the field (1–5 3pt) and four rebounds on four turnovers.

Phoenix (15–20) beat Dallas (17–18), 86–74. The lead went back and forth through the first quarter, and in the opening minutes of the second, the Wings went on a 7–2 run to grab a multiple-possession advantage. By the early third, however, Phoenix had clawed its way back and taken the lead off of back-to-back baskets from combo guard Diamond DeShields. From there, the Mercury forged ahead, building a double-digit lead by the end of the third and maintaining it to the end. Overall, the Wings out-rebounded the Mercury by six, most of which were offensive rebounds, while Phoenix grabbed four more steals. The Mercury made themselves at home in the paint, logging 46 points in that area to the Wings’ 28, while Dallas made the most of its offensive rebounds, notching 12 more second-chance points than Phoenix.

DeShields led the Mercury and all scorers with 24 points on 10-for-21 shooting (2–4 3pt), five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Point guard Shey Peddy notched 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting (4–8 3pt), five rebounds (four offensive), a season-high eight assists and two steals on four turnovers. Combo forward Jennie Simms had a career-high 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting (1–2 3pt), four rebounds and two assists on five fouls. Big Brianna Turner had eight points on 4-for-4 shooting, six assists and two steals.

For Dallas, big Kayla Thornton led with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting (2–3 3pt) and four rebounds. Off-ball guard Allisha Gray notched 13 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field (3–6 3pt, 2–4 FT), four rebounds, three assists and two blocks on four turnovers. Off-ball guard Marina Mabrey logged 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting (2–5 3pt), six rebounds and six assists against five turnovers.

Written by Isabel Rodrigues

Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York. She also covers women's sports for The Daily Princetonian.

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