August 22, 2022
Daily Briefing — Aug. 22, 2022: Mystified Mystics miss the mark — Seattle Storm eliminate Washington
Wings force Game 3 against the Sun, James Wade wins Executive of the Year
Happy Monday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup and Yesterday’s Recap. Day four of the WNBA postseason came and went, as the Seattle Storm knocked the Washington Mystics out of the playoffs, sweeping the series 2–0. Key performances from Storm point guard Sue Bird and combo guard Jewell Loyd, as well as a near triple-double from big wing Breanna Stewart propelled them past the Mystics.
Meanwhile, in Connecticut, the Wings schooled the Sun on their home floor to force a Game 3 back in Dallas. The Wings made a number of key adjustments to their strategy in the win, including matching up Teaira McCowan’s minutes with those of Sun center Brionna Jones and limiting rebounds and turnovers to slow the pace and force Connecticut to play in the halfcourt.
In other news, Chicago Sky head coach James Wade was named the 2022 Executive of the Year earlier this morning, marking the first time a Chicago executive has won the award since its inception in 2017. Wade is also the first Black executive to win the award, per Andscape’s Sean Hurd.
Executive of the Year is voted on by a panel of 12 WNBA executives, who each pick a first, second and third place finisher. While the league did not disclose the full voting results, the release stated that Wade was named on 11 ballots to win the award, while the Atlanta Dream’s Dan Padover and the Washington Mystics’ Mike Thibault were named as overall second and third place finishers with seven and six ballot listings, respectively. (Editor’s note: If you do the math, that’s 24 of 36 ballot spots. Who was chosen for the other 12 ballot spots? The world may never know.) The Next’s James Kay has more on Wade and the Sky as they head into a do-or-die match against the Liberty on Tuesday.
But first, read:
- Our Gabriella Lewis chronicles the final moments of the 2022 Atlanta Dream season, from lessons learned to opportunities for growth in the off-season.
- Yahoo! Sports’ Cassandra Negley investigated how Force 10 3×3 presents an avenue to grow women’s professional — specifically WNBA-affiliated — basketball.
- For WNBA.com, Mark Schindler spoke with Gabby Williams about her journey to the WNBA and takes a deep dive into her breakout season with the Storm.
- The Hartford Courant’s Lila Bromberg explores Brionna Jones’ basketball foundations and how her time in Maryland prepared her for the key role she plays in Connecticut.
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Seattle: Wing Gabby Williams suffered a concussion in the third quarter of Game 2 against the Mystics and did not return to the court. No timeline or further details have been given about her status, though there will be a full off week for the Storm before they face the Aces on Aug. 28.
Sunday, Aug. 21 recap
#6 Dallas beat #3 Connecticut, 89–79, to tie the series 1–1. The Wings took a 13–3 run to open the match, and held the Sun to just seven points by the end of the first quarter. By halftime, Dallas had built a 16-point lead, taking advantage of less than desirable performances from Connecticut’s guards while making quick work of the Sun defense. The Wings continued to expand their lead, which would balloon to as large as 31 points. Despite a 24–4 run from the Connecticut bench in the mid-fourth, it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit and Dallas came away with the win.
Overall, the Wings shot 13.7 percentage points better from three than the Sun and grabbed seven more steals. Connecticut took advantage of Dallas’ 20 fouls, going 19-for-21 from the foul line as a team. More impressively, the Wings kept the Sun to just four fast break points and went basket-for-basket with the Sun in the paint.
Dallas was led by big Kayla Thornton’s 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting (4–6 3pt.), five rebounds and four assists on four fouls. Center Teaira McCowan notched a double-double on 17 points on 8-for-13 from the field (1–3 FT) and 11 rebounds (eight offensive), along with three assists on four fouls. Off-ball guard Allisha Gray logged 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting (1–7 3pt., 4–4 FT), five rebounds (two offensive), eight assists and three steals. Point guard Veronica Burton contributed seven points on 2-for-5 shooting (2–4 3pt.), three assists and four steals.
Big Jonquel Jones led Connecticut with 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting (1–2 3pt., 7–7 FT), nine rebounds (four offensive) and two blocks. Center Brionna Jones notched 20 points on 7-for-13 from the field (6–7 FT) and four rebounds (three offensive) on four fouls. Big wing Alyssa Thomas had six points on 3-for-8 shooting, six rebounds and five assists. Off-ball guard DiJonai Carrington contributed 13 points on 5-for-9 from the field (1–1 3pt., 2–3 FT) and six rebounds in her 16 minutes off the bench.
#4 Seattle beat #5 Washington, 97–84, to sweep the series 2–0. The teams traded baskets until the Storm took a 10–2 run to go up by double-digits. The Mystics were quick to recover, clawing their way back to within one possession and going basket-for-basket with Seattle through halftime. By the mid-third quarter, however, Washington went cold from the field and Seattle was quick to take advantage, going up by 10 by the end of the third. The deficit, which grew to as much as 17, was too much for the Mystics to overcome as the Storm closed out the series. Overall, the Storm shot 11 percentage points better from the field than the Mystics and won the rebounding battle by eight. Seattle had their way in the post, grabbing 40 paint points to Washington’s 26.
Seattle was led by big wing Breanna Stewart’s double-double on 21 points on 6-for-15 shooting (2–3 3pt., 7–7 FT) and 10 rebounds. Stewart also logged eight assists, two steals and a block. Point guard Sue Bird also notched a double-double with 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting (4–6 3pt.) and 10 assists, along with four rebounds and two steals. Combo guard Jewell Loyd had 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting (5–10 3pt) and four rebounds. Center Ezi Magbegor notched six points on 3-for-5 from the field, five rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench for the Storm.
Point guard Natasha Cloud led the Mystics with 21 points on 7-for-16 shooting (5–8 3pt.), six rebounds and five assists. Off-ball guard Ariel Atkins logged 15 points on 6-for-14 from the field (3–6 FT), two offensive rebounds and seven assists on four fouls. Combo guard Alysha Clark had 10 points on 3-for-5 shooting (2–3 3pt., 2–3 FT), four rebounds and four assists. Off the bench for Washington, point guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough contributed 12 points on 4-for-6 from the field (2–3 3pt.) and three steals.
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Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally. She also covers women's sports for The Daily Princetonian, the independent student newspaper of Princeton University.