August 29, 2022
Daily Briefing — Aug. 29, 2022: CROWN JEWELL — Loyd leads Seattle to Game 1 win in Las Vegas
Candace Parker smashes records despite loss to Connecticut
Happy Monday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring Yesterday’s Recap. Day seven of the WNBA post-season came and went with a bang, as both road teams upset the higher seeds on their home floors. A show-stopping performance from Seattle combo guard Jewell Loyd headlined the earlier match-up, as her consistent free-throw shooting and clutch jumpers pulled the Storm ahead of the Aces in the final minutes. It didn’t seem to matter where she was on the floor, whether it was Kelsey Plum or A’ja Wilson contesting her; when it mattered most, Loyd found a way to get the shots to fall.
Then, despite losing the Sun in the final minutes of play, Candace Parker posted an all-time statline, the likes of which the WNBA has never seen. To say Parker held Chicago together last night would be the understatement of the year, as usual Sky cornerstones Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley sank a combined 5-for-18 from the field and had just three assists between them. Parker’s 18 rebounds and 19 points alone would’ve been a headline, as only five others have ever reached that mark in a playoff game. But without missing a beat, Parker added on five assists, four steals and six blocks, pulling off a feat never accomplished in the league’s history. Yet, the loss might be the only thing on Parker’s mind as the Sky look ahead to Game 2 on Wednesday.
In other news, Front Office Sports reported late last week that the NCAA had agreed to host a women’s National Invitational Tournament (NIT) during its August meeting. Previously, the NCAA had only sponsored the men’s NIT, with the women’s side operated by a third party organizer in Triple Crown Sports. This marks a significant step towards the NCAA’s goals, spelled out in the 2021 gender equity report (here, NIT pgs. 10, 97, 100). There may also be additional incentives for the NCAA, as ESPN hopes to take up more coverage of women’s college basketball. The women’s NIT could serve as an additional product to consider in upcoming negotiations.
Finally, earlier this afternoon, the league announced that the Aces’ Jackie Young had been named Most Improved Player (MIP), becoming the first player in Aces franchise history to receive the honor. The league cited Young’s drastic improvements from three-point range, and her overall bump in scoring output. The Next’s Matthew Walter previously detailed Young’s case for MIP, and Em Adler takes you through how The Next staff voted and who our choice was.
Young received 32 votes to finish first, with the Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu (10 votes), the Mercury’s Sophie Cunningham (seven votes) and the Aces’ Kelsey Plum (four votes) following suit. In addition, the Wings’ Teaira McCowan, the Storm’s Gabby Williams and the Liberty’s Han Xu received one vote each.
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- Our Arie Graham ties a bow on the Dallas Wings’ season, including lessons learned from the playoffs, the path forward, and much more.
- For The Player’s Tribune, Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard reflects on her breakout season, the people that lifted her along the way and the road ahead.
- The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith introduces you to Team Canada’s new head coach, Víctor Lapeña through his enthusiasm for his team and the sport.
Sunday, Aug. 28 recap
Seattle beat Las Vegas, 76–73, to take a 1–0 series lead. The Storm took a commanding 15–4 run to open the match, but the Aces clawed their way back within striking distance by the late second. Even so, Seattle managed to build back a multiple-possession lead by halftime. Despite being outscored by the Aces in the second and third quarters, the Storm held on to the lead until the final minutes of action, when Las Vegas snagged the lead off of a clutch three-pointer from off-ball guard Riquna Williams.
The two teams traded baskets as the minutes wound down, until heroics from Jewell Loyd really kicked in for Seattle. Outside of one layup from center Tina Charles, which Loyd assisted on, no other Storm player would score in the final 5 minutes of play. As Plum missed what would’ve been a game-tying three-pointer out of the final Aces timeout, Seattle snuck past Las Vegas for the win. Overall, the Storm grabbed three more offensive rebounds than the Aces, but logged four more fouls. Seattle also kept a tight grip on the pace, scoring 16 fast break points to Las Vegas’ zero. The Aces shot a perfect 11-for-11 from the free-throw line, but had four more turnovers.
Combo guard Jewell Loyd led the Storm with 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting (4–10 3pt.) and four assists. Big wing Breanna Stewart notched 24 points on 9-for-17 from the field (6–6 FT), six rebounds, two assists and three blocks. Charles logged 13 points on 6-for-18 shooting and 18 rebounds (five offensive). Point guard Sue Bird contributed 12 assists on zero turnovers, four rebounds and two points on 1-for-6 from the field.
Point guard Chelsea Gray led the Aces with 21 points on 9-for-15 from the field (3–3 FT), five assists and two steals. Point guard Kelsey Plum contributed 20 points on 8-for-23 shooting (2–10 3pt), four rebounds and two assists on four fouls. Center A’ja Wilson had eight points on 3-for-10 from the field, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Connecticut beat Chicago, 68–63, to take a 1–0 series lead. The Sun opened the game on an 11–4 run, maintaining their lead until the Sky posted a 7–2 run to cut the lead to three. Heading into the second quarter, the lead bounced between the two teams, neither able to take a significant lead. The score sat tied at 34 apiece at halftime, but Connecticut would out-score Chicago by eight in the third to take the advantage. Deep in the fourth, as the score tightened once again, Sky big Emma Meesseman nailed a clutch three-pointer to give Chicago a one-point lead; but, the Sun were quick to respond with a 6–0 run to close out the game and the win, their first over the Sky since Game 2 of last year’s semifinals.
Overall, the Sun out-rebounded the Sky by 11, and grabbed five more offensive rebounds. Chicago laid down seven more blocks, but had seven more fouls. Connecticut had their way in transition, scoring 14 points on fast break to Chicago’s six, despite the Sky limiting them to just nine second-chance points.
The Sun were led by big wing DeWanna Bonner‘s 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting (1–6 3pt., 6–6 FT), nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Big wing Alyssa Thomas notched a double-double with 12 points on 6-for-16 shooting and 10 rebounds (four offensive), along with seven assists. Big Jonquel Jones had 12 points on 5-for-8 from the field (1–1 3pt.), nine rebounds (three offensive) and two steals. Center Brionna Jones contributed 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting, three rebounds and three assists off the bench for the Sun.
For the Sky, Parker led with a double-double of 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting (3–9 3pt.) and 18 rebounds, along with five assists, four steals and six blocks on four fouls. Meesseman notched 10 points on 4-for-11 from the field (2–4 3pt.), three rebounds and seven assists. Wing Kahleah Copper contributed 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting (1–3 3pt., 2–4 FT) and three rebounds on four turnovers.
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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.