July 23, 2022 

Daily Briefing — July 23, 2022: Alyssa Thomas the Tank Engine

Seattle falls to Phoenix and Skylar Diggins-Smith’s 35 points

Happy Saturday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 66 of the WNBA season is upon us, though perhaps the Chicago Sky wish it wasn’t, as they head into the second game of a back-to-back. Will they make it from Chicago to New York with no problems? Perhaps not. On Friday, Alyssa Thomas recorded her first career triple-double and the first in Connecticut Sun history. Thomas is the sixth player to record a triple-double this season and the 17th in WNBA history.

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Thomas became the fourth player at any position to record a triple-double along with three or more steals and the first frontcourt player to have one with 12 or more assists. That’s especially fitting because she leads the league’s frontcourt players in assists by 1.3 per game. Thomas’ triple-double is also the first with more than 10 assists and one or fewer turnovers, per Her Hoop Stats. Included in her accomplishment was Thomas’ 13th career 3-point attempt, a missed logo buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter. It became her fourth 3-point attempt in five years.

Elsewhere, the Phoenix Mercury treated a packed Footprint Center to a resounding win over the Seattle Storm, as Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi combined for 63 points. Finally, Chicago extended its winning streak to six with a victory over the Dallas Wings. A win in New York today would allow Chicago to tie the longest win streak of the season so far, per Across the Timeline.

But first, read…

  • Our Gabriella Lewis investigates the recent rise in attendance, energy and fan engagement for the Atlanta Dream.
  • Our Hayden Cilley takes you inside Sue Bird’s likely final outing against the Mercury and Taurasi, as well as Briann January’s farewell to Phoenix.
  • Our Tony East spoke with Sylvia Fowles about her many battles against the Indiana Fever throughout her time with the Minnesota Lynx following her final trip to Indy on July 15.
  • From the archives: Nov. 4, 1998 — For The Chicago Tribune, Jimmy Greenfield took readers through the late-’90s evolution of women’s basketball in Chicago, from the WBL’s Hustle to the ABL’s Condors, and the potential for a move into the WNBA.

Watch List, Saturday, July 23

(All times in ET, Game of the Day in bold)

Chicago @ New York, 7 p.m., NBA TV (Local: YES App, CW 26, SN)

Los Angeles @ Las Vegas, 10 p.m., NBA TV (Local: MYLVTV, Spectrum Sportsnet, NBA TV Canada)

Friday, July 22 recap

Connecticut (18–9) beat Minnesota (10–18), 94–84. The Sun built a multiple-possession lead through the end of the first quarter and a double-digit lead by the early second. Minnesota never led, allowing 22 points off of 17 turnovers. Overall, Connecticut shot 16.3 percentage points better than Minnesota from three and had five more steals, while the Lynx out-rebounded the Sun by six. With the loss, the Lynx remain two wins behind the eighth playoff spot with eight games left to play. The Sun have moved back into the third spot with nine games left.

Big wing DeWanna Bonner led the Sun and all scorers with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting (3–5 3pt) and four rebounds. Big wing Alyssa Thomas logged a triple-double with 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field (0–1 3pt, 1–2 FT), 10 rebounds and a career-high-tying 12 assists, along with three steals on five fouls. Point guard Natisha Hiedeman had six points on 2-for-5 shooting (2–5 3pt) and six assists. Point guard Bria Hartley had a season-high 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting (3–6 3pt), two assists and two steals in 19 minutes off the bench.

For Minnesota, combo forward Aerial Powers led with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting and two rebounds. Center Sylvia Fowles had 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field, four rebounds (two offensive) and three assists. In her season debut for the Lynx, point guard Lindsay Allen had nine points on 4-for-5 shooting, four rebounds and seven assists in 19 minutes off the bench.

Chicago (21–6) beat Dallas (11–15), 89–83. The Sky charged ahead early, building a double-digit lead by halftime. Entering the second half, however, a 7–0 Dallas run would close the gap, and by the late third quarter, the Wings had pulled within three. As the fourth quarter began, Dallas took a 10–2 run to grab a one-point lead, its first of the game. From there, the two teams traded baskets until Chicago went on a 7–1 run to secure the win. Overall, the Wings allowed 23 Sky points off of 15 turnovers and had seven more fouls, while Chicago logged four more blocks. The Sky are two games ahead of the Aces to stay in first place, while Dallas is one game behind Phoenix in the fight for the eighth seed.

For the Sky, wing Kahleah Copper led with 19 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field (3–3 3pt, 6–8 FT), five rebounds and three assists. Big Emma Meesseman stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting (1–2 3pt), five rebounds, a season-high nine assists, two steals and three blocks. Meesseman is just the fourth player to log that statline or better and the first in nine years, per Across the Timeline. Big Candace Parker had a double double with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field (1–5 3pt, 1–2 FT) and 10 rebounds (three offensive), along with three assists and three steals. Point guard Julie Allemand had a season-high 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting (1–2 3pt, 4–6 FT), two rebounds and six assists against three turnovers.

Off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale led Dallas and all scorers with 28 points on 10-for-21 shooting from the field (3–10 3pt, 5–5 FT), five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Center Teaira McCowan had 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting and three rebounds. Big Isabelle Harrison had 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting (2–2 FT) and one rebound off the bench for the Wings.

Phoenix (12–16) beat Seattle (17–10), 94–78. The teams traded baskets through the first half, the lead changing hands 14 times before a 42-42 tie at halftime. By the mid-third quarter, however, the Storm had taken the first significant lead of the game on an 8–3 run, spurred by back-to-back 3-pointers by combo guard Jewell Loyd. The fourth quarter was a different story, however, as Phoenix rallied to tie the game once again. Almost immediately, the Mercury launched a 24–2 run as the Storm went cold from the field and couldn’t respond, allowing Phoenix to run away with the win.

Overall, the Mercury shot 9.6 percentage points better from the field and 16.6 percentage points better from three than the Storm. Phoenix was nearly perfect from the free-throw line, going 20-for-21. Seattle out-rebounded Phoenix by five, while the Mercury logged six more blocks. Seattle sits at the fourth seed, one game behind Connecticut, while Phoenix keeps hold of the eighth spot.

Combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith led Phoenix and all scorers with 35 points on 12-for-19 shooting from the field (3–5 3pt, 8–9 FT), six rebounds and six assists against three turnovers. Combo guard Diana Taurasi had 28 points on 7-for-18 shooting (6–10 3pt, 8–8 FT), seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. Big Brianna Turner had five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks on four fouls. The Phoenix bench totaled just two points, three rebounds and one assist; it was the first time since 2007 that a team’s reserves have produced that little in a win, per Across the Timeline.

For Seattle, big wing Breanna Stewart had a double-double with 22 points on 10-for-21 shooting from the field (1–5 3pt) and 14 rebounds (five offensive), along with two steals. Center Tina Charles also had a double-double with 14 points on 7-for-17 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds (six offensive). Loyd had 15 points on 4-for-12 shooting (3–8 3pt, 4–4 FT), two rebounds and five assists.

Written by Isabel Rodrigues

Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing editor for The Next from upstate New York. She occasionally covers 3x3 and labor in women's basketball.

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