July 29, 2022
Daily Briefing — July 29, 2022: Connecticut Sun clinch playoff spot
Plus: three all-or-nothing wins and clutch performances across the league
Happy Friday! What a week it’s been. Welcome to the finish line, and to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 71 of the WNBA season is upon us, with a much-needed win on the line for both New York and Chicago as they face off for the second time. For New York, it’s a matter of getting one game closer to the final playoff spot, while for Chicago, a win would mean keeping their distance from Las Vegas in the race for the top spot. Speaking of playoff news, on Thursday night, in Sue Bird’s final regular season match in Connecticut, the Connecticut Sun clinched their playoff spot after a back-and-forth battle with the Seattle Storm.
But first read…
- Our Maria Marino checks in with Layshia Clarendon, their foundation, taking a break from the WNBA and plenty more.
- Our Gabriela Carroll highlights the two newest members of Rutgers head coach Coquese Washington’s staff, Tasha Pointer and Nikki McCray-Penson.
Minnesota: Signed point guard Lindsay Allen to a second 7-day contract with the team after her previous contract expired.
Phoenix: Released combo forward Kaela Davis.
Watch List, Friday, July 29
(All times in ET, Game of the Day in bold)
Las Vegas @ Indiana, 7 p.m., NBA TV (Local: Indiana Fever Livestream, MVLVTV, NBA TV Canada)
New York @ Chicago, 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: CW 26)
Thursday, July 28 recap
Connecticut (20–9) beat Seattle (18–11), 88–83. Seattle took the early lead, going on a 13–4 run in the opening minutes of play, but Connecticut would go on an 11–4 run of their own to cut the lead to just three. From there, the two teams would trade baskets until an 8–0 Sun run powered by back-to-back-to-back plays from big wing Alyssa Thomas gave Connecticut their first lead of the game. The Connecticut Sun would expand their lead through the mid-third, but couldn’t hold off the Storm for much longer, as Seattle quickly brought themselves within striking distance once again. Back-to-back plays from Storm big wing Breanna Stewart tied the game in the mid-fourth at 79 apiece, but a clutch three-pointer from Sun combo guard Natisha Hiedeman gave the Sun the wiggle room they needed to close out the win over the Storm.
Overall, the two teams were fairly evenly matched, with Seattle’s starters out-scoring Connecticut’s by 17, while the Sun bench out-scored the Storm’s by 22. Seattle made just one more three-pointer than Connecticut on the same number of attempts (19), while the Sun grabbed three more rebounds.
Thomas led the Connecticut Sun and all scorers with a fourth-consecutive double double of 19 points on 8-for-11 from the field (3–3 FT) and 11 assists, along with five rebounds and two steals on four turnovers. Thomas is just the third player in WNBA history to log that statline or better, per Across the Timeline. Big wing DeWanna Bonner notched a double double, with 12 points on 4-for-14 shooting (2–8 3pt, 2–2 FT) and 10 rebounds. Off the bench for Connecticut, point guard Nia Clouden shot a perfect 2-for-2 from three for six points and grabbed one steal in her 13 minutes. Off-ball guard DiJonai Carrington had 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting (2–3 3pt, 3–3 FT), two rebounds and two assists in her 16 minutes.
Stewart led Seattle with 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting (1–4 3pt, 2–3 FT), three rebounds and two steals. Off-ball guard Gabby Williams stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting (1–4 3pt, 3–4 FT), nine rebounds (three offensive), four assists and three steals. Point guard Sue Bird logged 14 points on 4-for-6 from the field (4–5 3pt, 2–2 FT) and seven assists. The Seattle bench combined for eight points on 3-for-9 shooting, five rebounds, two steals and one block in 44 minutes played.
Minnesota (11–19) beat Atlanta (12–17), 92–85. Minnesota grabbed the early lead and never looked back, out-scoring Atlanta by 20 over the first half. The Lynx would slow down somewhat in the second half, as they struggled with turnovers and shots started to bounce out; the Dream were quick to take advantage, out-scoring Minnesota by 13 in the fourth quarter. But, it wasn’t enough to cover Atlanta’s less than desirable first half, despite coming within five points of the lead. Overall, Minnesota shot 17 percentage points better from the field and 23.9 percentage points better from three than Atlanta, and grabbed eight more rebounds. The Dream logged seven more steals and had six fewer turnovers than the Lynx.
Off-ball guard Aerial Powers led Minnesota and all scorers with 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting (1–4 3pt, 4–4 FT), two rebounds and two assists. Center Sylvia Fowles had a double double of 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting (2–4 FT) and 14 rebounds on four fouls. Point guard Moriah Jefferson logged 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting (2–2 3pt), three rebounds and seven assists on eight turnovers. Off-ball guard Bridget Carleton notched eight points on 3-for-4 from the field (2–2 3pt) and two rebounds in her 11 minutes off the bench.
For Atlanta, wing Tiffany Hayes had 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting (2–6 3pt, 8–9 FT), four rebounds and two assists. Hayes fouled out with three minutes remaining in the fourth. Big Cheyenne Parker notched 16 points on 4-for-7 from the field (8–9 FT), six rebounds, two assists and two steals on four fouls. Wing Rhyne Howard logged 18 points on 7-for-20 shooting (2–6 3pt), two rebounds and two assists.
Washington (18–11) beat Dallas (12–16), 87–77. Washington grabbed the early lead, and sprinted ahead from there, quickly mounting a multiple-possession advantage over Dallas. As the Wings struggled to, well, find their wings, the Mystics pushed on ahead, building a 20-point lead by halftime. Though Dallas was able to cut the lead to just 10 by the late-fourth, out-scoring Washington by three in the final quarter, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for a disappointing performance in the earlier three quarters and the Mystics landed themselves the win. Overall, Washington shot 18 percentage points better from the field and a staggering 37.3 percentage points better from three than the Wings. Dallas grabbed 11 more rebounds, most of which came on the offensive glass,
For Washington, point guard Natasha Cloud logged 14 points on 4-for-11 shooting (2–3 3pt, 4–4 FT), four rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Big Myisha Hines-Allen had 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting (1–3 3pt, 3–6 FT), four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Center Shakira Austin had 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting and five rebounds (two offensive) against five turnovers. Austin fouled out in the final seconds of play. Off-ball guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had nine points on 2-for-3 shooting (5–6 FT), three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in her 19 minutes off the bench.
Center Teaira McCowan led Dallas and all scorers with a double double on a career-high 27 points on 9-for-11 shooting (9–16 FT) and a season-high 11 rebounds (seven offensive). McCowan also had two assists and two blocks on five fouls. Off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale had 19 points on 6-for-17 shooting (3–8 3pt, 4–6 FT), six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Wing Marina Mabrey had 8 points on 3-for-15 shooting, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Phoenix (13–16) beat Los Angeles (12–16), 90–80. Phoenix leapt ahead early, opening up an 11-point lead by late-first quarter, and expanded it through halftime as Los Angeles struggled to respond. By the mid-third, the lead had ballooned to 27, but after Mercury combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was ejected in the early fourth, the Sparks started to cut into the lead. It wasn’t enough to overtake Phoenix, who managed to keep enough distance from Los Angeles to secure the win.
Combo guard Diana Taurasi led Phoenix and all scorers with 30 points on 7-for-18 shooting (5–13 3pt, 11–12 FT), six rebounds, two assists and two steals against six turnovers. Diggins-Smith logged 27 points on 12-for-20 from the field (3–4 FT), five rebounds and six assists on five fouls, but was ejected in the early fourth after receiving two technical fouls. Point guard Shey Peddy logged 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting (1–2 3pt), four rebounds, four assists and three steals against five turnovers.
For the Sparks, point guard Chennedy Carter led with a season-high 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting (6–6 FT), one rebound and one steal in her 20 minutes off the bench. Big Nneka Ogwumike had a double double with 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting (3–3 FT) and 11 rebounds (two offensive), as well as a season-high five assists.
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.