July 7, 2022 

Daily Briefing — July 7, 2022: SEEING TRIPLE-DOUBLE — Minnesota, New York devastate top teams

Han Xu cannot be stopped

Happy Thursday! A Monday holiday means a work week that goes by faster than you think, but I’m still cheering you on to the weekend. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the NCAA Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 53 of the WNBA season is here, as we await the host city for this year’s Comissioner’s Cup Championship. With the Las Vegas Aces taking a jaw-dropping loss to the New York Liberty (we’ll get to the particularly special triple-double, don’t worry), and the Chicago Sky losing out to the Minnesota Lynx in the final minutes, the two Cup Championship contenders are officially tied by overall record. Should the Sky beat the Fever later this evening, they’ll take the lead and Chicago will host the game. Should they lose, however, Las Vegas, who have better Comissioner’s Cup score differential, will host the game.


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So, about the New York Liberty. It’s hard to overstate just how groundbreaking of a performance the Liberty put together against the Aces. Here is just a snapshot of the history that was made last night:

Individually…

  • Sabrina Ionescu. What else is there to say? Her third career triple-double would alone be enough to tie the all-time league record (which Candace Parker set earlier this season). But Ionescu also did it in 31-point fashion, making her the first WNBA player to record a 30+ point triple-double, per Her Hoop Stats.
  • Just when you think it couldn’t get sweeter, Ionescu’s triple-double is the only one in WNBA history on zero turnovers, and the most efficient from three point range, as she sank 7-for-8 from deep.
  • Ionescu wasn’t the only one making history: Han Xu had one of the most efficient reserve performances in WNBA history, and certainly in her career. In just under 20 minutes, Han became the only reserve player to log her statline (24pt/8reb/3ast) or better, and the only player to do it in less than 20 minutes, per Across the Timeline.

As a team and with the Aces…

  • The Liberty’s 35 assists is a new league record for a single game.
  • The Liberty’s 18 made three-pointers ties the current league record, initially set by the Mystics in 2019.
  • 223 combined points is a new regulation (no overtime) all-time record (ATT).
  • 31 combined three-point attempts is a new all-time record (ATT).
  • 107 points is a new regulation all-time record for a losing team (ATT).
  • 2022 is the year of the triple-double, with a league single-season record five coming in just the first half of the season.

And then, because we like to have fun on TDB, yesterday was just the second time in WNBA history that, on the same day, one team made 0 threes while another made at least 15 threes in two different games. Which team made zero threes yesterday, you might ask? Read on to find out.

But first read…

  • Our Howard Megdal gives you the scoop on the Mercury’s likelihood to trade Skylar Diggins-Smith, among other happenings in Phoenix. ($)
  • From the archives: January 18, 1998 — For South Florida Sun-Sentinal, Sharon Robb unpacks the ABL All-Star Game at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Fieldhouse, during which Colorado Xplosion forward Sylvia Crawley’s blindfolded dunk won the halftime slam dunk contest.

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NCAA Roundup

Transfer portal:

Out of the portal:

  • Maori Davenport: The center out of Georgia transferred to Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Davenport had previous transferred from Rutgers in 2020.

Watch List, Thursday, July 7

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

Chicago @ Indiana, 7 p.m., League Pass (Local: Bally Sports Indiana, Marquee, TSN)

New York @ Phoenix, 10 p.m., Facebook (Local: Bally Sports Arizona, YES App)

Seattle @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., Twitter (Local: Spectrum Sportsnet, FOX13/Amazon Prime video, NBA TV Canada)

Wednesday, July 6 recap

Minnesota (8–15) beat Chicago (15–6), 81-78. Minnesota had the early lead off the back of an 8–0 run just before the mid-first, and it was off to the races. By the end of the first, Chicago had puled within three, and would tie the game come the start of the second quarter. This would continue throughout to the final minutes of play: the Lynx would make a run, and then the Sky would spend the remaining time clawing their way back. It wasn’t until the tail end of the fourth quarter that Chicago would regain the lead for the first time since the opening seconds, on a step-back three pointer from combo guard Allie Quigley. Ultimately, poor execution out of final timeouts for Chicago and Minnesota’s perfect free throw shooting in the final minute would push the Lynx to just their eighth win of the season, but their third win in their last four games. Overall, Minnesota shot 8.7 percentage points better than Chicago from the field and had six more steals. The Sky out-rebounded Lynx by six.

Off-ball guard Aerial Powers led the Lynx and all scorers with a double double on 22 points on 8-for-17 from the field (2–3 3pt, 4–5 FT) and a career-high-tying 11 rebounds. Center Sylvia Fowles notched 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting (4–4 FT) and seven rebounds on five turnovers. Point guard Moriah Jefferson had a quiet scoring night with just four points on 2-for-5 from the field, but logged six assists and a career-high-tying five steals against one turnover.

Wing Kahleah Copper led the Sky with 20 points on 7-for-17 from the field (1–3 3pt, 5–6 FT) and a season-high five assists on four turnovers and four fouls. Quigley notched 18 points on 7-for-18 from the field (4–11 3pt), a season-high seven rebounds, and three assists on three fouls. Big Candace Parker had a double double with 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting (3–8 3pt), 10 rebounds and six assists.

Washington (14–10) beat Atlanta (10–12), 85–66. Atlanta jumped out ahead on a 8–2 run, but Washington was quick to tie the match. In the first quarter alone there were six ties as the two teams bounced the lead between them. This would continue through the early fourth, when the Mystics took a 9–0 run that the Dream were never able to bounce back from. Back-to-back buckets from big Elena Delle Donne in the final three minutes launched an 11–0 Mystics run that would all but seal the win for Washington. Overall, Washington shot 35.0 percentage points better than the Dream from three, as Atlanta failed to sink a single of their 12 three point attempts. Atlanta shot 12.8 percentage points better than Washington from the free throw line, while the Mystics logged six fewer turnovers.

Delle Donne led the Mystics and all scorers with a season-high 26 points on 10-for-17 from the field (2–4 3pt, 4–4 FT) and eight rebounds in 27 minutes of play. This is just the 15th time a player logged that statline or better in as many or fewer minutes, per Across the Timeline. Point guard Natasha Cloud had 13 points on 5-for-9 from the field (2–4 3pt, 1–3 FT), four rebounds, and four assists. Big Myisha Hines-Allen logged 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, six rebounds, and two steals in her 21 minutes off the bench.

For the Dream, big Monique Billings logged 10 points on 4-for-6 from the field (2–4 FT), nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals against four fouls. Guards Tiffany Hayes and Rhyne Howard combined for 20 points on 9-for-24 shooting (0–8 3pt), five rebounds, and five assists between them.

New York (9–12) beat Las Vegas (15–7), 116–107. There were five lead changes before the Liberty took a 12–2 run to build a multiple-possession advantage, but the Aces would fight to cut the lead to two by the end of the first. In the opening minutes of the second, the Aces would take an 8–0 run, grabbing the lead and maintaining it until the early third, when an 11–0 New York brought the game within one once again. The game would remain close through the mid-fourth, when a 15–2 New York run allowed the Liberty to run away with the lead, and close out the win. Overall, New York shot 8.2 percentage points better from the field and 10.0 percentage points better from three than the Aces. The Liberty also assisted on 35 plays to the Aces’ 22.

Liberty combo guard Sabrina Ionescu led the Liberty and all-scorers with her third career triple-double and second of the season. Ionescu had a season-high 31 points on 10-for-13 from the field (7–8 3pt, 4–4 FT), a career-high-tying 13 rebounds (two offensive), and 10 assists on zero turnovers and three fouls. Point guard Marine Johannes logged 11 points on 4-for-12 from the field (3–8 3pt) and a season-high nine assists. Center Han Xu had a career-high 24 points on 11-for-12 from the field (2–2 3pt), a career-high-tying eight rebounds, and a career-high three assists on zero turnovers and three fouls in just under 20 minutes off the bench.

Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 29 points on 7-for-12 from the field (2–2 3pt, 13–15 FT), nine rebounds, and four assists. Wing Jackie Young had 24 points on 8-for-11 from the field (2–2 3pt, 6–6 FT), four rebounds, and two assists on four fouls. Off the bench, center Iliana Rupert had notched a season-high 13 points on 5-for-7 from the field (3–4 3pt), two rebounds, a season-high two assists, and a season-high two steals in her 23 minutes. This is just the sixth time this season that an Aces reserve player would have 10 points or more, per Across the Timeline.

Written by Isabel Rodrigues

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

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