June 20, 2022 

Daily Briefing — June 20, 2022: FALSE SHEPARD — Jessica Shepard’s rough math punctuates thrilling day

Sue Bird Day turns into Team France Day in New York

Happy Juneteenth! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 36 of the WNBA season was here, featuring the W continuing to forget how to do basic math. In a three-point game, with five seconds remaining, Jessica Shepard took the inbounds and drove hard towards the paint. She spun around, and every viewer expected her to kick out to a shooter. … Except she kept spinning and took a tough fadeaway shot on A’ja Wilson. And she made it, quite impressively, for her 21st and 22nd points of the day! And she did it as the buzzer sounded and a very confused Las Vegas team won a nail-biter.

As Cheryl Reeve put it postgame: “Jess feels bad about that, but she played a hell of a game. If not for her 22 and 19, we’re not in the game.”

That nail-biter was one of three Sunday thrillers! Sue Bird’s final homecoming came down to the wire, before she hit a dagger three, and the Fever edged Chicago by two. Dallas and Los Angeles were also close for most of the running, but the Sparks continue to struggle in both offensive execution and closing out on three-point shooters — 13 made threes by Dallas — and L.A. lost.

Oh and Washington throttled Connecticut, which means that despite their loss, the Sky will be in the Commissioner’s Cup! The Aces will likely host the Cup, unless all of the following happens:

  1. Vegas loses to the Storm and Lynx this week
  2. Chicago beats the Aces in their Tuesday rematch
  3. Chicago makes up 2.5 games in the standings over the teams’ seven games after that rematch

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But first, read:

W Roundup

Las Vegas: Center Iliana Rupert signed her rookie-scale contract, officially joining the Aces

Watch List, Monday, June 20

(All times in Eastern, Game Of The Day in bold)

None

Sunday, June 19 recap

Seattle beat New York, 81-72. The Storm led by nine in the second quarter and eight in the mid-third quarter, but the Liberty led as late as 7:36 in the fourth; Seattle closed on an 8-0 run. The teams both shot 10-for-27 from three (ooh, spooky), and combined for just 13 free-throws, fewest in a WNBA game this season, per Across The Timeline.

Off-ball guard Gabby Williams led the Storm with a season-high 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting (2-3 3pt.), nine rebounds, and three assists against three turnovers; big wing Breanna Stewart had 18 points on 7-for-16 FG (1-4 3pt.), nine rebounds, and two assists against three turnovers and four fouls in 32 minutes; point guard Sue Bird had 11 points on 3-for-7 from three (1-2 from two), three rebounds, and four assists.

New York was led by wing Marine Johannès’ career-high 23 points on 9-for-12 from the field and a career-high-5-for-8 from three, three rebounds, and four assists against two turnovers; point guard Sabrina Ionescu finished just shy of a triple-double, with 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting (2-6 3pt.), eight rebounds, and ten assists, plus two steals against five turnovers; big Natasha Howard had a double-double with 11 points on 5-for-15 FG and a season-high 11 rebounds, plus two assists and two blocks against four fouls in 30 minutes.

Washington beat Connecticut, 71-63. The game was close for the first five minutes, then the Mystics went on a 23-8 run. The teams both shot 6-for-19 from three (ooh, spooooky); the Sun won the rebounding battle by 13.

Off-ball guard Ariel Atkins led Washington with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting (2-3 3pt.), four rebounds, and six assists, plus two steals; big Elena Delle Donne had 15 points on 6-for-12 FG (1-2 3pt.), six rebounds, two assists, and two blocks against three turnovers; off-ball guard Alysha Clark notched 10 points on 4-for-11 from the field and 2-for-7 from three, four rebounds, and five assists against two turnovers.

Connecticut was led by big wing Jonquel Jones’ 15-point, season-high-16-rebound double-double on 5-for-13 from the field (0-3 3pt.) and 5-for-8 from the line with six offensive boards against four turnovers; combo guard Courtney Williams struggled to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting (1-4 3pt.), three rebounds, and two assists — she’s currently putting up the second-worst shooting season of her career, and her second-worst turnover rate, despite running the lowest usage rate of her career.

Indiana beat Chicago, 89-87. The Sky went on a 21-3 run from the mid-second quarter through the early third; the Fever scored 35 points in the third. Chicago shot 45.0% from three, while Indiana took only eight threes, tied for second-fewest in a W game this season, per ATT; the Fever won the rebounding battle by 12; the teams combined for 40 fouls.

Indiana was led by big NaLyssa Smith’s “career”-high 26 points on 11-for-17 FG (1-1 3pt.) and 11 rebounds for a double-double against two turnovers; combo guard Kelsey Mitchell had 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting (0-2 3pt.) and a career-high-tying nine assists without a turnover; bench off-ball guard Lexie Hull played 24 minutes — believe it or not — and scored 10 points on 3-for-5 from the field (1-3 3pt.) and three rebounds.

Wing Kahleah Copper led the Sky with a career-high 28 points on 8-for-13 from the field, 4-for-6 from three, and 8-for-10 from the line, four rebounds, and two assists against three turnovers; point guard Courtney Vandersloot had 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting (1-2 3pt.) and seven assists in 25 minutes; big Emma Meesseman fouled-out in 33 minutes, finishing with 12 points on 6-for-13 FG (0-1 3pt.), eight rebounds (three offensive), four assists, and three blocks against three turnovers.

Dallas beat Los Angeles, 92-82. The Wings went on a 22-4 run between the late second and mid-third quarters. Dallas shot 19.8% better from three; the teams combined for 19 steals and 46 fouls. The Wings’ bench shot 0-for-9.

Dallas was led by wing Allisha Gray’s 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting (3-6 3pt.) and a season-high 12 rebounds for a double-double, plus six assists and three steals against three turnovers — the seventh 20/12/6/3 game in W history, per ATT; off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale had 27 points on 9-for-18 from the field and 5-for-9 from three, seven rebounds, and three assists against four turnovers and five fouls in 31 minutes; wing Marina Mabrey scored 21 points on 9-for-16 FG (3-8 3pt.) and five assists against four fouls in 31 minutes.

Big Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with a double-double of 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting (5-6 FT) and 10 rebounds, plus two steals against two turnovers; off-ball guard Brittney Sykes had 16 points on 4-for-8 from the field (2-3 3pt.) and 6-for-9 from the line, two assists, and two steals against two turnovers and four fouls in 23 minutes off the bench; backup center Chiney Ogwumike had 12 points on 4-for-8 FG (1-1 3pt.) and a season-high 10 rebounds (three offensive) for a double-double in 18 minutes, plus two steals without a turnover.

Las Vegas beat Minnesota, 96-95. The game was mostly within one possession for most of the first quarter-and-a-half, then the Lynx went on a 10-2 run; the Aces retook the lead on a 20-4 run. The teams shot similarly overall, but Las Vegas took 13 more free-throws, while Minnesota won the rebounding battle by 12.

Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 25 points on 9-for-15 FG (2-2 3pt.), eight rebounds, four assists, and two blocks against two turnovers and four fouls in 35 minutes; point guard Kelsey Plum had 21 points on 8-for-22 from the field and 2-for-9 from three, four rebounds, and six assists without a turnover against four fouls in 37 minutes; point guard Chelsea Gray notched 16 points on 6-for-14 shooting (1-5 3pt.), six rebounds, and eight assists against three turnovers.

The Lynx were led by combo forward Jessica Shepard’s career-highs of 22 points and 19 rebounds for a double-double on 9-for-11 FG with a career-high six offensive boards, plus six assists against two turnovers in 28 minutes off the bench — the first 20/18 performance off the bench in league history, and just the second player to have a 20/18/6 game (Lisa Leslie, twice), per ATT; point guard Moriah Jefferson had a season-high 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting (3-4 3pt.), four rebounds, and seven assists without a turnover; off-ball guard Aerial Powers notched 15 points on 5-for-14 from the field and 3-for-6 from three, three rebounds, and four assists against three rebounds.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the Seattle Storm and college basketball for The Next, while also writing for The Chronicle, Duke's independent student paper

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