June 2, 2022 

Daily Briefing — June 2, 2022: Liberty secure second win in hard-fought match against Indiana

It continues to be Rhyne Howard's world

It’s Thursday, which means the weekend is almost here. You’ve got this, we believe in you. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 24 of the WNBA season is finally here, bringing with it a highly anticipated rematch of the Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces. Last night, the New York Liberty finally pulled out a win and Sabrina Ionescu was back to the superstar production we’ve come to expect from the guard. Granted, the victory came over the Indiana Fever, who were on the wrong side of a back-to-back, but who’s counting? (Editor’s note: it seems like you are, Isabel!)

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Then, in Atlanta, the magic continues as the Dream will their way into their best season start since 2018, and the Lynx just couldn’t hold on.

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But first read…

  • Our Rowan Schaberg recaps what’s still under construction for the Seattle Storm, who started the season with players overseas and five players in COVID-19 protocols.
  • Our Jenn Hatfield details the long and on-going career of Mystics assistant general manager Maria Giovannetti, her steady rise through the ranks, and what she means to Mystics players and staff.
  • WNBA.com’s Mark Schindler kicks off a new series, “Elite is Elite”, with a deep dive into the best footwork around the league and how post players are leveling-up their game.

W Roundup

Minnesota: Signed guard Kamiah Smalls to a hardship contract.

New York: Small forward Betnijah Laney underwent a meniscus surgery on her right knee and will miss the next eight weeks of the season.

Watch List

(All times in Eastern)

Sun @ Aces, 10 p.m., Facebook Watch (Local: MYLVTV, NESN+, Radio: ESPN Las Vegas 1100 AM & 100.9 FM)

Wednesday, June 1 recap

Atlanta beat Minnesota, 84–76. For the opening minutes the score stayed fairly tight, as the two teams battled for an early lead. The Dream went on a 8–0 run in the mid-first, fueled by success in the mid-range and heavy defense on Lynx center Sylvia Fowles. They were able to maintain their distance from Minnesota until the mid-third, when the Lynx went on a 15–0 run to cut the Atlanta lead to just three, and eventually taking a one-point lead. Yet, the Dream were able to capitalize from beyond the arc late in the third and into the fourth quarter, mounting a multiple-possession lead the Lynx weren’t able to overcome by the final buzzer. Overall, the Dream topped the Lynx from three, 42.9 to 33.3 percent, and snagged 11 more steals while logging just 14 turnovers to Minnesota’s 26, though their 50% free throw percentage on 6-for-12 was less than ideal.

Shooting guard Rhyne Howard led the Dream and all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-19 from the field (3–7 3pt), along with four rebounds, two assists and three steals on four fouls. Howard was particularly sharp in the mid-range, which helped space the floor for the Dream as they picked up most of their points from outside the paint. Shooting guard Kristy Wallace was lethal from beyond the arc, as she sank 5-for-6 from three on her way to a season-high 18 points. Point-guard Erica Wheeler notched a season-high 9 assists on one turnover, along with four steals, while shooting 5-for-11 from the field for 13 points.

Twenty-six seconds of Rhyne Howard magic to help you get through your Thursday. Inside, you’ll find plenty of mid-range pull-ups and long-twos galore!

For the Lynx, center Sylvia Fowles led the way with a season-high 20 rebounds (1 offensive) and 16 points on 7-for-9 from the field, for her sixth double double of the season. Shooting guard Kayla McBride notched 20 points on 7-for-17 from the field (3–9 3pt), while combo guard Rachel Banham had nine points on 3-for-5 from three and a season-high six assists. Power forward Ariel Powers had eight points on 2-for-5 from the field (4–4 FT), four rebounds and one steal in her 18 minutes off the bench.

New York beat Indiana, 87–74. The Liberty jumped into a 15–2 run from the opening seconds of the game and prevented Indiana from getting on the scoreboard for nearly four minutes. Soon after, however, the Fever would go on a 17–2 run of their own, and by the mid-second quarter they had taken a one-point lead. Indiana would go on to build and then immediately lose hold of a 12-point advantage as New York found their footing from behind the arc in the mid-third. The game remained close until the mid-fourth, when the Fever went cold from the field, allowing a determined Liberty squad to take just their second win of the season. The Liberty out-scored the Fever from the field by 37%, and blocked nine shots to the Fever’s four. Indiana was perfect from the free throw line at 15-for-15, and logged four more steals than New York.

Point guard Sabrina Ionescu led the Liberty and all scorers with 23 points on 6-for-11 from the field (3–7 3pt, 8–8 FT) along with seven rebounds on three turnovers and four fouls. Center Stefanie Dolson had a standout game, as her 16 points (on 5-for-8 shooting, 2–3 3pt, 4–4 FT), eight rebounds (four offensive), seven assists, and three blocks were each season-highs. Thankfully her five fouls were not a season-high. Power forward Natasha Howard also had 16 points, on 6-for-10 from the field (2–5 3pt, 2–3 FT), along with seven rebounds and two blocks on six turnovers and three fouls. Center Han Xu continued her notably efficient play, pulling seven points, six rebounds, and two blocks out of just 15 minutes off the bench.

In the face of a 12-point deficit, Ionescu, Dolson, guard Rebecca Allen, and point guard Crystal Dangerfield will a Liberty comeback and a shot at the win.

For the Fever, point guard Kelsey Mitchell logged 17 points on 5-for-16 from the field (3–9 3pt, 4–4 FT) and four assists on two turnovers. Shooting guard Victoria Vivians had 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists on three turnovers and four fouls. Power forward NaLyssa Smith had a quiet scoring night with just four points on 2-for-9 from the field, but also notched six rebounds and a season-high four assists.

TDB Emily “gets her own offensive rebound” Engstler watch: Sadly, none to report.

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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