June 26, 2022 

Daily Briefing — June 26, 2022: UNDERDOG DAYS — Upsets take hold across the WNBA

Aces come up short and Sparks make it rain

It’s Sunday. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 42 of the WNBA season has arrived, with absolutely nothing of note happening to any of the league’s top players, especially not Tina Charles. Charles, who definitely hasn’t parted ways with the Phoenix Mercury after just 16 games and who absolutely has not been in talks to secure a contract from the Seattle Storm. Never in a million years, but hey, anything can happen, right?

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Last night was full of surprises, as the team with the worse record won each of the three games. In Las Vegas, the Aces faced their first overtime of the season, to fumble in the final seconds as the Mystics took advantage with the help of point guard Natasha Cloud’s near-perfect free-throw shooting. In Seattle, the Sparks finally found their stride, overwhelming the Storm on the boards and from the field on their way to their second win in five games. Finally, an eight-person Mercury squad in Dallas grabs a win over the Wings.

But first, read…

  • Our Em Adler (yes, that one) gets you caught up on all things Tina Charles and the Seattle Storm, from how the move is happening, to how Charles fits in with the rest of the Seattle squad.
  • Our Antonio Losada checks in with the EuroLeague as it kicks off its off-season with major signings for Italian clubs.
  • Yahoo Sports’  Cassandra Negley tracks the history and impact of Title IX on pioneers in women’s basketball and what it means for the early history of the sport to be so inaccessible to modern fans and young players.

W Roundup

Phoenix: Waived center Tina Charles in a contract divorce (buyout). Charles is now a free agent.

Watch List, Sunday, June 26

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

Connecticut @ Atlanta, 3:00 p.m., Amazon Prime (Local: Bally Sports South, NESN+)

Minnesota @ Chicago, 6:00 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: Marquee, Bally Sports North)

Saturday, June 25 recap

Phoenix (7–12) beat Dallas (9–10), 83–72. Dallas took the early lead, posting a 10-point advantage by the end of the first quarter as Phoenix landed two techs in just 10 minutes of play. The Wings managed to keep their distance for most of the second quarter, but a 9–2 Mercury run in the final minute before halftime cut the Dallas lead to one. Entering the third, the Mercury finally managed to tie the game and a Dallas technical foul gave Phoenix their first lead since the opening minutes.

By the mid-point of the fourth, however, the Wings went cold from the field, opening the door for Phoenix to take an 11–2 run and close out the win. Overall, Phoenix shot 31.6 percentage points better than Dallas from the free-throw line and had four more steals.

Combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith led Phoenix and all scorers with 26 points on 11-for-25 from the field (1–5 3pt, 3–4 FT), along with four rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks on four turnovers and five fouls. Point guard Shey Peddy had five points on 2-for-6 from the field, five rebounds and six assists. Wing Diamond DeShields had 16 points on 4-for-11 from the field (8–10 FT), a season-high 10 rebounds and three assists on five fouls for her first double-double of the season.

Buckets from Diggins-Smith to take back the lead for Phoenix, eventually leading to the win.

For Dallas, off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale had 25 points on 10-for-23 from the field (3–13 3pt), four rebounds and six assists. Big Isabelle Harrison had 15 points on 5-for-10 from the field (5–8 FT) and 10 rebounds on five fouls for her third double-double of the season.

Los Angeles (7–10) beat Seattle (11–7), 85–77. Seattle jumped out ahead, but Los Angeles wasn’t far behind. As the Storm struggled to get shots to fall entering the second, the Sparks took advantage, grabbing the lead and maintaining it through the end of the third. The score was tied at 68 apiece to open the fourth quarter and would be tied three more times before Los Angeles pulled away on a 10–2 run to seal the win.

Overall, the Sparks shot 10.4 percentage points better from three than the Storm and had nine more free throw attempts (eight more makes). Los Angeles out-rebounded Seattle by 15, while the Storm logged five more blocks than the Sparks.

The Sparks run, which pushed them ahead for the win.

For the Sparks, big Nneka Ogwumike had 24 points on 12-for-18 from the field, alongside four rebounds and three assists on four turnovers and three fouls. Combo forward Katie Lou Samuelson had 17 points on 7-for-10 from the field (3–5 3pt), six rebounds and a career-high six assists on three turnovers and three fouls. Point guard Brittney Sykes logged 15 points on 6-for-15 from the field (1–3 3pt, 2–3 FT), a career-high eight assists and three steals on three fouls.

Big wing Breanna Stewart led the Storm and all scorers with 28 points on 8-for-16 from the field (4–7 3pt, 8–10 FT), which she had alongside seven rebounds and five assists. Center Ezi Magbegor had 16 points on 6-for-7 from the field (3–4 FT), four rebounds, a career-high three steals and three blocks on five fouls.

Washington (12–9) beat Las Vegas (13–4), 87–86 OT. With seven lead changes in the first quarter, audiences strapped in for what was sure to be a nailbiter to the final seconds. The two teams continued to battle through the second quarter until the Mystics took an 8–2 run to grab a two-possession lead before halftime. Entering the third, Washington was able to maintain its lead, even as it shrunk to as little as one point. As the final seconds ticked down, with the Aces down just three points, wing Jackie Young stuck a clutch three-pointer to tie the score and send the game to overtime.

Las Vegas would score just twice in the final five minutes and were forced to commit fouls that sent Washington point guard Cloud to the free-throw line for the final points to steal away the win. Overall, the Mystics shot 8.8 percentage points better than the Aces from the field and logged four more blocks while the Aces snagged seven more steals.

Both teams get inside the paint as they continued to pass the lead between them.

Off-ball guard Alysha Clark led Washington with a season-high 20 points on 8-for-11 from the field (4–6 3pt), eight rebounds and a season-high four steals on three fouls. Cloud had 16 points on 5-for-10 from the field (1–6 3pt, 5–6 FT) and 10 assists on three turnovers and three fouls. This was Cloud’s 23rd consecutive game with five or more assists, per Across the Timeline. This gives Cloud the third-longest streak just ahead of Courtney Vandersloot’s 2019 streak.

Big Elena Delle Donne had 19 points on 7-for-17 from the field (2–6 3pt, 3–3 FT), a season-high 10 rebounds, three assists and five blocks for her first double-double of the season.

For the Aces, point guard Kelsey Plum had 20 points on 7-for-18 from the field (5–10 3pt), two assists and a career-high six steals. Young also logged 20 points, hers on 7-for-15 from the field (1–2 3pt, 5–5 FT), alongside three assists on three fouls. Center A’ja Wilson had 17 points on 6-for-16 from the field (2–3 3pt, 3–3 FT), 14 rebounds (four offensive) and three blocks on four turnovers and four fouls.

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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