June 6, 2022 

Daily Briefing — June 6, 2022: Too many games, not enough eyes

The plot thickens as all twelve teams impress in Sunday’s six-game spectacular

It’s Monday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W and NCAA Roundups, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Can you believe the season started just one month ago? Day 26 of the WNBA season was one for the history books, with season and career highs around the league, momentum shifts and new records abound. Though we might want to fire the schedule-maker, whoever is writing this season deserves a raise.

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In Houston, a rally and prayer vigil will be held tonight in support of Brittney Griner at the Toyota Center between La Branch and Polk Street at 6 p.m. CT. Houston-area community leaders will be in attendance, as well as Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. More information about the event can be found here.

But first read…

  • For The Hartford Courant, Lila Bromberg explores the impact of commercial travel on player health (both COVID-19 and otherwise), scheduling games, and the league’s options going forward.
  • For The Star Tribune, Kent Youngblood reveals the impact Title IX had on Lynx GM and Head Coach Cheryl Reeve, from her journey to college basketball to her hopes for the future of the WNBA.

W Roundup

Indiana: Signed power forward Emma Cannon.

NCAA Roundup

Transfer portal

Out of the portal

  • Eboni Walker: The forward out of Syracuse committed to Ohio State. She played six games for Syracuse before a season-ending injury in early November of last year.

Watch List, Monday, June 6

None. But there were four simultaneous games yesterday night, so even if you had four screens working at one, there’s plenty of basketball to catch up on (spoilers ahead).

Sunday, June 5 recap

Minnesota beat New York, 84–77. The Lynx took a 9–2 run to kick off the match, but the Liberty were quick to mount a comeback as the New York defense adjusted. However, as the Lynx took over in the early second as the Liberty went cold from three, eventually building a double-digit lead. By the game’s end, the Liberty would shoot just 13.3% from three as a team. Yet, entering the fourth quarter, the Liberty went on an 18–3 run and had suddenly cut Minnesota’s lead to just one. Fortunately for the Lynx, back-to-back plays from shooting guard Aerial Powers brought them back to life, as Minnesota made a final push to close out their third win. Overall, the Lynx out-shot the Liberty by a staggering 304% from three and attempted seven more free throws.

Powers’ back-to-back plays to bring life back into the Lynx and push them to the finish line ahead of the Liberty.

The Lynx were led by Powers, who had a season-high 27 points on 11-for-22 from the field (3–3 3pt) along with seven rebounds (two offensive). Center Sylvia Fowles logged 18 points on 7-for-10 from the field, and grabbed eight rebounds (three offensive) on four turnovers and three fouls. Combo guard Rachel Banham had 11 points on 5-for-11 from the field (1–4 3pt), four assists, and a season-high six rebounds on three fouls. Minnesota’s bench saw limited usage, but forward Bridget Carleton had three assists and three rebounds on two fouls in her 13 minutes.

Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu led all-scorers with 31 points on 13-for-24 from the field (3–11 3pt), five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals, marking just the seventh time a player has logged that statline or better, per HerHoopStats. Power forward Natasha Howard had 20 points on 9-for-15 from the field, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a season-high three blocks. Off the bench, forward Michaela Onyenwere and center Han Xu combined for 17 points on 6-for-7 from the field and eleven rebounds between them. Xu also logged two steals and a block in her 23 minutes.

Atlanta beat Indiana, 75–66. Though the Dream took an early lead, the Fever weren’t too far behind. However, an 8–1 Atlanta run at the end of the first gave would give the Dream a multiple-possession advantage they would hold onto until late in the second quarter. Though the Fever came within striking distance multiple times throughout the third quarter, they were never quite able to pull ahead. A 9–3 run from the Dream in the final two minutes of the third was enough to create an insurmountable lead and secure a win for Atlanta.

For the Dream, forward Nia Coffey had her second career double-double with 16 points on 7-for-11 from the field (1–1 3pt) and 10 rebounds on four turnovers and four fouls. Guard-forward Rhyne Howard also had 16 points, hers on 6-for-11 from the field (2–3 3pt) along with five rebounds and two steals. Point guard Erica Wheeler had a quiet scoring night with just four points on 2-for-10 from the field, but secured four assists, three rebounds, and five steals. Forward Monique Billings had six rebounds and one block on three turnovers and two fouls in her 12 minutes off the bench.

Some of the Dream’s 9-3 run to pull ahead of the Fever and forge far enough ahead to all but ensure the win.

Fever shooting guard Kelsey Mitchell led all scorers with 20 points and two assists, but also logged six turnovers and three fouls. Point guard Danielle Robinson had six points on 1-for-6 from the field (0–2 3pt, 4–4 FT) along with four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Off the bench, forward Emily Engstler also had six points, hers on 2-for-8 from the field (1–2 3pt), along with seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Point guard Destanni Henderson had five points, five assists, and two rebounds on one turnover and two fouls in her 18 minutes.

Chicago beat Washington, 91–82. Entering Sunday’s match with a so-far perfect Commissioner’s Cup record, the Sky took an early lead and would hold on to it. Even as the Mystics came within one possession and tied the game multiple times, opportunistic plays in transition and strong ball movement in the half-court allowed Chicago to maintain their advantage. When Washington couldn’t respond to an 11–3 Chicago run to open the fourth quarter, the door opened for the Sky to all but ensure victory. Overall, the Sky out-shot the Mystics by 22% from the field and by 29% from three. Though Washington sank a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line, Chicago had 8 more attempts and made four more.

Dishes and dimes from the Sky, both off of steals and in transition, as well as in the half-court.

For the Sky, small forward Kahleah Copper led with 15 points on 7-for-15 from the field (1–3 3pt), six rebounds, and two assists on three turnovers. Power forward Candace Parker logged a double double with 12 points on 4-for-9 from the field (2–3 3pt) and 13 rebounds, alongside six assists and two steals on three turnovers. Power forward Emma Meesseman logged five steals, four rebounds, and a season-high six assists alongside 13 points on 6-for-7 from the field (1–3 FT). In her 19 minutes off the bench, point guard Dana Evans notched 12 points on 3-for-7 shooting (2–4 3pt, 4–4 FT), four assists, two rebounds, and Chicago’s only block.

Mystics forward Tianna Hawkins led Washington and all-scorers with 21 points on 8-for-13 from the field (1–4 3pt, 4–4 FT) alongside four rebounds on three turnovers and three fouls. Power forward Myisha Hines-Allen had 13 points on 6-for-15 from the field (1–4 3pt), three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Point guard Natasha Cloud logged six assists, four rebounds and three steals, as well as two points on 1-for-6 from the field.

Phoenix beat Los Angeles, 81–74. It’s a race to the bottom of the WNBA standings, and for Phoenix, the match against LA was an opportunity to pass up the last-place ranking to Indiana. Neither team was able to establish a firm lead until Phoenix took a 10–0 run in the mid-first. Despite multiple opportunities for the Sparks to leap ahead in the first half, LA wasn’t able to get over the hump until the mid-third, when the teams traded the lead five times. By the mid-fourth, however, the Mercury grabbed the lead on a clutch three-pointer from point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and the Sparks ran out of gas as the final minutes wound down. In the end, Phoenix out-shot LA from three by 20% and made 18-of-20 free throws to LA’s 11-for-16.

To seal the deal over LA, two daggers from Diggins-Smith and as much of a sneaky in-bound steal from Peddy that I could manage.

Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith led all scorers with a season-high 29 points on 10-for-16 from the field (3–4 3pt, 6–6 FT), along with two assists on two turnovers. Guard Diana Taurasi had 19 points on 6-for-15 from the field (3–9 3pt, 4–5 FT), along with seven assists on five turnovers and four fouls. Power forward Brianna Turner notched nine points on 3-for-5 from the field (3–4 FT) and nine rebounds, along with three assists and two steals on two turnovers and four fouls. Though the Phoenix roster was limited, point guard Shey Peddy logged 10 points, two rebounds and two steals off the bench.

For LA, power forward Nneka Ogwumike led with 19 points on 8-for-11 from the field (3–4 FT), along with seven rebounds and two steals. In her first game back from injury, point guard Jordin Canada had four assists and three rebounds, along with two points on 1-for-9 from the field. Off the bench, point guard Brittney Sykes had 14 points on 4-for-8 from the field (3–5 3pt, 3–4 FT) along with four rebounds and three assists on three turnovers and three fouls.

Las Vegas beat Dallas, 84–78. The Aces jumped out on a 7–3 run to open the match, but the wings were quick to steal the lead in the mid-first. At the start of the second quarter, however, Las Vegas charged ahead on a 10–2 run, giving themselves a multiple-possession advantage over Dallas which allowed them to maintain the lead until the game’s end. Despite this, the Wings came close to overtaking the Aces multiple times, but clutch baskets, consistency from the free throw line, and keeping turnovers to a minimum was enough to keep Dallas at bay. Overall, Las Vegas out-shot Dallas from the field by 22%, but Dallas attempted an astronomical 42 three pointers to sink just 11, four more than Las Vegas’ 7-for-28. Only the 2007 Phoenix Mercury have attempted more threes in a single game, per HerHoopStats.

Acrobatics from Gray and some classic Aces fast-pace play to keep their distance from the Wings early in the second quarter.

Aces point guard Kelsey Plum led all scorers with a season-high 32 points on 10-for-19 from the field (4–11 3pt, 8–8 FT), which she paired with four rebounds, five assists, and two steals on four fouls. Center A’ja Wilson and forward Dearica Hamby combined for 20 points on 9-for-23 from the field, along with 15 rebounds. Hamby also notched a season-high five assists on zero turnovers, and Wilson was in foul trouble throughout the game, fouling out with three minutes left to play. Point guard Chelsea Gray notched 18 points on 6-for-13 from the field (1–4 3pt, 5–6 FT), and secured four assists and a season-high five rebounds. Off the bench, center Kiah Stokes had a season-high six points on 2-for-4 from the field and a season-high seven rebounds on three fouls.

For Dallas, guard Allisha Gray had with a season-high 24 points on 9-for-15 from the field (4–8 3pt) and nine rebounds on two fouls. Not far behind her was guard Arike Ogunbowale, who had 21 points on 8-for-21 shooting (3–15 3pt) alongside three assists and a season-high seven rebounds. Power forward Satou Sabally had her second consecutive double double with 11 points on 3-for-12 from the field (1–7 3pt, 4–4 FT) and 10 rebounds on five fouls. Off the bench, point guard Tyasha Harris logged seven points on 3-for-9 from the field and five assists on three turnovers in her 18 minutes.

Connecticut beat Seattle, 93–86. The Storm jumped out ahead early and were able to expand their lead to multiple possessions throughout the first three quarters. By the late third, however, the Sun had cut what had once been a lead as large as 13 to just six. In the early minutes of the fourth, a set of clutch back-to-back three-pointers would bring the score to a tie, and not long after, another set of two three pointers propelled Connecticut into the lead. As the final minutes wound down, the Sun had expanded their lead without an answer from Seattle and closed the game for Connecticut’s ninth win of the season. Overall, the Sun out-shot the Storm by 14% from the field and attempted 17 more free throws to score 14 more points from the line. Connecticut also out-rebounded Seattle by 10.

Sun power forward Jonquel Jones led all scorers with 25 points on 10-for-17 from the field (1–5 3pt, 4–5 FT), along with eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Not far behind Jones, was center Brionna Jones, who had 21 points on 6-for-9 from the field (9–10 FT), eight rebounds and three assists. Power forward Alyssa Thomas secured a double double with 11 rebounds (three offensive) and 12 assists on four turnovers, along with eight points on 2-for-9 from the field (4–6 FT). That trio was the first in WNBA history to log at least eight points, eight rebounds, and four assists in the same game, per Across the Timeline. Off the bench, shooting guard DiJonai Carrington had 12 points on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field (2–2 3pt) along with three rebounds on three fouls in her 18 minutes.

The Sun pull ahead on a pair of clutch threes and a dish from Carrington to Jones underneath the basket.

For the Storm, center Ezi Magbegor returned from health and safety protocols to lead her team in scoring with 19 points on 8-for-13 from the field (1–1 3pt, 2–4 FT), which she did while grabbing seven rebounds and logging three assists, two steals, and three blocks. Magbegor would foul out in the final minute of play. Guards Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd combined for 13 assists and 33 points on 14-for-28 from the field, with Bird sinking five of 11 three-point attempts. Power forward Breanna Stewart had 12 points on 4-for-12 from the field, along with three rebounds and three assists.

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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