June 8, 2022 

Daily Briefing — June 8, 2022: LIGHTNING PROTOCOLS — Healthy Seattle Storm wrap home stand with win over Atlanta

Ionescu shines in New York's victory against Minnesota

Happy Wednesday! Your friendly neighbor here reminding you to take time for yourself as we head into the second half of the week. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W and NCAA Roundups, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 28 of the WNBA season is here, and Sparks head coach Derek Fisher is not. Last night, the league returned to a manageable slate of two games, as Sabrina Ionescu pulled out all the stops for the Liberty in a classic win over the Lynx. Over in Seattle, the Storm called game against the Atlanta Dream in the last match of their eight-game home stand. As the Seattle Storm roster rebounds from players in and out of health and safety protocols, the win may bring a brighter forecast for the remainder of their season.

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In addition, protests took place during Minnesota’s visit to New York, as pro-choice advocates came onto the court holding signs in support of abortion rights. “I wasn’t sure what was going on,” Ionescu commented after the game. “But good for them, I guess. If it solves something, I’m all for it.”

But first read…

  • Our Tony East covers the disappointed, yet hopeful atmosphere in Indiana as the Fever find themselves at the bottom of the league once again, and digs into the insights and roster moves that may help them mount a comeback.
  • For NBC Sports, Nick Zaccardi explores the impact of the first athletic scholarship granted in the Title IX era, the Gertrude Dudley Scholarship established at the University of Chicago in 1972.
  • I have you covered on the Sparks’ decision to fire head coach/GM Derek Fisher, and how this move fits into the organization’s broader plan to revive support for women’s basketball in LA.

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W Roundup

  • Los Angeles: Fired head coach and general manager Derek Fisher. A search for the next general manager will begin immediately. Sparks assistant Fred Williams will serve as interim head coach and will join the Auburn University women’s basketball team as associate head coach in the fall.
  • Los Angeles: Waived off-ball guard Amy Atwell.
  • Indiana: Waived center Alaina Coates.

NCAA Roundup

Transfer portal

Out of the portal

  • Treasure Hunt: The forward out of Kentucky transferred to Arizona State.

Watch List, Wednesday, June 8

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

Indiana @ Connecticut, 7 p.m., League Pass (Local: NESN+, Indiana Fever Livestream, NBA TV Canada)

Chicago @ Washington, 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: NBC Sports Washington/Monumental, CW 26)

Tuesday, June 7 recap

New York beat Minnesota, 88–69. The two teams battled to get ahead throughout the first quarter, the lead swapping sides four times before back-to-back baskets from Liberty center Han Xu propelled New York ahead. From that point, the Lynx were stuck in a game of cat and mouse, every few minutes coming within one possession of the Liberty, only to find themselves down a dozen a minute later. New York made nine more three pointers than Minnesota on 11 more attempts, and out-scored the Lynx from the field by 41%. Put simply, the Liberty shot from three at a clip and consistency that allowed them to pull ahead with nearly three-pointers alone.

A pair of secured dishes to Xu gave the Liberty the boost they needed to take over against the Lynx.

Liberty point-guard Sabrina Ionescu led New York and all scorers with 26 points on 10-for-11 from the field (4–4 3pt, 2–2 FT), alongside eight rebounds and a season-high eight assists on two turnovers. Ionescu is just the 14th player to record this stat line or better, and the only one to do so with a field efficiency of 90% or greater, per HerHoopStats. Liberty center Han Xu had a career-high 15 points on 6-for-12 from the field (3–3 FT), which she paired with five rebounds in her 25 minutes off the bench. Power forward Natasha Howard had 11 points on 5-for-11 from the field, as well as four rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

Off-ball guard Kayla McBride led the Lynx with 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting (2–5 3pt, 1–2 FT), alongside four rebounds on three fouls. Forward Jessica Shepard had nine points on 2-for-8 from the field (5–5 FT), seven rebounds and two assists on two fouls. Off the bench, center Nikolina Milic had eight points on 2-for-6 from the field (4–6 FT), three rebounds and a season-high two steals in her 16 minutes.

Seattle beat Atlanta, 72–60. The Storm pulled ahead early, but by the mid-second the Dream were within one possession of the lead. The two teams battled to get ahead, the lead changing hands four times before the Storm were able to mount a significant advantage. In the mid-third quarter, three sets of made free throws gave Seattle the upper hand, and a clutch three pointer from power forward Breanna Stewart sealed the deal as Atlanta struggled to respond. Overall, the Seattle Storm sank six more shots from behind the arc on eight more attempts and logged seven more blocks (the vast majority of which came from center Ezi Magbegor). To their credit, the Dream kept pace with the Storm, shooting at a similar clip from the field, out-rebounding the Storm by six, and securing five more steals.

Storm combo guard Jewell Loyd led Seattle and all scorers with 26 points on 8-for-17 from the field (2–7 3pt, 8–9 FT), alongside four rebounds, three assists and a season-high three steals on four turnovers and two fouls. Power forward Breanna Stewart had 19 points on 5-for-15 from the field (3–7 3pt, 6–6 FT), seven rebounds and two assists. Center Ezi Magbegor logged 12 points on 5-for-6 from the field (2–2 3pt), as well as seven rebounds, two assists and five blocks on three turnovers.

For the Dream, center Cheyenne Parker had a busy game as she logged her third double double of the season, with 10 points on 5-for-12 from the field (3–4 FT) and 10 rebounds (four offensive). Parker also logged three assists and a season-high three steals on just one foul. Off-ball guard Kristy Wallace had 12 points on 5-for-12 from the field (2–5 3pt), three rebounds and four assists, but fouled out in the final two minutes of play. In just 19 minutes off the bench, power forward Monique Billings was efficient, logging a season-high 11 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal on three fouls and two turnovers.

A pair of transition buckets and a strong defensive set from the Dream, though it wasn’t enough to overtake Seattle.

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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