May 15, 2022
Daily Briefing — May 15, 2022: Alyssa Thomas shines on home court and “How old is Diana Taurasi?”
Career-highs around the league, and Alyssa Thomas puts on a show in return to Mohegan Sun.
Happy Sunday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W and NCAA Roundups, the daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Today’s edition of TDB comes to you from a slightly different voice, though Em and I are similar enough that I doubt you’ll notice. Last night brought out the WNBA’s oldest and brightest for the second installment of a home-and-home series between the Seattle Storm and the Phoenix Mercury. Google searches for “How old is Diana Taurasi?” surged, so those of you 39-plus-year-olds should be on your toes. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, the Sun reminded the Sparks that you can’t win a professional basketball game with 21 total rebounds. And finally, in Minnesota, Courtney Vandersloot logged her first double-double of the season, and the Lynx come up short, but this time with hopeful undertones.
- Phoenix: Extended forward Brianna Turner.
- New York: Exercised a fourth-year team option on Sabrina Ionescu. Make your way here to learn more about rookie-scale contracts! Yippee!
- Connecticut: Activated forward-guard DeWanna Bonner, who arrived from overseas. No targeted return date has been announced.
Out of the Portal:
- Destiny Littleton: The guard out of South Carolina will head to the University of Southern California. She has aspirations in medicine, so this move seems apt.
- Katlyn Gilbert: The point guard out of Notre Dame will head to Missouri. She dealt with a shoulder injury last season and only played five games.
(All times in Eastern, Game of the Day in bold)
Dallas @ New York, 2 p.m. (Local: YES, Bally Sports Southwest)
Atlanta @ Indiana, 3 p.m. Amazon Prime video (Local: Indiana Fever Livestream, Bally Sports Southeast)
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Saturday, May 14 recap
Phoenix beat Seattle (again), 69-64. Unlike Wednesday’s 20-point blowout, however, Saturday’s rematch was hotly contested as both teams passed single-digit leads for the full 40 minutes. Phoenix out-shot Seattle by 11.7% from three and out-rebounded Seattle on the defensive end, 35-25. Despite Seattle’s efforts, Phoenix’s execution out of key late-game timeouts secured them the win and the home-and-home series sweep.
For Phoenix, guard Diana Taurasi made herself at home from behind the arc, sinking 6-of-12 threes including a step-back dagger to put the Mercury up 67-61 with a minute left to play. Taurasi also led the Mercury squad in scoring, logging 24 points on 8-for-16 from the field. Brianna Turner held down the boards for the Mercury as she snagged 14 rebounds (four offensive), which she paired with three assists and three steals on zero turnovers and one foul. In her 37 minutes, point-guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was a go-to on Mercury fastbreaks. Diggins-Smith had 14 points on 6-for-20 from the field (2-9 3pt.), along with five assists and three rebounds (one offensive) on four turnovers and one technical foul.
Ezi Magbegor established a dominant defensive presence for the Storm, as she coupled a career-high seven blocks with two steals and 10 rebounds, all while logging just one foul. Magbegor’s 6’4 frame made the feat look easy, including the three blocks she managed on Diggins-Smith.
Guard Jewell Loyd led Seattle and all scorers with 26 points on 8-for-23 from the field (5-11 3pt.), while also logging five rebounds (one offensive), three assists, and two steals on two turnovers and three fouls. Guard Sue Bird only managed two points on 1-for-11 from the field (0-8 3pt.) but contributed three assists, one steal, one block, and one jump-ball against fellow senior citizen Taurasi.
Connecticut beat Los Angeles, 77-60. The Sun were quick to show the Sparks where the real sun shines, as they prevented a single L.A. point until halfway through the first quarter. This trend would continue: as the Sparks struggled on the boards, grabbing just 21 rebounds (eight offensive) to the Sun’s 45 (19 offensive), Connecticut made quick work of their defensive stops and second-chance shots. The Sun never gave up the lead for the entirety of the match, and outscored the Sparks in all but one quarter despite logging 20 turnovers and 23 fouls (which the Sparks matched.)
Forward Alyssa Thomas made her long-awaited return to homecourt for the Sun and did it in impressive fashion; she notched 23 points on 10-for-17 from the field (3-5 FT), along with 11 rebounds (four offensive), five assists, and one steal, on four turnovers and two fouls. Thomas’ return from a major Achilles injury overseas was the subject of “The Comeback,” a documentary produced by the WNBA which has yet to be released to the public. Forward Jonquel Jones had 16 points on 6-for-11 from the field (3-4 FT, 1-4 3pt.), but found herself with four fouls at the end of the third quarter. Nevertheless, Jones was able to round out her night with 12 rebounds (five offensive), two assists, two steals, and one block.
For the Sparks, forward Nneka Ogwumike and point-guard Jordin Canada pulled together the bulk of the L.A. offense, as they combined for 24 points on 9-for-17 from the field (5-6 FT, 1-4 3pt.). Ogwumike added five steals, one short of her career high, but also logged four turnovers and committed four fouls. Center Liz Cambage added an extra 10 points to the L.A. score, but did so alongside three turnovers and four fouls in just 20 minutes. At their brightest, L.A. was able to force Connecticut to play a fast-paced, full-court game where their guards, and Canada especially, excelled. Their dullest, however, came in the half-court, where Connecticut remains dominant.
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Chicago beat Minnesota, 82-78. Both squads started off confident on the Target Center floor — what remained of the Lynx roster quickly fell in stride with their new point-guard in Moriah Jefferson, while back-to-back three-pointers from center Emma Meesseman spaced the floor early for Chicago. Yet, the Sky quickly took control of the game and never let go, despite being outscored by the Lynx in the second half. While Chicago logged nine steals and remained consistent at the free-throw line, coming out 90% from the line on 18-for-20, turnovers and defensive breakdowns down the stretch plagued the Lynx, who only went 14-for-23 from the line as a team.
For Chicago, point-guard Courtney Vandersloot was well in control of the offense, as she notched 11 assists alongside 16 points for her first double-double of the season on just one turnover. Frequent beneficiaries of Vandersloot’s assists included forward Candace Parker, who had 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting (3-3 FT, 0-3 3pt.), guard Rebekah Gardner, who notched 10 points on 3-for-9 from the field (3-4 FT, 1-4 3pt.), and Meesseman, who logged 17 points on 5-for-11 from the field (4-4 FT, 3-6 3pt.). Meesseman’s activity wasn’t limited to the offensive end, however, as she logged a massive career-high 7 steals on two turnovers, alongside seven rebounds (two offensive) and one block, though she would foul out with under two minutes remaining to play.
This newest incarnation of the Minnesota Lynx was powered by Jefferson and center Sylvia Fowles, who combined for 32 points on 12-for-16 from the field (5-9 FT, 3-3 3pt.) Despite having joined the team just one day prior to Saturday’s tip-off, Jefferson was already pushing a more fluid, fast-paced half-court Lynx offense, logging five assists and just one turnover in the process. Fowles continued to dominate the post for Minnesota, taking in 11 rebounds (two offensive) and one block, with all 16 of her points coming from inside the painted area. Nina Milic, who joined the Lynx just one week ago, lead all scorers with 18 points as she came off the bench for Minnesota.
Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally.