May 18, 2022 

Daily Briefing — May 18, 2022: Mercury poisoning

Minnesota gets on the board

Happy hump day! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 10 of the WNBA season is here, following a day of mostly expected results, but some unexpected drama. Atlanta and Connecticut and Washington beat up on teams that seem bound for the lottery — that was easy to predict. In a way, so was Las Vegas crushing Phoenix; the Mercury came into the game 2-1, but two of those wins came against a Seattle team missing Breanna Stewart and Epiphanny Prince (and Mercedes Russell), and one of those was effectively a one-possession win. Tina Charles and Skylar Diggins-Smith have shot poorly to start off, but Diana Taurasi and Shey Peddy and Sophie Cunningham should be playing well enough to offset that. Diamond DeShields currently ranks in the 19th percentile in true-shooting despite ranking sixth overall in the league in usage. Outside of Taurasi threes, the team has struggled at getting the shots it wants while forcing opponents into poor looks. And then this happened:

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After the game, head coach Vanessa Nygaard deflected attention towards the Brittney Griner detainment and avoided answering.

But first, read:

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W Roundup

Dallas: Activated big wing Satou Sabally

Las Vegas: Activated center Kiah Stokes

Los Angeles: Activated combo forward Katie Lou Samuelson

New York: Activated combo forward Rebecca Allen

Watch List, Wednesday, May 18

(All times in Eastern)

Seattle @ Chicago, 10 p.m., Facebook (Local: Amazon Prime video, Marquee)

Tuesday, May 17 recap

Connecticut beat New York, 92-65. The Liberty jumped out to a 10-2 lead, before the Sun went on a 27-5 run. Connecticut shot 46.7% from three and 25-for-28 at the line, while holding New York to 31.8% from deep; the Sun notched 16 steals, part of 29 Liberty turnovers; the teams combined for 43 fouls.

Big wing DeWanna Bonner led Connecticut 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting (1-2 3pt.), three assists, and four steals in her first game of the season; backup combo guard Natisha Hiedeman had 15 points on 5-for-9 form the field (2-4 3pt.), three rebounds, three assists, and three steals; backup center Brionna Jones scored 14 points on 5-for-7 FG with three rebounds against three turnovers and four fouls in 25 minutes; big Alyssa Thomas notched 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, six rebounds, three assists, four steals, and five turnovers.

New York was led by wing Betnijah Laney’s 16 points on 6-for-13 from the field and 4-for-8 from three and three assists against six turnovers and four fouls in 32 minutes; center Stefanie Dolson finally managed to not foul out, finishing with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting (1-1 3pt.) and seven rebounds against four turnovers and four fouls in 26 minutes; big Natasha Howard had eight points on 4-for-8 FG (0-1 3pt.), six rebounds (three offensive), two assists, and four steals against four turnovers.

Atlanta beat Indiana, 101-79. The Dream shot 16.4% better from the field and 25.5% better from three, while going 23-for-26 at the line; the Fever assisted on 22 of their 30 buckets; the teams combined for 48 fouls.

Big Cheyenne Parker led Atlanta with 17 points (15 in the first half) on 6-for-10 FG (1-2 3pt.), five assists, and two blocks in 21 minutes; wing Rhyne Howard scored 19 points on 7-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from three with five rebounds and no turnovers; combo guard Erica Wheeler had 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting (2-2 3pt.), three rebounds, and five assists against four fouls in 22 minutes; off-ball guard Kristy Wallace notched 15 points on 4-for-6 FG (3-4 3pt.) and three rebounds; backup big Naz Hillmon fouled out in 18 minutes, but finished with eight points (3-5 FG), five rebounds, and three assists.

Indiana was led by combo forward Victoria Vivians’ 16 points on 5-for-14 from the field and 1-for-6 from three, six rebounds, and three assists against two turnovers and four fouls; point guard Danielle Robinson had 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting (0-2 3pt.), three rebounds, and four assists; center Queen Egbo scored 12 points on 5-for-7 FG with five rebounds (three offensive) against two turnovers; combo forward Emily Engstler made the first start of her career, finishing with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting (1-4 3pt.), 10 rebounds (three offensive), and three assists against five fouls in 21 minutes.

Washington beat Dallas, 84-68. The Wings jumped out to a 19-6 lead, but the Mystics jumped ahead 10 minutes later; Washington won the third quarter 31-13. The Mystics shot 10.5% better from the field and 16.7% better from three; Washington won the rebounding battle by 10.

Center Shakira Austin led the Mystics with a career-high 20 points in 29 bench minutes on 9-for-11 FG, eight rebounds (four offensive), two assists, and two blocks; big Elena Delle Donne had 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting (1-4 3pt.), five rebounds, and two assists against five fouls in 26 minutes; point guard Natasha Cloud notched 10 points on 3-for-4 from three (0-4 from two), four rebounds, seven assists, and two steals; backups off-ball guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and combo forward Kennedy Burke — the latter making her season and Washington debut — combined for 21 points on 9-for-15 from the field, three rebounds, five steals, and no turnovers, with Walker-Kimbrough adding three assists.

Dallas was led by wing Marina Mabrey’s 16 points on 5-for-9 from the field and 3-for-6 from three, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals against four turnovers and four fouls in 26 minutes; big Isabelle Harrison scored 16 points on 6-for-10 FG with five rebounds; wing Allisha Gray had 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting (2-5 3pt.), six rebounds, and four assists against two turnovers; off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale struggled to six points on 3-for-12 from the field (0-3 3pt.).

TDB Dallas center minutes distribution watch: Isabelle Harrison 30; Teaira McCowan 9; Charli Collier 1.

Las Vegas beat Phoenix, 86-74. The Mercury led 24-12 after 7.5 minutes, and still led as late as the early third quarter; the Aces won the third 30-12. Phoenix committed 15 turnovers; the teams combined for 45 fouls.

Las Vegas was led by center A’ja Wilson’s 16 points on 4-for-8 from the field (0-1 3pt.) and 8-for-11 from the line and 10 rebounds for a  double-double, plus three assists and two blocks against four fouls in 34 minutes; wing Jackie Young had 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting (3-5 3pt.), four rebounds, two assists, and two steals; point guard Kelsey Plum scored 20 points on 7-for-16 from the field and 4-for-8 from three, with three assists against three turnovers; point guard Chelsea Gray notched 14 points on 5-for-12 FG (1-3 3pt.) and a season-high nine assists against three turnovers and four fouls in 33 minutes.

Center Tina Charles led the Mercury with 17 points on 8-for-16 FG (1-3 3pt.), nine rebounds, and two assists against three turnovers and four fouls in 36 minutes; combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith had 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting (1-4 3pt.), four rebounds, and six assists against four turnovers and five fouls in 31 minutes; backup point guard Shey Peddy scored 13 points on 5-for-8 from the field and 2-for-4 from three, plus four assists; combo guard Diana Taurasi and wing Diamond DeShields struggled to a combined 19 points on 5-for-17 from the field and 2-for-9 from three and four turnovers, with Taurasi adding four assists and DeShields five rebounds, two turnovers, and five fouls.

Minnesota beat Los Angeles, 87-84. The teams each held nearly double-digit leads in the first three quarters, before a back-and-forth fourth. The Lynx outshot the Sparks by 12.9% from three, while winning the rebounding battle by 14; the teams combined for 19 steals, part of 18 Minnesota turnovers; the teams combined for 41 fouls.

In her first game of the season, off-ball guard Kayla McBride led the Lynx with 24 points on 8-for-18 from the field and 4-for-7 from three, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals against three turnovers; center Sylvia Fowles recorded a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double on 8-for-10 FG with five offensive boards, two assists, two blocks, and three turnovers while fouling-out in 39 minutes; point guard Moriah Jefferson had 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting (1-2 3pt., 5-6 FT), seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals against six rebounds and four fouls in 36 minutes.

Los Angeles was led by big Nneka Ogwumike’s 22 points on 9-for-16 FG (0-1 3pt.), eight rebounds (three offensive), and three assists against four fouls in 35 minutes; center Liz Cambage had 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting (1-2 3pt.), seven rebounds, three assists, and three blocks against three turnovers and five fouls in 25 minutes; combo guard Lexie Brown notched 12 points on 4-for-6 from three (0-1 from two) and four assists without a turnover; combo forward Katie Lou Samuelson made her season and Sparks debut, and shot 3-for-5 from three.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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