May 29, 2022 

Daily Briefing — May 29, 2022: Aces topple Sky and here comes the Sun!

Wins for top teams across the league and double-doubles abound.

Happy Sunday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 21 of the WNBA season is upon us, and what could be better than a slate of three games to help celebrate? Yesterday, the Las Vegas Aces posted their eighth win of the season in a match-up with the Chicago Sky that saw double-doubles from center A’ja Wilson and forward Candace Parker. Then, the Connecticut Sun beat out the Mystics in a back-and-forth tussle for the top spot in the east.

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Details also emerged regarding Liz Cambage‘s sudden departure from the Opals, the Australian national team, just before the 2021 Olympics, and the altercation between Cambage and members of the Nigerian national team at a closed-door practice match. Video from the match and further details about what happened can be found here. Please be aware that the video and article include descriptions of racist language.

But first read…

  • Our Tony East takes you through the making of a new era of Indiana Fever basketball in a behind-the-scenes look at interim head coach Carlos Knox’s first game, and first win.
  • Our Jenn Hatfield gives you the run down on the Washington Mystics, who to watch out for, and their path to title contention, with a season-high seven photos from our own Domenic Allegra.
  • For, Matt Logue reveals the stunning details of Liz Cambage’s departure from the Opals, which came out of a recently published investigation by the Sunday Telegraph.
  • Tania Ganguli and Jonathan Abrams outline recent changes to the media strategy of the effort to bring Brittney Griner home for The New York Times.

W Roundup

  • Seattle: Signed small forward Kaela Davis to a hardship contract.

Watch List

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

Mercury @ Dream, 12 p.m. ET CBS Sports Network (Editor’s note: publication delays mean this is being sent out after the Dream beat the Mercury 82-54. We’ll have a breakdown of that game tomorrow.)

Liberty @ Storm, 6 p.m. ET (Local: Fox 13+/Amazon Prime Seattle, YES, NBA TV Canada)

Sparks @ Lynx, 7 p.m. ET Amazon Prime video (Local: Bally Sports North, Spectrum Sportsnet)

Saturday, May 28 recap

Las Vegas beat Chicago, 83–76. The Aces established a one-possession lead early on in the first, and kept Chicago at bay until the final minute, when back-to-back plays from forward Candace Parker pushed the Sky ahead by one. Las Vegas was quick to regain the lead and then some, with the Sky trailing by as much as 18 in the mid-third quarter. An 11-2 Chicago run in the final two minutes of the third looked to turn the tides for the Sky, but the Las Vegas defense was stifling as the Sky struggled to get shots to fall, especially from beyond the arc, where they missed 18 consecutive three-pointers and shot just 16.1% as a team. Notably, despite out-shooting Chicago from three by 24%, the Aces also faltered from beyond the arc, sinking just 4-for-20 altogether. As the seconds wound down, the Sky were able to cut the Aces lead to four after a three-point shooting foul sent shooting guard Allie Quigley to the free throw line, but consistent execution in the half-court ensured the eighth Aces victory of the season.

Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces and all scorers with 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting (6–9 FT) and matched her career-high in rebounds with 16 (4 offensive) for her fifth double-double of the season. Point guard Chelsea Gray wasn’t far behind, as she notched 18 points on 6-for-12 from the field (1–3 3pt, 5–6 FT), including two critical back-to-back baskets deep in the third that swung the momentum back in favor of Las Vegas. Gray also made six assists on just one turnover. Point guard Jackie Young had a quiet scoring night, with just 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting (1–3 3pt), but logged a season-high six assists and grabbed seven rebounds (4 offensive, career-high).

Point guard Chelsea Gray brings the momentum back to the Aces with acrobatic layups in back-to-back possessions.

For Chicago, point guard Courtney Vandersloot and small forward Kahleah Copper combined for 24 points on 10-for-24 shooting (3–9 3pt). Vandersloot also grabbed a season-high 9 rebounds and logged 3 assists, two steals, and two blocks on two turnovers. Power forward Candace Parker had a busy night as she notched a double-double, her first of the season. Parker had 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting (1–8 3pt) and 11 rebounds (3 offensive), along with three assists and three blocks on three turnovers and four fouls. Power forward Azura Stevens came off the bench to notch seven points on 3-for-9 from the field and a season-high 10 rebounds, which she paired with two blocks.

Connecticut beat Washington, 79–71. The top two teams in the east met at Mohegan Sun for their first match of the season, each coming off blowout wins and eager to post another. Accordingly, the lead bounced back and forth throughout the match, no one team pulling ahead significantly until the late fourth-quarter, when the Sun made a 12–3 run to come away with the win. The Sun out-shot the Mystics by 23% from the field, and were dominant on the boards, out-rebounding Washington by 22. Despite being out-sized by the Sun, the Mystics were formidable on defense, snagging 11 steals to Connecticut’s five and forcing 23 Sun turnovers, including five shot clock violations.

Sun forward Alyssa Thomas had her second double-double of the season, logging 14 points on 6-for-13 from the field and 10 rebounds (2 offensive). Thomas’ six assists often came at critical junctures for the Sun, many times going cross-court off a defensive rebound or steal to find Connecticut guards in place for a quick bucket (though she also logged seven turnovers.) Guard-forward DeWanna Bonner also had 14 points, hers coming on 4-for-10 from the field (3–7 3pt). Bonner also snagged a season-high seven rebounds and a season-high two blocks. Point guard Courtney Williams also had, you guessed it, 14 points, hers on 6-for-12 from the field (1–1 3pt), alongside a season-high seven assists on two turnovers.

Two dimes from forward Alyssa Thomas, the first in transition to power forward Brionna Jones, the second in the half-court to point guard Courtney Williams.

For Washington, guard-forward Kennedy Burke had 13 points on 5-for-12 from the field (3–6 3pt) and three steals, while shooting guard Ariel Atkins also logged 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting (1–7 3pt) and two steals. Point guards Natasha Cloud and Rui Machida had just eight points between them on 3-for-11 from the field, but made eleven assists for the bulk of the Mystics half-court offense. Center Elizabeth Williams logged 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting and two blocks in her 25 minutes off the bench.

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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