September 16, 2022
Daily Briefing — Sept. 16, 2022: Oh wh-AT a night! Alyssa Thomas’ historic triple-double wills Connecticut to critical victory
Plus: All-WNBA teams unveiled
Happy Friday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing featuring Yesterday’s Recap. Day 14 of the WNBA post-season is behind us, as are any lingering hopes that the Aces would sweep the Finals series. Last night in Connecticut, the Sun put together a performance that was as historic as it was critical to keeping their championship hopes alive. Headlined by the first triple-double and book-ended by the third-largest margin of victory in WNBA Finals history, every aspect of the Sun’s style of play seemed to peak at the same time. Of everyone on the floor, no one was as steady and consistent on both ends of the court as Alyssa Thomas, who completed the aforementioned triple-double. And what a triple-double it was; just the third in WNBA post-season history, and is now the highest-scoring and rebounding in playoff history, while also posting the fewest turnovers. Among all triple-doubles, this most recent output from Thomas is tied for second in total rebounds. Not to mention, this was Thomas’ third career triple-double, all of which were accomplished all in a single season — a feat never accomplished in WNBA history.
Connecticut also discovered a way to slow Chelsea Gray’s offensive production, with DeWanna Bonner leading that defensive campaign, all while churning out an offense that was as efficient as the Sun have ever been. Their 32 assists became a team single-game franchise high for Connecticut, regular season or playoffs; it was also just one assist shy of tying the all-time WNBA Finals team assist record. Looking ahead to Game 4, the Aces will have some serious questions to answer in the half-court, while the Sun will look to repeat a performance that will be long remembered at Mohegan Sun for years to come.
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All-WNBA First, Second Teams
On Thursday evening, the WNBA announced the results of All-WNBA voting. The Next’s Howard Megdal broke down the details of voting totals, while The Next’s Em Adler outlined how our staff voted for the teams.
- A’ja Wilson (2nd First Team nod, 3rd All-WNBA nod)
- Breanna Stewart (4th, 5th)
- Kelsey Plum (1st, 1st)
- Skylar Diggins-Smith (4th, 5th)
- Candace Parker (7th, 10th)
- Alyssa Thomas (1st Second Team nod, 1st All-WNBA nod)
- Sabrina Ionescu (1st, 1st)
- Nneka Ogwumike (4th, 5th)
- Jonquel Jones (3rd, 4th)
- Sylvia Fowles (5th, 8th)
- Our Tony East takes you through the details of the Indiana Fever coaching search so far, and the managing philosophy of Lin Dunn.
- The Pick and Roll’s Hayley Wildes explores how the WNBL has fueled the Australian Opals to international success.
- For Sports Illustrated, Ben Pickman traces the history between head coaches Becky Hammon and Curt Miller all the way back to Colorado State.
Recap, Thursday, Sept. 15 — Finals
Connecticut beat Las Vegas, 105–76, to bring the series to 2–1. The Aces jumped out on a 9–2 run in the opening minutes, but my the mid-first the Sun had tied up the score at 15 apiece. Connecticut would follow that with a 19–2 run to close out the first quarter, building a double-digit lead they would maintain until the late third quarter. A deep three from Aces off-ball guard Riquna Williams cut the lead to six in the final minutes of the third quarter, but a last-second layup from Sun center Brionna Jones helped Connecticut keep their distance. Even as the Aces had momentum on their side heading into the fourth, the Sun came back into the game swinging. Holding Las Vegas to just seven points in the final 10 minutes, Connecticut had closed out the win long before the buzzer sounded.
Overall, the Sun shot 10.8 percentage points better from the field and 11 percentage points better from three than the Aces. Connecticut won the rebounding battle by 14 (including seven more offensive rebounds), and grabbed seven more steals, contributing to 16 Las Vegas turnovers. The Sun had their way down low, scoring 64 points in the paint, just two shy of their season high. Connecticut also had 14 more second chance points, while the Aces put down five more blocks.
Big Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting (1–1 3pt., 3–3 FT), five rebounds and four assists on four fouls. Big wing Alyssa Thomas notched a triple-double of 16 points on 8-for-14 shooting, 15 rebounds (three offensive) and 11 assists, along with two steals. Big wing DeWanna Bonner had 18 points on 8-for-15 from the field (2–6 3pt.), six rebounds (three offensive), five assists and two steals. Point guard Natisha Hiedeman logged 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting (3–3 3pt.), three rebounds and nine assists. In her 12 minutes off the bench, combo guard DiJonai Carrington contributed 12 points on 3-for-7 shooting (1–2 3pt., 5–5 FT) and two steals. Carrington becomes just the fifth player in WNBA post-season history, and the first since 2018, to score as much or more in less than 12 minutes played, per Across the Timeline.
Wing Jackie Young led the Aces and all scorers with 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting, two rebounds and two assists. Center A’ja Wilson notched 19 points on 8-for-14 from the field (3–5 FT), four rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks. Point guard Kelsey Plum contributed 17 points on 5-for-12 shooting (2–4 3pt., 5–5 FT), six rebounds and six assists. Point guard Chelsea Gray had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting (3–4 3pt.), two rebounds and seven assists against four turnovers.
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.