September 5, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Sept. 5, 2022: Gray, Wilson lead Las Vegas Aces to Game 3 overtime victory

Sorting through the USA Basketball evolving roster

Happy Monday, and for everyone in the U.S., happy Labor Day! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup and Yesterday’s Recap. On Sunday night, the WNBA semifinals resume with as much drama and thrill as you could expect. First, in Connecticut, the Sky and Sun met for a wire-to-wire bruiser, which has slowly become expected for this series. So far, there have been eight playoff games this year where 30+ fouls have been logged. Connecticut and Chicago have featured in three and four of those games, respectively, with two of those games coming from this series. Here, the Sky toughed it out and pulled away with a win. Hilariously, however, two more games in the 30+ foul category have also come from the Seattle–Las Vegas series, which also resumed on Sunday. In a high-scoring overtime nailbiter, where nearly every starters’ minutes went well over 30, with four going over 40 minutes, the Las Vegas Aces were able to out-score the Storm 18–6 in the final five minutes to take the series advantage.

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In other news, USA Basketball announced today that Elena Delle Donne, Allisha Gray, Myisha Hines-Allen and Arike Ogunbowale would no longer be attending training camp for the FIBA World Cup team. The camp will begin on Sept. 6, though players currently involved in the WNBA playoffs will arrive at a later date.

But first, read:

  • Our Tony East unpacks the Indiana Fever’s decision to part ways with former head coach Carlos Knox, and the many potential paths forward.
  • Our James Kay picks apart the Sky’s playbook for beating the Sky, and how they can emerge from the semifinals victorious. (I’ll also plug the latest episode of James’ excellent podcast, The Skyhook, where you can find his and co-host Chris Pennant’s reactions to Game 3)
  • Our Em Adler rounds up how our staff at The Next voted for Defensive Player of the Year, and who made our All-Defensive teams.

W Roundup

Seattle: Wing Gabby Williams returned to the court Sunday afternoon after missing the first two semifinal matches with a concussion.

Las Vegas: Combo forward Dearica Hamby returned to the court Sunday afternoon. Hamby had been recovering from a right knee injury she suffered on Aug. 9.

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Sunday, Sept. 4, recap — Semifinals, Game 3

Chicago beat Connecticut, 76–72, to take a 2–1 series lead. The teams traded baskets through the first quarter, with the Sun taking a slight advantage on a buzzer-beater three from big wing DeWanna Bonner. The scenario was similar come halftime, though instead the Sky had taken a two-point lead. The momentum began to shift in the opening minutes of the third quarter, as the Sky jumped into a 7–2 run, but the Sun clawed their way back, eventually cutting the lead to one. Chicago’s resilience shone through, as they managed to keep a couple points ahead of Connecticut through the final minutes. Overall, the Sun shot 17.7 percentage points better from three than the Sky, and out-rebounded Chicago by nine. The Sky grabbed eight more steals, contributing to the Sun’s 17 turnovers, and kept Connecticut to just four fast break points.

For Chicago, big Candace Parker led with a double-double of 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting (1–6 3pt., 5–6 FT) and 11 rebounds, along with four assists, two steals and three blocks. Big Emma Meesseman notched 13 points on 6-for-12 from the field (1–2 3pt.), three rebounds, six assists and five steals on four fouls. Wing Kahleah Copper had 15 points on 4-for-12 shooting (1–3 3pt., 6–6 FT) and five rebounds. In 15 minutes off the bench, big Azurá Stevens contributed six points on 2-for-5 from the field (1–3 3pt.), three rebounds and two assists on four fouls.

Bonner led the Sun and all scorers with a double-double of 18 points on 4-for-14 shooting (8–9 FT) and 11 rebounds (three offensive), along with four assists and three steals. Big wing Alyssa Thomas notched six points on 3-for-12 shooting, 13 rebounds (three offensive) and seven assists on four fouls. Point guard Natisha Hiedeman had 14 points on 5-for-9 from the field (2–4 3pt.) and two assists. Center Brionna Jones contributed 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting (4–5 FT), three rebounds (two offensive) and two blocks on three fouls.

Las Vegas beat Seattle, 110–98 in overtime, to take a 2–1 series lead. The Aces opened the match on a 6–0 run, eventually leading the Storm by as much as 11. Las Vegas maintained their lead through halftime, but a 14–2 Seattle run put the Storm up by two by the late third. The teams went basket-for-basket through the fourth quarter, with the score sitting at 92 apiece by the final second. Heading into overtime, the teams continued to trade baskets, until halfway through, when the Aces would out-score the Storm 13–2, with point guard Chelsea Gray scoring eight of those points, to close out the win. Overall, the Aces out-rebounded the Storm by 15 and grabbed three more steals. Las Vegas also out-scored Seattle in the paint by 10.

Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces and all scorers with a double-double of 34 points on 14-for-20 shooting (6–6 FT) and 11 rebounds (three offensive), along with three steals. Point guard Chelsea Gray had a double-double of 29 points on 12-for-21 shooting (5–9 3pt.) and 12 assists, along with five rebounds. Point guard Kelsey Plum notched 16 points on 6-for-19 shooting (1–8 3pt., 3–4 FT), seven rebounds and seven assists. Off-ball guard Riquna Williams contributed 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting (4–8 3pt.), five rebounds and three assists for the Aces.

For Seattle, big Breanna Stewart led with a double-double of 20 points on 9-for-19 shooting (2–4 FT) and 15 rebounds (two offensive), alongside six assists. Center Tina Charles notched 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting (1–4 3pt., 3–6 FT), five rebounds and four assists. Point guard Sue Bird logged 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting (5–9 3pt.) and eight assists. Off the bench, big Stephanie Talbot contributed 12 points on 4-for-7 from the field (3–4 3pt.), four rebounds and two assists.

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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