August 1, 2022
Daily Briefing — Aug. 1, 2022: Chicago Sky narrowly defeat Connecticut Sun in overtime nail-biter
Plus: the four other games that happened yesterday and new WNBA records.
Happy Monday! Can you believe it’s August already? Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the NCAA Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 73 of the WNBA season came and went, with a fast-paced slate of five games full of jaw-dropping moments and career- and season-highs abound. From the Chicago Sky eking out a win over the Sun in overtime to Sabrina Ionescu smashing records once again, Sunday was a jam-packed day in the WNBA. Don’t worry if you couldn’t get to every game, that’s what we’re here for. In the meantime, enjoy the day off from worrying about where your team will end up in the standings, and get ready for the second-to-last week of the regular season!
But first, read…
- Our Jacqueline LeBlanc investigates the Connecticut Sun’s strategy and areas for improvement as they looked to finally pull out a win over the Chicago Sky. The two teams will meet for a final time this regular season on Aug. 7.
- For The Athletic, Charlotte Carroll takes a look at the rebounding potential of the Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu and how it separates her from other guards in the league.
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Out of the portal
- Bree Calhoun: The point guard out of Seattle committed to Mississippi. Averaging 12.9 points, 4.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game, Calhoun was the WAC’s sixth woman of the year, second team All-WAC and WAC All-Defensive.
Watch List, Monday, Aug. 1
Sunday, July 31 recap
Chicago (23–7) beat Connecticut (20–10), 95–92 in overtime. The Sky jumped out ahead, mounting a double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter. By the mid-second, Chicago had pulled ahead by 16, but Connecticut managed a 17–0 run, most of which came off of offensive rebounds and in transition off Chicago turnovers, to bring the game within one possession. From there, the teams traded baskets, neither able to pull away significantly. It appeared the Sky would be able to lose out the game when, with a one-point lead, Sky off-ball guard Rebekah Gardner was fouled on a last-second shot attempt. But, after Chicago Sky head coach James Wade received a technical foul for stepping out of the coach’s box (the frivolousness of the call was debated almost immediately), Gardner’s free throws gave the Sky just a two point advantage, instead of three. In the final seconds of regulation time, Sun combo guard Courtney Williams sank a game-tying jumper and sent the game to overtime.
Heading into overtime, the Sun quickly built a six-point lead, but with just two minutes remaining, the Sky charged ahead, going 9–0 run away with the win. Overall, the Chicago Sky shot 12.3 percentage points better from the field and 9.0 percentage points better from three than the Sun. Connecticut grabbed nine more rebounds and 15 more offensive rebounds than Chicago. The Sun also managed 17 more second chance points, but logged six more fouls than the Sky.
Wing Kahleah Copper led the Sky and all scorers with 27 points on 12-for-19 shooting (3–4 FT), while also logging five rebounds and two assists. Big Azurá Stevens started in place of Candace Parker, who remains out with non-COVID illness. Stevens contributed a double double of 12 points on 5-for-9 from the field (2–4 3pt) and 10 rebounds, as well as three blocks. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot also notched a double double, with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting (6–6 FT) and 12 assists, as well as eight rebounds and two steals against four turnovers. Vandersloot became the first player in WNBA history to log that statline or better, per Across the Timeline. Gardner came off the bench for Chicago to record eight points on 3-for-4 shooting (2–2 FT), two rebounds, and three steals on three fouls and three turnovers.
For the Sun, big wing DeWanna Bonner led with a season-high 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting (1–5 3pt, 4–4 FT), nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Williams had 16 points on 7-for-20 shooting (2–3 3pt), eight rebounds (two offensive) and four assists. Big wing Alyssa Thomas notched 22 points on 9-for-15 from the field (4–6 FT), seven rebounds (four offensive), eight assists, and five steals against four turnovers. With that, Thomas becomes the first player in WNBA history to log five consecutive games with at least 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists, per Across the Timeline.
New York (11–18) beat Phoenix (13–17), 89–69. The Liberty jumped ahead early and never looked back, quickly mounting a multiple-possession lead. By the mid-second quarter, however, Phoenix had managed a 9–2 run to tie the game at 23 apiece. New York responded in similar fashion, going on a 7–2 run to grab back the lead. Coming out of halftime, the Liberty had shifted into full gear: opening up a 14-point lead, New York would keep their distance from Phoenix for the remainder of play, eventually expanding to a 20-point advantage. Fortunately for the Liberty, it was enough to let them walk away with a much-needed win. Overall, New York shot 11.8 percentage points better from the field and 22.2 percentage points better from three than Phoenix. The Liberty also out-rebounded the Mercury by 16, while Phoenix logged six more blocks.
Big Natasha Howard led the Liberty and all scorers with a double double of 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting (1–1 3pt, 2–3 FT) and a season-high 12 rebounds (three offensive), as well as a career-high six assists against six turnovers. Howard joins teammate Sabrina Ionescu as the second player to log that statline or better this year, per Across the Timeline. Guards Rebecca Allen and Crystal Dangerfield combined for 34 points on 13-for-20 from the field (7–10 3pt) and nine rebounds. Dangerfield also contributed five assists. Combo guard Sabrina Ionescu logged a career-high 16 assists, shattering the Liberty franchise record, which Teresa Weatherspoon originally set in 1998. Ionescu also tied for second in WNBA history for assists in a single-game, per Across the Timeline. Ionescu also logged 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting (1–6 3pt, 3–3 FT), eight rebounds, and two steals.
Off-ball guard Sophie Cunningham led the Mercury with 21 points on 7-for-16 shooting (3–9 3pt, 3–3 FT), while also logging two rebounds and a career-high two blocks. On her way to a double double, combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith had 13 points on 4-for-18 from the field (1–6 3pt, 4–4 FT) and a season-high 11 assists, as well as four rebounds and two blocks. Diggins-Smith became fourth player in WNBA history to record that statline or better, per Across the Timeline. Point guard Shey Peddy had a double double with 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting and a career-high 12 rebounds (three offensive), as well as three assists. The Phoenix bench contributed just one rebound, two assists, and three steals in 29 minutes played, the first set of reserves to contribute as much or less since 2006, per Across the Timeline.
Las Vegas (22–8) beat Indiana (5–27), 94–69. The Aces lept out ahead and by halftime had built a 12-point lead as the Fever struggled to keep up. By the end of the third, the Las Vegas lead had ballooned to 23, and the Aces’ bench began to make some appearances. The largest lead was a startling 39 points in the mid-fourth quarter. In the end, despite keeping within single-digits for most of the first half, the Fever weren’t able to dig themselves out of the hole they dug in the third quarter. Overall, the Aces shot 19.7 percentage points better from the field than the Fever and assisted on thirteen more baskets. Las Vegas also managed 50 points in the paint to Indiana’s 22.
Point guard Kelsey Plum led Las Vegas and all scorers with 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting (3–4 3pt, 5–6 FT) and three rebounds against four turnovers. Center A’ja Wilson had 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting (3–3 FT), five rebounds, four assists, and two steals on four fouls. Wing Jackie Young notched 13 points on 5-for-15 from the field (1–2 3pt, 2–2 FT) and seven rebounds (two offensive). Off the bench for Las Vegas, big Theresa Plaisance had a season-high 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting (1–2 3pt) and two rebounds, while center Kiah Stokes had six points on 2-for-3 shooting (2–2 FT) and a season-high ten rebounds (three offensive).
For the Fever, big NaLyssa Smith logged a double double with 18 points on 5-for-11 shooting (2–4 3pt, 6–6 FT) and 13 rebounds (seven offensive). With that eighth double-double, Smith has tied for fifth in Fever history for double-doubles in a single season, per Across the Timeline. Point guard Destanni Henderson notched 16 points on 6-for-14 from the field (4–5 FT), two rebounds, and four assists against four turnovers off the bench for Indiana. Combo forward Emily Engstler had five points on 1-for-2 shooting (3–4 FT) and six rebounds (two offensive).
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Washington (19–12) beat Seattle (19–12), 78–75. The two teams traded baskets throught the mid-first, when the Mystics took a 9–2 run to turn the tides in their favor. Heading into the second quarter, however, the Storm battled back, going on a 10–2 run of their own to bring the game back within one possession. The teams continued to pass the lead back and forth through halftime, until the late-third when, similarly to how they had in the first, the Mystics took a 7–1 run to move out ahead of the Storm. This time, however, Washington was able to hold their advantage, even as Seattle cut the lead to just three under two minutes left. Overall, the Mystics out-rebounded the Storm by eight, most of which came on the offensive glass. Washington managed 14 more points in the paint, while Seattle had eight more fast break points.
Off-ball guard Ariel Atkins led Washington with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting (4–9 3pt, 3–3 FT), three rebounds, and two assists on four fouls. Big Elena Delle Donne notched 17 points on 7-for-13 from the field (3–3 FT) and six rebounds. Per The Next’s Jenn Hatfield, Delle Donne’s “huge challenge” of playing back-to-back games was a resounding success. Mystics head coach Mike Thibault plans for Delle Donne to be on the court on Tuesday when Washington faces Las Vegas.
Point guard Natasha Cloud logged a double-double with 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting (1–1 3pt, 2–2 FT) and 10 assists, along with four rebounds on four turnovers. With this fourth points-assists double-double, Cloud has the Mystics franchise record for most in a single season, per Across the Timeline. Center Shakira Austin contributed nine points on 3-for-4 shooting (3–4 FT), nine rebounds (two offensive) and two assists.
For Seattle, big wing Breanna Stewart led with 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting (3–4 3pt, 2–4 FT), five rebounds, and three assists. Combo guard Jewell Loyd logged 15 points on 4-for-13 from the field (1–6 3pt, 6–6 FT), four rebounds, three assists, and a season-high four steals. Point guard Sue Bird had 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting (2–6 3pt, 2–2 FT), three rebounds and seven assists.
Minnesota (12–19) beat Los Angeles (12–17), 84–77. The teams passed the lead back and forth until the mid-first, when the Lynx took an 11–2 run to gain a significant advantage. Despite Los Angeles tying up the score with less than two minutes left in the first, Minnesota was able to hold onto the momentum, and fought back to close the first half with a nine-point lead. From there, the Lynx would maintain their lead, always staying a couple baskets ahead of the Sparks. Los Angeles was never able to make a comeback, and the Lynx ran away with a vital win as they continue the hunt for a coveted playoff spot. Overall, Minnesota shot 18.3 percentage points better from the field and 30.4 percentage points better from three than Los Angeles. The Lynx out-rebounded the Sparks by nine, but had thirteen more turnovers.
Point guard Moriah Jefferson led the Lynx with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting (2–4 3pt, 2–4 FT) and four assists. Center Sylvia Fowles logged 16 points on a near-perfect 8-for-9 shooting, nine rebounds (two offensive) and three assists. Fowles became the twelfth player in WNBA history, and the first this season, to log that statline or better while shooting at a clip of 85% or better, per Across the Timeline. Off-ball guard Kayla McBride had 15 points on 3-for-5 shooting (2–2 3pt, 7–7 FT) and four rebounds. Off-ball guard Aerial Powers notched eight points on 2-for-7 shooting (4–4 FT), three rebounds, four assists, and three steals against four turnovers.
Big Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks and all scorers with 23 points on 9-for-18 shooting (2–5 3pt, 3–3 FT), five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Off-ball guard Brittney Sykes had 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting (1–5 3pt, 4–4 FT), three rebounds, four assists, and three steals. In 18 minutes off the bench for Los Angeles, point guard Chennedy Carter logged 10 points on 4-for-10 from the field (2–2 FT), three rebounds and two assists.
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. She also covers women's sports for The Daily Princetonian, the independent student newspaper of Princeton University.