August 4, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Aug. 4, 2022: New York Liberty overcome 20-point deficit to beat the Sparks

Ionescu: 'If I'm open, I'm gonna shoot it'

Happy Thursday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the NCAA Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 76 of the WNBA season is here following a roller-coaster ride of a Wednesday. From news that Paige Bueckers would miss the upcoming NCAA season, to the New York Liberty come-from-behind win over the Sparks, it seemed almost nothing was a guarantee. That is, until Breanna Stewart was peak Breanna Stewart in the Storm’s win over the Lynx, and the Fever found themselves down 30 points to the Dream in the early going of their match. Some things, it seems, have yet to change.

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But first read…

  • Our Gabriella Lewis walks you through yesterday’s news that UConn’s Paige Bueckers suffered an ACL injury and is projected to miss the upcoming NCAA season.
  • Our Tony East checks in with the Indiana Fever following their elimination from playoff contention and lays out the road ahead as they finish out their season.

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W Roundup

Connecticut: Released combo guard Kiana Williams from a seven-day contract. Signed point guard Odyssey Sims to her first 7-day contract with the team.

NCAA Roundup

  • Paige Bueckers: The UConn point guard sustained an ACL injury during a pick-up game on Monday and is projected to miss the 2022–23 NCAA season.

Watch List, Thursday, Aug. 4

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

Phoenix @ Connecticut, 7:00 p.m., ESPN2, SN

Las Vegas @ Dallas, 8:00 p.m., ESPN3 (Local: Bally Sports Southwest, MYLVTV)

Wednesday, Aug. 3 recap

New York (13–18) beat Los Angeles (12–19), 64–61. The Sparks took an early lead, mounting a double-digit advantage by the end of the first quarter. Well into the second quarter, Los Angeles had expanded their lead as New York struggled to get their score into double-digits. In the third quarter, however, the Liberty took a 13–2 run cut the Sparks’ lead to five points while holding the Sparks to just 11 points in the quarter. Los Angeles’ shooting struggles continued into the fourth quarter and New York took full advantage, going on a 7–0 run to pull within one possession.

As the teams traded baskets through the final minutes, Liberty combo guard Sabrina Ionescu grabbed a key steal and was fouled, heading to the free throw line to push New York ahead by one. Less than a minute later, Ionescu was fouled again, this time on a three-point shot. She sank two of the free throws, putting the Liberty up by three. However, on the next possession, Sparks point guard Jordin Canada was fouled and sank two free throws of her own to keep the Sparks within one point of the Liberty. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Ionescu nailed a foul-line jumpshot over two defenders in the final 30 seconds, giving New York a clear 3-point lead.

“I don’t even question myself there,” Ionescu told The Next‘s Howard Megdal following the game. “If I’m open, I’m gonna shoot it. It’s why you put in years and years of work, to be able to get to that position whether the ball goes in on a night like that or not. You play the percentages and an open shot is is a good shot.”

The Sparks couldn’t respond on their final attempt from deep and New York scrapped by with the win. Overall, the Sparks shot 8.5 percentage points better from the field than the Liberty and secured three more blocks while the Liberty out-rebounded the Sparks by five and had four more steals. New York had 14 second chance points to Los Angeles’ two.

Ionescu led the Liberty and all scorers with 20 points on 6-for-18 shooting (3–9 3pt, 5–7 FT), eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. Big Natasha Howard notched 12 points on 5-for-13 from the field (2–3 3pt), seven rebounds, three assists and two steals against four turnovers. Center Stefanie Dolson had seven points on 2-for-7 shooting (1–1 3pt) and eight rebounds (four offensive). Wing Marine Johannes came off the bench to contribute eight points on 3-for-6 shooting (2–5 3pt), four rebounds and three assists.

For the Sparks, big Nneka Ogwumike logged 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting (2–2 3pt), seven rebounds and two assists. Off-ball guard Brittney Sykes had 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting and five rebounds against eight turnovers and four fouls. Center Olivia Nelson-Ododa contributed eight points on 3-for-5 shooting, a season-high 10 rebounds (three offensive) and a season-high four blocks on four fouls.

Atlanta (12–18) beat Indiana (5–27), 91–81. Atlanta took the early lead and never looked back. The Dream quickly built a double-digit lead that became insurmountable with equal pace. Coming out of halftime, however, the Dream went cold from the field and the Fever took advantage, going on a 19–2 run to cut the lead to 13 and start to close the gap. By the early fourth, Atlanta’s once 30-point lead had been cut to just 10, but the Dream managed to keep their distance through the final minutes to secure the win. Overall, the Dream shot 11.1 percentage points better from the field than the Fever and logged four more blocks. Indiana grabbed five more offensive rebounds and had 18 second chance points to Atlanta’s 11.

For the Dream, wing Rhyne Howard had 20 points on 5-for-13 shooting (3–10 3pt, 7–8 FT), five rebounds, four assists, a season-high five steals and two blocks on four fouls. Big Cheyenne Parker logged 17 points on 8-for-13 from the field and four rebounds on four fouls. Combo guard Kristy Wallace had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting (2–3 3pt), two rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes on the court. Off the bench for Atlanta, point guard Aari McDonald logged 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting (1–4 3pt, 2–2 FT), five rebounds and six assists, while off-ball guard Maya Caldwell notched 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting (2–5 3pt), a season-high seven rebounds and a season-high six assists. Caldwell is just the fifth player and second reserve in WNBA history to log that statline or better in less than 23 minutes on the court, per Across the Timeline.

Big NaLyssa Smith led the Fever and all scorers with 21 points on 5-for-14 shooting (2–5 3pt, 9–11 FT), five rebounds and two steals. Off the bench for Indiana, big Emma Cannon logged a season-high 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting (1–2 3pt, 3–4 FT), a season-high eight rebounds and a season-high three steals on four fouls. Off-ball guard Lexie Hull had a season-high 14 points on 4-for-9 from the field (1–2 3pt, 5–7 FT), a season-high seven rebounds and four steals on four turnovers and five fouls.

Seattle (20–12) beat Minnesota (12–20), 89–77. Seattle opened the first quarter on a 12–0 run, pushing into a double-digit advantage before Minnesota had made its first bucket. That initial lead would give the Storm a significant cushion through the final minutes as the Lynx struggled to respond. Seattle shot 16.7 percentage points better from three than Minnesota and grabbed four more steals. The Lynx allowed 30 Storm fast break points, logging just eight of their own.

Big wing Breanna Stewart led the Storm and all scorers with a season-high 33 points on 13-for-20 shooting (4–8 3pt, 3–4 FT), eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Stewart is just the seventh player in WNBA history to log that statline or better, per Across the Timeline. Off-ball guard Gabby Williams had 13 points on 6-for-9 from the field (1–3 3pt), six rebounds, four assists and three steals against three turnovers. Point guard Sue Bird notched 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting (3–5 3pt), a season-high four rebounds and six assists. Combo guard Jewell Loyd logged 17 points on 6-for-14 from the field (2–3 3pt, 3–3 FT) and five assists.

For Minnesota, center Nikolina Milic led with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting and six rebounds (three offensive) in her 15 minutes off the bench for the Lynx. Center Sylvia Fowles logged 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting, six rebounds and two blocks. Big wing Natalie Achonwa had five points on 2-for-4 from the field, five rebounds and a career-high six assists in her 18 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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