The WNBA Rewind: Week ending July 1

A recap of select WNBA games for the week ending July 1, 2018.

Curious about the captions? Check out the WNBA Rewind playlist on Spotify. 

Disclaimer: All stats are taken from the official WNBA site. Rankings and opinions are solely those of this author. Don't @ me.

Stealing Shine

The Connecticut Sun visited the Washington Mystics on June 26. The Sun were without Alyssa Thomas again, for the fifth straight game. Connecticut, looking to capitalize (hah!) on their recent win against the Indiana Fever, went on a 13-0 run in first half of the 1st quarter. The Mystics weren’t going out like that and returned the favor with a 9-2 run to close the gap, but the Sun was still up (HA!) up 46-43 at halftime. Washington stormed out of halftime thanks to Latoya Sanders (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) and took the lead early in the 3rd quarter.

They went on to win  92-80. Elena Delle Donne had 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists for Washington. Kristi Tolliver chipped in 14 points, 1 rebound, and 8 assists while rookie Ariel Atkins added 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Only three Connecticut players reached double digits: Chiney Ogwumike (17 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists), Jasmine Thomas (13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) and Morgan Tuck (11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist). Shekinna Stricklen was held to 5 points, which bolsters my theory about her low scoring vs. the Sun losing.

Put A Ring On It

Prior to tipoff against her former team, the Seattle Storm’s Natasha 's Howard (6 points, 3 rebounds) got her championship ring from her time last season with the Minnesota Lynx. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (12 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist) was added to the starting lineup. The Lynx were seeking their fifth straight win and were up 25-14 at the end of the 1st quarter. Seattle put up some fight, but the Lynx were still ahead 43-34 at the half. Rebekkah Brunson (9 points, a career-high 9 rebounds, 6 assists) remains an unsung hero for Minnesota and is the all-time leader in offensive rebounds. Seattle shot a dismal 33% and was outrebounded by the Lynx.

Minnesota continued to lead, 79-55, heading into the 4th quarter. Seattle’s Breanna Stewart (27 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists) did her best, but it wasn’t enough; Sue Bird was held to 9 points, though she had 3 rebounds and 9 assists. It was a night for career and season highs in the Target Center as Maya Moore scored 32 points to go with her 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Sylvia Fowles pulled down a season-high 17 rebounds to go with her 28 points and 2 assists. The Lynx defeated the Storm, 91-79, for the 16th consecutive time in Minnesota. That 91 points was the Lynx’s season high. Rookie Jordin Canada (13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) was the only other Storm player in double digits.

Back For More

The Dallas Wings and the Los Angeles Sparks had a rematch, with the Sparks looking to redeem themselves from the triple-digit smackdown the Wings gave them a few days prior in Dallas. This time, the game was in the City of Angels.  Nneka Ogwumike was out for the Sparks due to back spasms and Jantel Lavender (2 points, 3 rebounds) started in her place. The Wings dominated from the tip as rookie Azurá Stevens (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) got the first bucket of the game in the first 15 seconds and scored 5 points in the first 1:30. The Sparks started slowly but got on track despite early fouls, including a technical foul on head coach Brian Agler. The Wings were up 21-18 at the end of the 1st quarter. Los Angeles came into the 2nd quarter with more energy but Dallas outscored them on offensive rebounds and second-chance points (23 vs. the Sparks’  2). Dallas went up 46-42 at the half.

The game was tied 46-46 early the in the 3rd quarter. Los Angeles guard and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Alana Beard (6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals) picked up her third foul in the 3rd quarter. Agler received a second technical foul and was ejected 6:49 in the 3rd. Riquna Williams (12 points, 2 rebounds, 4 3-pointers) stepped up for the Sparks, but the Wings got to the free-throw line 32 times by the end of the quarter and went up 68-64 over the Sparks. There were 11 lead changes and seven-game ties as the game headed into the 4th quarter, where things changed. Candace Parker (career-high 29 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists) and Chelsea Gray (23 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, ) were essential in Ogwumike's absence. Rookie Maria Vadeeva (6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks) also contributed. Los Angeles got the revenge win, 87-83. Liz Cambage (25 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block), Kayla Thornton (16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals), and Skylar Diggins-Smith (12 points, 1 rebound, 5 assists, 1 steal) were also in double digits for Dallas.

Kiss the Sky

The Atlanta Dream, still without All-Star starter Tiffany Hayes due to an ankle injury, sprinted out of the gate to an early lead vs. the Chicago Sky. [sidebar: Sky head coach Amber Stocks' new haircut is fabulous]. Cheyenne Parker (8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) tweaked her back with a few minutes left in the 1st quarter and Atlanta was up 21-24 at the end of the 1st. Rookie Diamond DeShields hustled a lot; she defended Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry (6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) and held her to low scoring. Shoutout to Sky commentator Lisa Byington for pronouncing center Astou NDour's (12 points, 8 rebounds) name the way she prefers, which is "Stoo Doo" (per Senegalese pronunciation). #CulturalRelevance The Sky held McCoughtry scoreless in the 2nd quarter but the Dream also held rookie Gabby Williams (who leads leagues in steals and had 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block) scoreless in the 2nd as well. The Dream was up 38-30 at the half.

Shoutout to Parker for admitting her menstrual cycle had affected her game a bit. #Biology Chicago came out strong to begin the 3rd quarter and tied the game 48-48 in the middle of the 3rd. The Sky got hot late in the 3rd and took the lead, 64-59, to start the 4th. Chicago kept the lead and DeShields (23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) was fouled by McCoughtry, who scored most of her points from the free throw line. DeShields went down hard 6:04 and came up hobbling; she made her free throws then went out of the game Chicago lead 77-70; a second technical foul on Atlanta ballooned the lead to 90-76 with 2:16 left in the game. Atlanta’s Blake Dietrick came off the bench and had 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists,  and 1 steal in 22 minutes of play. The Sky won, 93-80, for their second straight win; 63 of the team’s points came in the second half. Allie Quigley (22 points, 5 assists, 1 steal) and Stefanie Dolson (13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks) were also in double digits for Chicago. Mccoughtry moved to 10th place in all-time steals. Renee Montgomery (19 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal), Elizabeth Williams (13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks) and Layshia Clarendon (13 points, 3 assists) were in double digits for Atlanta.

It’s Not Fair

The Connecticut Sun had just gotten back from a 4-game road trip and were on the second game of a back-to-back when they hosted the Indiana Fever. The Sun was once again without. Alyssa Thomas, who was still out with a shoulder injury. Connecticut won their previous two games against the Fever; Indiana, of course, was hoping that three times was the charm. The Sun’s Shekinna Stricklen (12 points, 1 rebound) got hot early with two 3-pointers (she had four total for the game); Jonquel Jones (21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) added five three-pointers in the entire game, which was a career high. Indiana rookie Victoria Vivians (25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 5 3-pointers) picked up two early fouls in the 1st quarter. Connecticut was up 30-14 at the end of the 1st and kept cruising; they were up 52-36 at halftime.

The Fever never led; the Sun’s free throws (18/21) and another double-digit game from Courtney Williams (13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) pretty much put the game to bed early in the 3rd quarter. Indiana went on a 14-0 run to cut their 24-pt deficit late in the 3rd but the Sun was still up 76-64 to begin the 4th quarter. Indiana’s Natalie Achonwa fouled out 1:33 left in the game and was held to only 2 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.  Connecticut won 101-89. Chiney Ogwumike (21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks) and Jasmine Thomas (21 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal) were also in double digits for the Sun. Kelsey Mitchell (15 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 steals) and Candice Dupree (14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) were also in double digits for Indiana.

Wait A Minute

The New YorkLiberty/Washington Mystics game started 30 minutes late due to shot clock issues on both baskets. New York's Epiphanny Prince (21 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) was once again back in starting lineup. There was no Marissa Coleman for NY, who was still out due to a shoulder injury. Rookie Ariel Atkins was in the league's concussion protocol; Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (12 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists) started the game in her place. Prince hit a basket in the first 15 seconds of the game to put New York on the board. Kia Vaughn (16 points, 6 rebounds) was very aggressive on rebounds, and the Liberty was strong overall to open the game. Tina Charles (18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) got into early foul trouble (2 in the 1st quarter), thanks to the defense of Washington's LaToya Sanders (8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists. The Mystics were up 23-22 at the end of the 1st.

Taylor Hill (3 points, 1 assist) returned for Mystics after sitting out since the beginning of the season. She helped Washington lead the game, 44-39 behind stellar scoring from Kristi Toliver (10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist) and Walker-Kimbrough. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt's (9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) savvy moves and quick fouls by the Liberty's Amanda Zahui B (2 points, 1 rebound) had the Mystics up 65-57 to start the 4th quarter. The game was tied 75-75 with 39 seconds left in the 4th. New York's Shavonte Zellous (4 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists) fouled out with 17.4 seconds left in the quarter. A bucket by Sanders put the Mystics up 77-75, then free throws by Charles tied the game 77-77 with 7 seconds left. A deflection on Toliver and a questionable possession ruling by the referees allowed Washington to have the ball with 0.5 seconds left. Elena Delle Donne (22 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks) shot a 3-point stunner to win the game 80-77. 

Sweeping Through the City

Nneka Ogwumike sat out for the Los Angeles Sparks for the second game, with back spasms; Jantel Lavender (10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks) again started in her place. The Seattle Storm came our hot, causing Sparks coach Brian Agler to call a full timeout less than 2 minutes into the game. The Sparks had 4 turnovers halfway through the 1st quarter; Seattle scored 10 points off those turnovers. Riquna Williams (8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist) shot 2/6 from 3-point range for the Sparks. Seattle was up 26-18 at the end of the 1st and opened up a 15-pt lead in the 2nd quarter but the Sparks whittled the lead down to 8 points. Candace Parker (27 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block) picked up a technical foul late in the 2nd quarter, then picked up a charging foul. The Storm was up 41-35 at the half.

Natasha Howard (14 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal) was called for her 4th foul late in the 3rd. The Sparks trailed by 2 points to begin the 4th quarter and came back to tie the game 61-61. Seattle went on a 9-3 run to take a 70-64 lead with 4:32 left. Turnovers and fouls really hurt Los Angeles, especially in the 4th quarter. The Storm won 81-72 and swept the season series between these two teams.  The Sparks haven't won in Seattle since 2014. Chelsea Gray had 12 points 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals for Los Angeles. Jewell Loyd (13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals) and Sue Bird (10 points, 2 rebounds, 11 assists) were also in double digits for Seattle.

It’s Magic

The Los Angeles Sparks, coming off a loss to the Seattle Storm, visited Sin City to take on the fledgling Las Vegas Aces. The Sparks were still without Nneka Ogwumike. There was a switch in the Las Vegas starting lineup, with Tamera Young (11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) and Kelsey Bone (1 assist, 1 steal)  getting the nods in place of Nia Coffey (4 points, 1 rebound) and rookie Ji-Su Park (2 points, 2 rebounds). Los Angeles scored 4 points in less than a minute of the game., but the Aces went on 12-2 run to take a 1-point late in the 1st quarter, and they were up 18-15 at the end of the 1st. Dearica Hamby (13 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block) was a lovely surprise; she made three trips to the free throw line in the 1st quarter alone. Las Vegas was up 44-37 at halftime and shot 50%. There were no points from the Sparks bench in the first half.

 5 points by the Aces in the first 30 seconds of the 3rd quarter had Los Angeles calling a timeout. An 11-3 run had Las Vegas up 55-41. Los Angeles’ Jantel Lavender (7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block) picked up her 4th foul late in the 3rd. The Sparks cut the lead to 9 points with 50 seconds left in the 3rd quarter and scored a season-high 12 three-pointers in the game.. The Aces were up 73-62 to start the 4th quarter. Despite 12 unforced turnovers for the Aces, they got the lead up to 12 points, 80-68, with 6:08 left in the game. They went on to win (!) 94-78. A’Ja Wilson (29 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals ), Kelsey Plum (14 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 3-pointers), and Kayla McBride (12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) were also in double digits for Las Vegas. Chelsea Gray (22 points, 1 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 3-pointers), Essence Carson (17 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks) and rookie Maria Vadeeva (10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block) were in double digits for Los Angeles.

Purring Along

The Minnesota Lynx/Dallas Wings matchup was physical from tip-off. Liz Cambage (14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block) was injured in the eye during the first 2 minutes of the game; she went out but returned midway through the 1st quarter. The teams traded baskets for most of the quarter but Dallas pulled ahead to end the 1st quarter 18-16.  Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve got a technical foul for coming out onto the court to protest a no-call. The game was tied 27-27 at 4:41 in the 2nd quarter. Minnesota finally took the lead, 32-27, 2:44 in the 2nd quarter. Dallas had the fewest points in the 1st half this season; the Lynx led 40-33 going into halftime.

A tightly contested battle had Minnesota coming out on top, 76-72, for their seventh straight win behind the always magnificent Maya Moore (26 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks). Sylvia Fowles (14 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 1 block) and Seimone Augustus (13 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists 2 steals, 2 blocks) were also in double digits for Minnesota. Skylar Diggins-Smith (16 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, 1 block), Allisha Gray (15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists), and Kayla Thornton (11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal) were the leading scorers for Dallas.

Two Teams Enter, One Team Leaves

The New York Liberty visited the Chicago Sky for a revenge match from their June 29 loss, and it was a very good, very close game. The Sky made sure to press their defense, getting the Liberty’s Tina Charles (28 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal), Amanda Zahui B (2 points, 1 steal) and Kia Vaughn (12 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists) in foul trouble. Both teams were fairly equal on rebounding ann turnovers, though New York converted more points on turnovers made by Chicago. The Liberty returned the foul trouble favor, with the Sky racking up a collective 32 personal fouls; and Allie Quigley (28 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists) were next in the foul queue with five and four fouls, respectively. A key 3-point shot from Shavonte Zellous (12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) , her first of the game, brought New York within 2 points, 49-51, 8:33 in the 3rd quarter. Charles was fouled by Stefanie Dolson (10 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block); she made one free throw to bring the score to 50-51 at 8:09 in the 3rd quarter. Things got very chippy as Chicago took a 67-63 lead to begin the 4th quarter. Epiphanny Prince 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists) gave New York the lead at 2:39 in the 4th with two free throws; Chicago's Cheyenne Parker (13 points, 4 rebounds) fouled out. The game was tied 82-82 with 1:48 left in the game; Charles tied the game with two free throws, 84-84, to send the game into overtime. New York won in overtime, 97-94, to snap a five-game losing streak. Courtney Vandersloot (20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block), rookie Diamond DeShields (12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists) were also in double digits. Rookie Gabby Williams (2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block) was held scoreless the entire game. Brittney Boyd (14 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block) were also in double digits for New York.

Rookie Watch

Rook of the Week

Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky). DeShields has been playing extremely well since she's been wearing protective goggles as a result of an eye injury last week (seriously, Oakley, you should think about an endorsement deal. DeShields makes goggles look stylish). 

Rook of the Weak

Gabby Williams (Chicago Sky). Williams has been mostly quiet this week, with only one double-digit game (a Chicago win against the New York Liberty on June 29) and one scoreless game (the rematch with the Liberty on July 1). She will be needed, as the Sky play the Dallas Wings, Las Vegas Aces, and Minnesota Lynx in the upcoming week.

Rookie of the Year

  1. A’Ja Wilson (LV)
  2. Gabby Williams (CHI)
  3. Kelsey Mitchell (IND)
  4. Diamond DeShields (CHI)
  5. Kia Nurse (NY)

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Brittney Griner (PHX)
  2. Sylvia Fowles (MIN)
  3. Liz Cambage (DAL)
  4. Natasha Howard (SEA)
  5. Amanda Zahui B (NY)

6th Woman of the Year

  1. Kayla Thornton (DAL)
  2. Danielle Robinson (MIN)
  3. Brittney Sykes (ATL)
  4. Courtney Paris (SEA)
  5. Amanda Zahui B (NY)

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