The WNBA Rewind: Week ending June 24

A summary of select WNBA games for the week ending June 24, 2018.

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

DISCLAIMER: All stats are taken from the official WNBA site. Opinions and rankings are solely those of this writer. Don’t @ me.

Missing You

The Atlanta Dream hosted the New York Liberty on June 19. The Dream was without injured All-Star starter Tiffany Hayes and bench spark Brittney Sykes (who should be considered for Sixth Woman of the Year), which really hurt them as they missed floor spacing (Hayes) and defensive energy (Sykes).  Dream franchise player Angel McCoughtry dropped 39 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, but it wasn’t enough; no one else on the team really stepped up to help her (Renee Montgomery was the only other player in double digits with 12 points; Jessica Breland had 9 rebounds and Elizabeth Williams had 8).

The Liberty won, 79-72, behind the wonderful Tina Charles (29 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists), Shavonte Zellous (13 points, 3 rebounds), rookie Kia Nurse (11 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), and Kia Vaughn (4 points, 9 rebounds).

Sharing is Caring

The Minnesota Lynx visited the Dallas Wings on June 19. The Lynx were looking to build on their win over the New York Liberty on June 16, as that was the first step in stopping this champion franchise’s skid this season. Things escalated rather quickly, as Minnesota got to the free throw line 20 times in the 1st quarter and converted 18 of those trips into as many points. They also had 17 points off free throw attempts in the 3rd quarter. The Lynx wisely cut off the head of the snake, as Dallas franchise player and point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was held to only 2 points on 0/3 shooting in the 1st half. Reigning league MVP Sylvia Fowle had her 8th double-double of the season, along with 5 steals.

The Lynx had a team-high 23 assists and a season-high 26/31 free throws. Danielle Robinson (another 6th Woman of the Year candidate) started strong off the bench with 11 points. Dallas never lead and were down by 22 points but went on a 33-6 run to bring the game to 77-83 with 1:22 left in the 4th quarter. It was just too much for the Wings as the Lynx won, 91-83. Shoutout to Minnesota’s head coach since 2009, Cheryl Reeve, who capped her 200th win.

Ante Up

The Seattle Storm visited the Las Vegas Aces on June 19. With the painful memory of the spanking that Seattle gave them on May 27, the Aces came out hot. Rookie A’ja Wilson (25 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists) had 9 points and 5 rebounds in the first 4 minutes. Kayla McBride chipped in 17 points. Seattle struggled, shooting only 11% in the first 6 minutes; not surprising, considering starters Sue Bird and Alysha Clark were out. This game also saw the return of the Storm’s Crystal Langhorne, who has sat out since the beginning of the season with an injury. The Aces kept their defense strong, putting Seattle’s Breanna Stewart (27 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists) into early foul trouble with 2 fouls in the 1st quarter.

The Storm rallied, thanks to free throws, and was up by 1 point, 39-38, at halftime. Seattle was down 15 points but came back on a 9-1 run to bring them within 6 points at the end of 1st. The third quarter saw 11 lead changes and a tie game, 64-64. at the end of the 3rd. Seattle rookie Jordin Canada (8 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists) picked up her fourth foul in the 4th quarter. Las Vegas continued to outrebound the Storm (47 rebounds to Seattle’s 30) and kept Natasha Howard (9 points, 8 rebounds) relatively quiet. The Aces’ savvy veteran Tamera Young (17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) made a major difference in the 4th quarter as Vegas went on a 17-4 run to open up a 13-pt lead with 3:41.  Wilson & fellow rookie Ji-Su Park (6 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks) combined for 26 rebounds and the Aces made 24 trips to the charity stripe. Las Vegas won (!),  89-77.

Fear the ‘Fro

The Connecticut Sun/Atlanta Dream rematch took place on June 22 as the Sun once again visited the “A”. The Sun was looking to avenge its June 5 loss to Atlanta.  Tiffany Hayes (Dream) and Alyssa Thomas (Sun) were both out with injuries. Brittney Sykes (13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal) returned to the Dream lineup after sitting with an ankle injury and was crucial to team energy. It was a strip show of sorts, as both sides earned lots of points off steals.  Connecticut’s Chiney Ogwumike got into early foul trouble with 2 in the 1st half, but her team rallied as the Sun took a 37-27 lead into halftime. The third quarter saw key players for each team pick up crucial fouls as the Sun’s Jonquel Jones (4 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) and Atlanta’s Renee Montgomery (9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist,  2 steals) both picked up their fourth fouls.

The Dream was 27/41 from the free throw line, compared to Connecticut’s 16/23, thanks to the defensive help of Elizabeth Williams (4 points, 10 rebounds, Layshia Clarendon (5 rebounds, 2 assists), and Jessica Breland (3 points, 4 blocks) which helped Atlanta cut a 12-pt deficit to within 4 points (56-51) to start the fourth quarter.  As usual, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry (25mpoints, 8 rebounds, 2 assists) did her thing with the help of Damiris Dantas (11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal) and Sykes and the Dream went on a 20-0 run to take a 62-56 lead. Rookie Monique Billings (7 points, 4 rebounds) was a pleasant surprise, making clutch plays off the bench and managing to foul out Jones with just under 6 minutes left in the game.  Connecticut rallied and pulled within 3 points, but missed baskets and a costly foul gave Atlanta the win, 75-70.

Skid Row

The Washington Mystics as they visited the Chicago Sky on June 22. Stefanie Dolson (13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal) was a much-welcomed return to the Sky lineup with limited minutes off the bench due to injury. Chicago started out rather discombobulated; they had two turnovers in less than 1 min into the 1st quarter and 12 turnovers by halftime. The Mystics put on the Elena Delle Donne (30 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 2 3-pointers) and Kristi Toliver (13 points, 5 assists, 1 steal, 3 three-pointers) Show -- much to the chagrin of Chicago head coach Amber Stocks, who picked up a technical foul for jawing at the referees. Chicago switched up its defense in the second quarter and had key chip-ins by Dolson. Rookie Gabby Williams (12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) was sensational with her defense.

Washington was up 64-39 at halftime behind 9 team three-pointers and never looked back. Chicago outscored the Mystics by 14 points in the 3rd quarter and held Delle Donne and Toliver scoreless; rookie Diamond DeShields (5 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) also got into foul trouble with her third foul. The Sky cut a 25-pt deficit to 11 points to begin the 4th quarter, 76-65 and pulled within 6 points at 5:38 in 4th. Washington held on to win, 93-77, handing Chicago its 6th straight loss.

Talking All That Jazz

The number 1 team in the league, the Los Angeles Sparks, visited the Dallas Wings on June 22. The Sparks came out strong and led with a score of 10-9 6 minutes into the game; Dallas hit two buckets to take the lead and never looked back.  The Wings were up 52-64 at half in what proved to be a very physical and emotional match; the Sparks’ Cappie Pondexter (9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist) took constant issue with the Wings’ Kaela Davis’s (3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal) style of play and was not shy about letting her know. They both had to be separated several times by their respective team members, though Pondexter seemed to be doing most of the instigating.

The Wings had their highest-scoring 3rd quarter this season, shooting 48% beyond the arc. Surprisingly, the Sparks were unable to get it together and key plays from Dallas’ Ariel Powers (16 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block) rookie Azura Stevens (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) and Kayla Thornton (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; she should be a candidate for 6th Woman of the Year and in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation), plus the usual stellar play of Liz Cambage (20 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (6 points, 3 rebounds, 11 assists, 1 steal), gave the Wings the home win smackdown, 101-72. Nneka Ogwumike (17 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), Candace Parker (9 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal) and Chelsea Gray (9 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists) led for the Sparks.

Our House

The New York Liberty arrived in Sin City fresh off a win against the Atlanta Dream. New York’s Shavonte Zellous was out with an illness; Sugar Rodgers (10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal) started in her place. Zellous’s absence was keenly felt as the Liberty couldn’t get much traction in this low-scoring game against the Las Vegas Aces. The Aces and Liberty were tied 15-15 after the 1st quarter and were up 34-26 at the half.  New York’s Tina Charles (14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal) scored her 5000th career point (5th fastest in league history) with a 3-point bucket at 3:55 in the 3rd quarter. The Liberty’s Amanda Zahui B (14 points, 3 rebounds, and should be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation) and rookie Kia Nurse (13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist) hustled and got clutch buckets, which greatly helped Charles and got New York as close as 1 point, but it was not enough. Las Vegas’ Kelsey Plum fouled out with 1:19 left in the game. The Aces won 88-78. Kayla McBride (27 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals) A’Ja Wilson (20 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks) and Dearica Hamby (16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals) led the Aces.

I Against I

The rematch between the Minnesota Lynx and the Phoenix Mercury happened on Friday, June 22. Minnesota came out swinging and was up 25-13 at the end of the 1st quarter, and up 46-30 at halftime. Phoenix’s defense limited Sylvia Fowles’(11 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals2 blocks) scoring and got her into early foul trouble; she had 3 fouls by halftime. Phoenix’s Briann January (10 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal) was also in foul trouble when she picked up her third early in the 3rd quarter. Minnesota managed to limit Brittney Griner's (18 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks) availability.

Congratulations to the Mercury’s Sancho Lyttle (3 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, who rose to 10th on the WNBA’s career rebounding list. Phoenix bounced back from 21-point deficit to pull within 9 points with 6:16 left in 4th quarter. The last two minutes of the game was very intense as Minnesota prevailed, 83-72. This game saw 23 (!) personal fouls called against the Lynx, who scored 20 points off 16 Phoenix turnovers; the Mercury only scored 5 points off Minnesota’s 11 turnovers. Maya Moore (23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal), Lindsay Whalen (15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 steals) and Seimone Augustus (14 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 steals) joined Fowles in double digits for the Lynx. Diana Taurasi (23 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals) was the only other Mercury player in double digits.

Broken Wings

The Seattle Storm visited the Dallas Wings on June 24. This was Sue Bird’s (10 points, 2 rebounds, 10 assists) second game back in the starting lineup for Seattle, after sitting for rest.  Dallas was riding the wave of a hard-fought and surprising win against the Los Angeles Sparks. Alysha Clark was still out with an ankle injury. Dallas struggled but went on a 7-0 run in the 2nd quarter to close their deficit to 49-42 at halftime. Dallas went on another run to rally but Seattle still led by 4 points, 68-64, to begin the 4th quarter. The Wings had a 4-0 run to tie the game early in 4th quarter, but Seattle returned the favor with a 22-0 run to put the game to bed and win, 97-76, behind Breanna Stewart’s 28 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Natasha Howard (13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal), Jewell Loyd (12 points,5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block), and Sami Whitcomb (12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block) joined Bird and Stewart with double-digit scoring.  

Redemption Song

The Chicago Sky hosted the Phoenix Mercury on June 24; Phoenix was trying to bounce back from a Friday loss to the Minnesota Lynx.  Rookie Diamond DeShields (16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal) wore protective goggles due to a lingering eye irritation from the previous game against the Washington Mystics (“Diamond Goggles” should be a thing; can we get a diamond-studded version, @Oakley? Maybe an endorsement deal for DeShields? Asking for a friend.). The Sky ramped up the intensity halfway through the 1st quarter and went up 7 points on the Mercury; they led 28-16 at the end of the 1st quarter despite Asta Ndour (3 points 1 rebound, 1 assist) picking up 4 fouls, and were up 47-43 at halftime. This game saw the rise of Sky rookie Alaina Coates (4 points, 2 rebounds); she looked so much more confident and aggressive against Phoenix’s Brittney Griner (19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks) like the player she was at South Carolina. Welcome back, Lay Lay! It also saw a magnificent game from Chicago’s Cheyenne Parker (13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 blocks). Phoenix was frustrated throughout the game; Diana Taurasi (18 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal) got a technical foul 3:23 into the 2nd quarter. Griner hit Chicago’s Stefanie Dolson in the face and got ejected late in the 3rd quarter with a Flagrant 2 foul. Chicago won 94-82 and snapped a 6-game losing streak. This is the second game the Mercury has lost in a row. Allie Quigley (20 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 three-pointers), Courtney Vandersloot (14 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals, 2 three-pointers), Gabby Williams (12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 three-pointer), and Stefanie Dolson (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks) were the scoring leaders for Chicago. DeWanna Bonner (16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, Sancho Lyttle (11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) and Briann January (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) were the other Mercury players in double digits.

Big Girls Don’t Cry

The Minnesota Lynx visited the Las Vegas Aces for the first time this season on June 24. Lynx opened up a 9-0 run in the 1st quarter. The Aces settled down and a timely 3-pointer by Kelsey Plum (15 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists) and a bucket by Kayla McBride (18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists ) got Las Vegas back into the game. Still, it was clear that rookie A’Ja Wilson (10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist) is at the top of every team’s scouting report; the Lynx’s Rebekkah Brunson (11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) took it to her hard from the opening tip and the fatigue that Wilson showed in the previous game against the New York Liberty continued to show.  Las Vegas had no answer (surprise, surprise) for Maya Moore (23 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) or Sylvia Fowles (20 points, 10 rebounds,2 steals, 3 blocks). Plum was the surprise of this game for Las Vegas; she came out more aggressive and composed than I’ve ever seen her this season. Fowles and the Aces’ Nia Coffey (3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block) got into early foul trouble with 2 fouls each. The Lynx were up 21-11 at the end of the 1st quarter; the Aces never led the entire game, though the bench chipped in 27 points. Fowles picked up her 3rd foul in the 2nd quarter and sat on the bench; Las Vegas took advantage and went on a bit of a run to cut the lead. The Lynx were up 39-33 at the half. Coffey picked up her 4th foul early in 3rd quarter and Minnesota went on 12-4 run to open up a 16-point lead, but the Aces cut it to an 8-point deficit thanks to Tamera Young (12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block), Dearica Hamby (9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals), and Plum with 2:39 in the 3rd.

Still, the Lynx went on another run to be up 71-53 to begin the 4th qtr. But turnovers. missed layups and porous defense doomed Las Vegas as “old” Minnesota won, 88-73. Seimone Augustus chipped in 11 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal for Minnesota.

Rookie Watch

Rook of the Week

Monique Billings (ATL). Color me impressed. I have been giving Billings the side eye for quite some time, but she came through in the Atlanta Dream’s gritty repeat win over the Connecticut Sun -- even though the team was still without All-Star starter Tiffany Hayes. This is why head coach Nicki Collen and general manager Chris Sienko make the medium bucks. I see you, MoBill!

Rook of the Weak

Myshia Hines-Allen (WAS). Where, o where, is MHA? Her hot beginning has cooled off considerably. Her minutes have been reduced and when she is in the game, she’s not impacting it as much as she used to. Hopefully, this is just a case of the “Rookie Wall” and she’ll scale it soon. The Mystics are still a team to beat, but they need all hands on deck if they hope to make a deeper playoff run this year.

Rookie of the Year

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

Defensive Player of the Year

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

6th Woman of the Year

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

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