Season 26 opening weekend did not disappoint, with rookies and returning veterans alike displaying high-quality, fast-paced basketball.
While fans may have gone into this WNBA opening weekend supporting their favorite team, it was hard not to root for other teams throughout the weekend too. From pregame outfits to major blocks, ankle snatching crossovers and overtime action, this weekend gave us everything we were hoping for and then some. The new and improved Los Angeles Sparks dominated the 2021 Champions, the Chicago Sky, in a 98–91 OT win, with rookies Destinee Henderson and Rhyne Howard making sure their presence was felt on the court by putting up double digits in points with over 20 minutes of playing time.
Opening Night Matchups
Washington Mystics vs. Indiana Fever
Mystics overwhelm the Fever with an 84–70 win.
Mystics power forward Elena Delle Donne’s return to the court was a sight to see. With 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists, her force on the court helped lead the Mystics to their first victory. Despite the loss, the Indiana Fever’s roster was loaded with star rookies ready to make their WNBA debut. Their starting lineup featured rookies Destinee Henderson and NaLyssa Smith who both saw significant playing time—Henderson grabbed 4 points and 5 assists while Smith earned her first double double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Los Angeles Sparks vs. Chicago Sky
Sparks outlast the 2021 champions Sky in an OT win, 98–91.
The Sparks have returned ready to prove themselves despite having failed to make the playoffs last season. Four-time WNBA All-Star Liz Cambage made her Sparks debut, and her 6’ 9” stature was a force to be reckoned with against the defending champions. From tipoff, the Sparks and Sky delivered a fast-paced game and at the half the Sparks were leading 42–39. Sky guard Dana Evans delivered a strong game with 24 points, 4 steals, and 5 assists, but it was not enough to overpower the Sparks. Heading into overtime, the Sparks found the extra energy needed to beat the Sky on their home court, and they’ll move forward into the season with a lot of momentum.
Las Vegas Aces vs. Phoenix Mercury
Head coach Becky Hammon lands first career win with the Aces finishing 106–88 over the Mercury.
The Las Vegas Aces opened their season against the Phoenix Mercury with a point to prove after losing to them in the 2021 playoffs. Is it the new coaching strategies or was there something in the water? The Aces took off running in the first half to out-score the Mercury, and center A’ja Wilson earned her first double double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Despite only having 9 turnovers, the Mercury’s defense did not have an answer to the powerful Aces offense and that was clear from the tipoff.
Seattle Storm vs. Minnesota Lynx
Seattle Storm dominate Lynx at newly improved Climate Pledge arena with a 97–74 win.
Seattle and Minnesota were pretty close until the second half, when the Storm found its groove and the Lynx failed to keep up. Returning veteran Breanna Stewart had herself a night with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. Considering Stewart is coming off of an Achilles injury, she looked strong and confident in her game. As for the Lynx, veteran and 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, Sylvia Fowles, put up 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. Given that this may be her last season, she sure isn’t letting it go to waste.
May 7th Matchups
New York Liberty vs. Connecticut Sun
Liberty rally together to pull off 81–79 win over the Sun.
The New York Liberty’s home opener surely delivered an exciting matchup against the Connecticut Sun. Even though it took some time, returning Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu came alive in the second half, ending her night with 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists. Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas had an excellent opening night as well with 25 points, 2 assists, and 7 rebounds. The Sun outscored the Liberty in the second half but it was not enough to secure the win.
Atlanta Dream vs. Dallas Wings
Atlanta came out on top with a 66–59 win over the Dallas Wings.
With the No. 1 overall draft pick, Rhyne Howard, the Atlanta Dream all but ensured they were going to be victorious in their season debut. Howard showed up and showed out with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 blocks. The Wings were inconsistent throughout the game, especially in the first quarter and third quarter where they scored the least amount of points compared to their second and fourth quarter. The Dream were able to capitalize on the Wings’ inconsistency by grabbing a total of 38 defensive rebounds.
May 8th Matchups
Los Angeles Sparks vs. Indiana Fever
Sparks secure second win of season in an 87–77 defeat of the Fever.
Liz Cambage is certainly finding her groove with the Sparks, and her play is unlike any other center in the league. Cambage ended her night with her first double double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Sparks played consistently throughout the match, and when you pair that consistency with Cambage’s efforts, it was a no-brainer they were the stronger team. But it’s important to note that despite the loss, Indiana Fever rookie Destinee Henderson played a significantly stronger game with 19 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals—keep an eye on her going forward.
Washington Mystics vs. Minnesota Lynx
Mystics earn their second victory 78–66.
The Washington Mystics played another strong game to beat the Minnesota Lynx without their star power forward Elena Delle Donne. Delle Donne was out for one of her many scheduled rest days she will have throughout the season as she comes back from injury. Mystics guard Natasha Cloud was at it again, knocking down 3 three-pointers in the first half to put her team in the lead. It was clear that the Mystics were the stronger team in the second quarter when they outshot the Lynx 21–4 before the half. Also, Mystics rookie Shakira Austin earned her first double double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Seattle Storm vs. Las Vegas Aces
Las Vegas Aces come out on top 85–74.
It was a great night for the Las Vegas Aces, with A’ja Wilson and Dearica Hamby both earning double doubles. The Aces started off strong and then fell a little flat in the second and third quarters, but in the final quarter Aces guard Kelsey Plum scored 10 of her 18 points, giving her team the boost they needed to win. Seattle’s Breanna Stewart played another strong game, but the fourth quarter proved to be too much and they were unable to catch the Aces.
Season 26 is certainly off to a powerful start, with some teams showing dominance early and the whole league setting us up for a great year of basketball. Season 26 is going to be a rollercoaster ride, so buckle up!