WNBA East Week 10 Recap

The Connecticut Sun are heating up and the New York Liberty have ended the Chicago Sky’s winning streak.

By Elisha Gunaratnam

While another week has passed by without the Indiana Fever picking up a win, the Mystics and Sun are celebrating perfect weeks. Also celebrating? The New York Liberty. The Liberty finally put an end to their losing streak, and in doing so, also put an end to the Chicago Sky’s six-game winning streak. Let’s take a look back at how each of the Eastern Conference teams fared in their games over the past few days.

The Mystics Thrill the Campers

New York got off to a strong start on Thursday morning—you read that correctly, it was an 11:30 a.m. game—but the Liberty couldn’t get their offense going enough to end their losing streak. The Washington Mystics thrilled hundreds of DC area youth with a 78–68 win on their camp day. 

The third quarter is what really sealed the game for the Mystics. Washington held New York to just 11 points while scoring 19 of their own. In addition to the Liberty slowing down in the third quarter of the game, another thing that hurt the team was their turnovers—something the team has struggled with this season. New York turned the ball over a total of 15 times. If the Liberty want to start winning again, they are going to need to take better care of the ball.

Elena Delle Donne had another impressive outing for the Mystics, finishing the matchup with a game-high 25 points. Myisha Hines-Allen provided the team with a boost from the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in the win.

For the Liberty, Natasha Howard led the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Sabrina Ionescu was the next leading scorer with 15 points and 8 rebounds. 

Credit needs to be given to the New York Liberty, who played their third camp day this season. The WNBA schedule can be grueling, and it takes a lot out of a team to play three games before 12:00 p.m. We suspect that there’s going to be plenty of kids who are rocking teal jerseys in the future.

Dream Winning Streak Ends in Los Angeles 

After the Atlanta Dream defeated the Phoenix Mercury and shocked the league by dominating the Las Vegas Aces last week, WNBA fans were curious to see if Atlanta could take down another Western Conference team. Unfortunately for Dream fans, their team was unable to pick up a win against the Sparks, losing their matchup 85–78.

After they went down 26–16 in the first quarter, the Dream just did not have it in themselves to mount a comeback. It did not help that the team shot 39% from behind the arc, while the Sparks shot 54.5% from the same distance.

Chiney Ogwumike shoots over Cheyenne Parker (LA Sparks PR Twitter)

Tiffany Hayes—who was our player to watch during this game—led Atlanta with 18 points. Aari McDonald also finished the games with 18 points off the bench, and shot an astounding 77.8% from the field. Rightfully so, after the game the Dream started a campaign to put Aari McDonald in the conversation for the Sixth Player of the Year award.

Despite the heroic efforts from McDonald off of the bench, when the Ogwumike sisters get going, it’s pretty difficult for any team to find a response to their scoring. Nneka scored a game-high 20 points on 9 of 11 shooting, and Chiney had a season-high 15 points in the contest. Brittney Sykes and Katie Lou Samuelson each added 12 points of their own.

The Fever’s Woes Continue

Indiana opened the game with a 5–0 lead, but never regained the lead for the remainder of their contest against the Aces. Las Vegas looked like they were making a statement and refused to let Indiana get within single-digits after the start of the second quarter, ultimately defeating the Fever 90–77.

A’ja Wilson gave the Aces their largest lead at 68–37 with a three-pointer at 4:44 left on the clock in the third. Indiana played its best basketball during the fourth, outscoring Las Vegas 25–14.

We had named NaLyssa Smith as our player to watch in this match, noting that the Fever would need a big game from her if they wanted to compete with the offensive power of the Aces. To Smith’s credit, she did end up playing one of her best games of the year on Thursday. Smith led her team with 24 points, shooting an impressive 5 of 7 from three-point range. The one area of the floor where she struggled from was the free throw line, where she missed 6 of her 7 attempts. Victoria Vivians was the Fever’s next leading scorer with 14 points, and Kelsey Mitchell had a relatively quiet night for the team, finishing the night with 10 points.

The Aces leading scorers were A’ja Wilson (23 points), Jackie Young (16 points), and Chelsea Gray (14 points) who also had 12 assists during the game.

Unfortunately for the Fever, they still have two more games against Las Vegas this season. They will have to spend some time in the film room and try to come up with a better game plan for their next meeting on Friday.

No Jonquel Jones? No Problem. 

With Jonquel Jones being unavailable for the Sun, Connecticut needed other players on their roster to step up in Friday night’s contest, and the team did not disappoint. The team had four players finish the game in double-figure scoring, helping Connecticut defeat Minnesota 94–84.

The Sun opened up the game with a 10–4 lead before Sylvia Fowles helped tie up the game midway through the first quarter. Connecticut kept their composure and scored 24 of the next 36 points to make it 34–22 with 8 minutes to go in the second quarter. Minnesota trailed by double figures the rest of the way.

These two teams had never matched up this season, and their first meeting was a historic one. Alyssa Thomas became the first Connecticut Sun player in franchise history (and the fourth player this season) to record a triple-double. Thomas made 7 of 13 of her shots from the field and finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, and three steals. DeWanna Bonner led the Sun in scoring with 20 points. Courtney Williams also scored 15 points for Connecticut and Brionna Jones and newcomer Bria Hartley scored 11 apiece.

Aerial Powers led the Lynx with 14 points and Rachel Banham added 11. Sylvia Fowles, Kayla McBride, and Nikolina Milic scored 12 points apiece.

The Wings Can’t Handle the Sky 

The Chicago Sky picked up their sixth consecutive win when they defeated the Dallas Wings 89–83 on Friday night. 

Chicago got off to a good start to the game and went into the locker room with a 50–39 lead at halftime. Once the referee blew the whistle to start the third quarter, however, Dallas began their comeback.

The Wings scored six consecutive points in the fourth quarter to make it 75–74 and pulled ahead for the first time when Tyasha Harris hit a floater with 6:57 to play. Luckily for Chicago, Julie Allemand scored 11 of her season-high 13 points in the fourth quarter to help her team fend off Dallas’ late rally. Allemand answered Harris’ basket with a three-point play to put Chicago back in front about a minute later, and after Arike Ogunbowale made a three-pointer to give Dallas the lead again, Allemand hit a three-pointer and then made a layup to give the Sky the lead for good with 3:01 remaining on the clock. Ogunbowale hit another 3 to pull the Wings to 84–83, but Parker scored inside and Allemand made 3 of 4 of her shots from the free-throw line in the final 90 seconds to seal the win for Chicago.

Candace Parker and Kahleah Copper celebrate after their win over the Dallas Wings (WNBA Twitter)

Kahleah Copper once again led the Sky in scoring with 19 points, and her teammate Candace Parker added 14 while Emma Meesseman put up 13 points and dished out 9 assists.

Arike Ogunbowale had a game-high 28 points for the Wings.

The Sky and Liberty End Their Streaks 

Saturday was not a great day for the Chicago Sky. The team had to wake up early to catch a flight to New York for their second game in two days, and in typical WNBA fashion, faced travel woes and did not arrive at their destination when they intended to. If you’re a superstitious person, you probably went into Saturday night’s game with a bad feeling based on how the day started for Chicago. Sure enough, despite leading with under 20 seconds left on the clock, the Sky couldn’t come up with the key stops they needed, and lost the game 83–80.

Chicago carried a 39–37 going into halftime, but their fatigue really started to show in the third quarter when they were outscored 24–16. Still, the team rallied in the fourth and went on a 13–2 run to regain the lead with 3:11 left to play in the game. 

With Vanessa Bryant and her family in attendance cheering her on, Sabrina Ionescu was determined to end her team’s losing streak and give the home crowd a win. With 9 seconds left on the clock, Ionescu converted a three-point play to put her team on top. 

In her post-game reaction to making the shot, Ionescu simply said, “well they were forcing me right, so I just went right.”

Ionescu led her team with 17 points and 9 rebounds, and Natasha Howard was close behind her with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Steph Dolson scored 13 points against her old team, and Han Xu recorded her 12 double-digit scoring game of the season, finishing the game with 12 points, six rebounds, and 2 assists.

For the Sky, Candace Parker recorded another double-double with her 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Kahleah Copper added 17 points and 7 rebounds in the loss.

Both Ionescu and coach Sandy Brondello acknowledged the struggles that the Chicago Sky had to face before their game in New York even began, and Brondello spoke out against having back-to-back games in different cities.

The Fever Are Eliminated from the Playoffs 

When you’ve lost 11 games in a row, you’re probably not feeling very optimistic about your odds in the next game. With the exception of a few players, most of the Indiana Fever squad looked like they had already given up on their season during their matchup against the Dallas Wings on Sunday, and the team picked up its 12th consecutive loss, losing the game 96–86.

Kelsey Mitchell, our player to watch during this game, did not disappoint. Mitchell recorded her third 30 point game in her career, dropping a career-high 34 points, along with 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocked shots. Mitchell left it all on the floor, but with NaLyssa Smith (16 points) and Queen Egbo (14 points) being the only two other real contributors for the team, Indiana just couldn’t compete with a Dallas offense that saw four players (Arike Ogunbowale, Teaira McCowan, Allisha Gray, Kayla Thornton) finish the contest with double-figure scoring.

While the team has been officially eliminated from the playoffs, they still have time to achieve one of the goals they set prior to the start of the season. Prior to the start of their rookie year, the rookies of the Indiana Fever declared that their immediate goal was to win more than six games—the total number of wins the organization collected last season. The Fever still have six games left to make that happen.

Tina Charles Leads Seattle to a Win

After the Atlanta Dream defeated the Seattle Storm in their last matchup and held their own against them in the first quarter of Sunday’s game, it looked like they might be able to pull off another upset. Tina Charles had other plans. Charles’ 20 points and 10 rebounds in the first half of the game helped the Storm open up the score in the second quarter, and helped Seattle defeat Atlanta 82–72.

Tina Charles finished the game with 27 points, and league scoring leader Brianna Stewart scored 11 of her 23 points in the third quarter of the matchup. Stewart also grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out four assists, and tallied three blocks and two steals in the contest.

Rhyne Howard led Atlanta with 23 points, but she made only 9 of 30 shots, including 4 of 14 from distance. Cheyenne Parker and Tiffany Hayes scored 12 apiece. In just the fourth start of her WNBA career, Naz Hillmon added 9 points and 14 rebounds in 37 minutes of action.

With her 23 points against Seattle, Rhyne Howard now holds the record for the most 20-point games by a Dream rookie in franchise history. She also became the second rookie ever to put up at least 30 field goal attempts in a single game.

The Sun Pick up Their Third Win in a Row 

In a rematch of Friday night’s game, the hero for Connecticut during Sunday’s matchup was Natisha Hiedeman, who sank 5 three-pointers and finished the game with 19 points and 5 assists. With coach Curt Miller choosing to limit Jonquel Jones’ minutes after her return from Covid-19, the rest of the Sun roster came up big once again, helping their team to a 86–79 win over the Lynx.

Moriah Jefferson hit a bucket and 1 of 2 free throws to give Minnesota a 47–46 lead with 4:40 left in the third quarter. But after DeWanna Bonner sank a jumper and 1 of 2 foul shots, Bria Hartley buried a three-pointer, and Bonner capped an 8–0 run with a basket, the Sun never trailed again.

In addition to Hiedeman’s big performance, Connecticut had three players finish in the game in double-figures. Brionna Jones scored 18 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, Alyssa Thomas scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Courtney Williams put up 12 points in 27 minutes of action.

Aerial Powers led Minnesota with 17 points, rookie Nikolina Milic scored 14 before fouling out, and Rachel Banham came off the bench to score 11.

Unfortunately for the Sun, newcomer Bria Hartley appeared to pick up an injury during the game. Coach Curt Miller has said that Hartley is still being evaluated, and has not yet provided an update on her status.

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