Sun continue to rise against Washington
In a 2019 WNBA Finals rematch, the Connecticut Sun got the better of the Washington Mystics. A revenge that probably did not feel as sweet as they may have hoped, as the reigning champs played with an almost completely new lineup.
Connecticut was without Brionna Jones, Bria Holmes, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Theresa Plaisance, while the Mystics were missing Stella Johnson and Aerial Powers (on top of all the others). Curt Miller only had 8 players available. Both teams took symbolic 24 second violations to start each quarter to raise awareness on voter registration.
Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net in the first period, but Connecticut pulled ahead in the second. Alyssa Thomas laid the ball in after a nice pass from Essence Carson to give the Sun a double-digit lead at 34–23. Rookie Kaila Charles went off for a careerhigh 15 points on 6/10 shooting (3/5 3pt). The discrepancy in shot attempts and field goal percentage was wild. With 2:43 minutes left in the first half, Connecticut had gone 15/34, while Washington was 6/22. The 13-point deficit at that time would have been even bigger had it not been for the Mystics’ success at the charity stripe. Emma Meesseman had herself an efficient night, though, scoring 14 points (4/5 FG) alongside 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Myisha Hines-Allen had a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards, but struggled with her shot all game (3/12 FG, 1/5 3pt). She was Washington’s best facilitator that night, dishing out 6 assists.
Washington was unable to erase the double-digit deficit in the second half or even cutt it back to within single digits. On the contrary – the Sun even extended their lead with an 11–3 run to start the third. They never looked back afterwards, sealing their 7th win in 11 games and cementing that 7th spot in their hunt for the playoffs. Alyssa Thomas had another near-triple-double with 16 points, 11 boards and 8 assists. DeWanna Bonner also played well, recording a double-double as well (20 points, 11 boards).
Lynx’ late push not enough against Mercury
Phoenix got off to a red hot start to the game, as they were clinical from behind the three-point line, but also outworking the Lynx. Brianna Turner was everywhere, fighting for rebounds, closing gaps in the defense and scoring herself. She did her best to make up for the loss of Brittney Grinder. She finished the game with an impressive double-double of 10 points (5/5 FG) and 15 rebounds and had 4 blocks as well as 2 asissts and 2 steals. Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith will have to shoulder the scoring load going forward, as Bria Hartley has suffered a torn ACL in her right knee. Both guards scored well over 20 points, leading the charge and leading by example. Phoenix led Minnesota 19–9 after 5 minutes of action and would increase its lead to 33–18 at the end of the first quarter, as Sophie Cunningham drilled a corner three.
Phoenix even added another 4 unanswered points, before Napheesa Collier broke the spell by draining a long ball for Minnesota. Despite only having 8 players available, the Mercury held on to their 20-point lead midway through the second period (45–23). A quick 7–0 Lynx run was answered by an excellent pick-and-roll between Diggins-Smith and Turner. Collier beat the buzzer with a tough fadeaway jumper over Turner to narrow the gap to 51–36 at halftime. The Lynx tried to make a push in the third, but Phoenix always had an answer. After 30 minutes of action they were still up 65–51.
On the back of a 14–5 run, Minnesota found a way back into the game, though. Dangerfield and Collier were terrific. The Mercury immediately restored their double-digit advantage, but the Lynx had smelled blood. Cheryl Reeve’s squad (pack, rather) was able to make it a one-possession game with just over a minute left (77–74). SDS had the perfect answer once more, hitting a tough jump shot in traffic. “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan pulled her team within 2 points with her second three-pointer of the night, but to no avail, as the Mercury survived on Taurasi’s wild shooting night. The GOAT finished with 23 points on 7/18 shooting. Her 15 three-point attempts (4 makes) were just shy of a career-high and so were her 12 rebounds. “Sky” had a game-high 25, while Dangerfield was the Lynx’ best scorer on an efficient night (9/14 FG, 1/4 3pt). Minnesota only had two players in double figures with Damiris Dantas, Bridget Carleton and Lexie Brown combining for a mere 14.