WNBA Game Day #38 / Friday, September 4

Sky take costly loss at Mystics’ hands

The Chicago Sky are in trouble: They’ve now lost 4 of their last 5 games and are sliding down the WNBA standings, now ranking 6th at 11–8. In regards to the playoffs, the Mystics on the other hand are on the outside looking in. At 5–12, they’re only 1.5 games behind the Dallas Wings who currently hold the 8th and final postseason spot.

Washington good off to a good start and built a 12-point advantage in the first quarter. Leilani Mitchell and Myisha Hines-Allen were hot from the get-go, as Chicago was unable to get to the Mystics’ shooters in time or to defend in the post. After a miscommunication on the Sky’s part, Ariel Atkins broke free and laid the ball in to make it 28–16. Chicago was having trouble creating an efficient offense with Courtney Vandersloot on the bench, as they are lacking depth, especially in the guard slots.

With “Sloot” back on the court, the Sky went on a 10–2 run to start the second period, as Cheyenne Parker was running rampant from the bench once again. The 6-4 forward was 8/9 from the field (1/2 3pt), while also grabbing 6 boards. Turnovers were an issue, though, as she gave the ball away 5 times. Chicago’s improved defense held Washington to just 13 points in the quarter, so they were able to cut the deficit to just 3 right before halftime. Mitchell, who had an outstanding game for the Mystics, scored a beautiful floater off the glass with the clock winding down to make it 45–40 after 20 minutes of action.

The game remained close all throughout the third quarter, as neither team was able to string together a couple of makes and go on a run. Considering both teams’ offensive-minded approach to basketball, a low-scoring contest wasn’t really what you’d have expected. The Sky were able to make it a one-possession game more than once, but they couldn’t take the lead, as the Mystics always had the right answer. Mitchell put her team up 11 with 7:30 minutes left in the fourth, when she drained another triple. She was 4/7 for the game and finished with a season-high in points (20) and a career-high in assists. Hines-Allen also posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Thibault relied heavily on his starters, as the bench players only combined for 8 points on 4/13 shooting. At this point, Parker kept her squad in the game by dominating the paint with her nifty moves and her physical strength. Rookie Ruthy Hebard finished off a Chicago mini-run to cut the lead down to 4, but Meesseman and Mitchell had the answer from midrange. The Mystics cleverly managed their lead and would not allow Chicago back in the game, eventually winning it 79–69.

Head coach James Wade has a difficult task at hand: What looked to be a promising run a week ago has now turned around into a downslide. Chicago’s lost two key performers in Diamond DeShields and Azurá Stevens, and they’ve tried to address that issue by trading for Stefanie Mavunga and signing Alisia Jenkins. But it’s mainly the lack of plamaking when Vandersloot sits that’s worrisome going forward. It’ll be interesting to see if the Sky can bounce back – and how long “Sloot” can keep up her streak of dishing out double-digits worth of assists.

Boxscore: https://www.wnba.com/game/20200904/CHIWAS/

Lynx dominate Dallas in the second half

The Minnesota Lynx have taken over the 3rd spot in the league standings with their win against the Dallas Wings on Friday. With a dominant display in the second half, they were able to more than make up for what they’d done wrong in the first. Dallas hangs on to its 8th spot but barely. They still have the Dream, the Mystics and the Fever to worry about.

Minnesota had been sharp from the get-go, though. They started the game on a 24–11 run, powered by Damiris Dantas, who had conservated her great form from the prior game. Dallas fought back – and Allisha Gray led the charge. She formed an outstanding duo with Tyasha Harris (as they had done off the bench early in the season), bringing the Wings back to within 1 at the end of the first quarter (25–24). It took Minnesota 4 minutes to score in the second period, allowing the Wings to completely turn the game around with a 31–3 run. 31–3! Dallas’ biggest advantage was 15 (44–29). The Lynx worked their way back in the game, cutting the lead to 5. Gray knocked down another three-pointer to make it 49–41 with a little over a second remaining in the first half.

Crystal Dangerfield and Odyssey Sims took over for Cheryl Reeve’s team at the start of the third period. Both guards connected on a triple to put Minnesota back in the lead. Katie Lou Samuelson, who had a good outing off the bench for Brian Agler’s Wings (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) answered right back, but 52–51 would be their last lead of the contest. Bridget Carleton chipped in a few big baskets. For Dallas, it was all Gray. The former ROY put on a show, knocking down tough shots off the dribble and relentlessly attacking the basket. She’d finish the game with a career-high 26 points on 9/15 shooting (2/4 3pt). The Lynx still outscored the Wings 28–14 and went into the final 10 minutes up 69–63.

In the end, the difference maker were Minnesota’s (offensive) rebounding and their execution on both sides of the floor. It surely helped that Rachel Banham caught fire in the fourth, shooting a perfect 4/4 (3/3 3pt). Napheesa Collier stepped up as well and was a crucial part of the Lynx’ run to seal the deal. With 4:20 minutes left, it was virtually over: Dallas didn’t look as if they had an answer to Minnesota’s defense and offense, trailing 84–71. Overall, the Lynx outscored the Wings 47–26 in the second half and got a well-deserved win. Dallas’ stars were too inefficient to get a better result: Arike Ogunbowale was 4/15 (1/7 3pt), while Satou Sabally shot 3/11 from the floor. They combined for just 23 points, while Minnesota’s starters all finished in double digits.

Boxscore: https://www.wnba.com/game/20200904/MINDAL/

Loyd’s buzzer beater lifts Storm over Sparks

Boxscore: https://www.wnba.com/game/20200904/SEALAS/

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