I say this often in my recaps, but it's true: the WNBA is more competitive than ever, and that was seen yet again during the third week of play this season. There were several games where reserve players outscored the starters which led to some big wins. There were also many close games, proving once again that you can't rule out any of the 12 teams as the season continues.
In addition, as it is Pride Month, several teams are ramping up their outreach and support for the LGBTQ+ community. Representatives from Indiana, New York, and Washington took part in their respective parades in their communities, and Phoenix and Minnesota will hold their Pride Night games on Friday. Washington's Kristi Toliver and Minnesota's Sylvia Fowles have also been seen wearing special shoes in honor of Pride Month.
But before we talk about next week, let's review the week that was. Time for the numbers.
8: the number of starters for Minnesota and Seattle in double figures in their first game on the West Coast.
After an entertaining matinee game, week 3 continued with the second matchup between the last two WNBA title winners in six days. The Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm had met May 29 for what turned out to be a close win for the 2017 champions; the defending winners returned the favor on June 4 with a close victory in one of their new temporary homes. Both teams are playing with new-look rosters as several players who helped their teams win their respective titles are out for various reasons. Still, both squads enjoyed balanced scoring in the contest, with four of five starters on each team finishing in double figures. Napheesa Collier led the Lynx with 17 points while Jewell Loyd led everyone with 19 for Seattle. Both teams are still finding their identity early in the season, and games like this can be seen as a positive step toward that goal.
Side note: props to the Seattle Storm for teaming up with Seattle-based TomboyX on a line of co-branded products. TomboyX is one of the most popular brands for people all along the gender spectrum – members of the LGBTQ community that a lot of bigger companies forget – so it's nice to see the Storm showing their support in this way.
103: the number of points scored by the Washington Mystics in their home victory over Chicago.
One of the early favorites to win this year's WNBA title is the Washington Mystics, who made their first finals appearance a season ago. Though the team looks a bit different than in 2018, they still look good, as seen by their 103-85 win over Chicago on June 5. It was the first time a team scored more than 100 points in the 2019 season, and I highly doubt it will be the last. Both teams enjoyed balanced scoring from starters and reserves throughout the game, but a 24-8 run from the Mystics in the second quarter set the game apart. Emma Meesseman played well in her last game for Washington for a few weeks, scoring 12 points off the bench. Despite her having to leave for international play, I think the Mystics will be fine based on this game. Diamond DeShields led everyone with 24 points for the Sky.
44.6: The percentage of points scored by DeWanna Bonner in the Phoenix Mercury's close loss to Minnesota.
The Phoenix Mercury opened up their week of play with a visit to Minnesota to take on the Lynx. The visitors had six days between games, as Phoenix squeaked out a close win against Las Vegas on May 31. This time, however, the Mercury found themselves on the other side of a close game, as the Lynx won by two. But one person pretty much singlehandedly kept Phoenix in the contest: DeWanna Bonner. She continued her dominance on the court during the game on June 6, scoring 25 of her team's 56 points. No one else on the Mercury (or the Lynx, for that matter) came close, as Odyssey Sims led Minnesota with 15. The next leading scorer for Phoenix was returning veteran Leilani Mitchell, who scored eight points her first game with the Mercury this season after being re-signed last week. (Side note: she too came back from giving birth after missing just a handful of games in 2018. As Beyonce says: strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.)
But I digress. This is about Bonner. Even though her last second heave shot in Thursday's game did not go in, giving the Lynx the win, she still kept her team in it. Bonner also scored 25 points in Phoenix's win over Indiana on June 9, only fellow queer teammate Brittney Griner added 26 to help ensure the victory for the Mercury. It's no surprise that Bonner was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for her efforts.
8:57: The combined amount of playing time by Connecticut's rookies in the Sun's win over Atlanta.
The Connecticut Sun have jumped out to a WNBA-best 5-1 record early in the season, in big part thanks to reigning two-time Eastern Conference Player of the Week Jonquel Jones and the rest of their stellar starting lineup. So despite what some fans want to see, they have not needed to use rookie draft picks Kristine Anigwe (California) and Bridget Carleton (Iowa State) too much. That is starting to change, as both rookies appeared in what turned out to be a close game against the Dream (June 9). Carleton, a second-round pick at 21st overall, made her much-anticipated WNBA debut in the contest after winning a coveted roster spot following training camp. She registered two rebounds in just over five and a half minutes (5:31). Anigwe, the ninth overall pick, played in her second game on Sunday, registering one rebound in 3:26. I hope both players see more time on the court especially with the Sun's hot start (no pun intended).
17: The losing streak broken by the New York Liberty after their first win in nearly a year.
On Sunday, June 9, the New York Liberty hosted the Las Vegas Aces in what became a historic game for both teams. New York broke its 17-game losing streak dating back to last season with an 88-78 win over Las Vegas. It was a long time coming for a squad still trying to find itself in head coach Katie Smith's second year at the helm. Before Sunday's game, the last time the Liberty won was July 15, 2018, against Chicago. So it's fair to say that the team, staff, and fans were all relieved.
“We definitely took it slow (Saturday) because we were coming off of a game,” Liberty star Tina Charles told High Post Hoops after the game. “I think just us knowing the energy we bring in, I knew that all of our first quarters have been really great. It's just about putting it together for 40 minutes and I think we were able to do that.”
And as they said on Twitter, everyone on the Liberty contributed to the big win – even if the scoreboard suggested otherwise.
On the other side, an historic streak for the Las Vegas Aces broke in their loss. A’ja Wilson started her WNBA career by scoring at least 10 points in her first 37 games. That streak came to an end Sunday, when the Liberty held her to just five points.
The only winless team in the league is the Dallas Wings.
13: The first number to be hung up in the Minnesota Lynx rafters.
No recap of the week that was in the WNBA would be complete without mentioning Lindsay Whalen's jersey retirement. The ceremony included an epic video with people from all parts of her life before the first unveiling of a jersey in the Minnesota Lynx rafters. I wrote all about the day for High Post Hoops, but I'll just say this: even though the Los Angeles Sparks won the game that came afterward, it was a day women's basketball fans in Minnesota and beyond will never forget.
As for week four, several big matchups are on deck, including Seattle visiting Connecticut in a game that can be seen on ABC. The full schedule is down below!
Tuesday, June 11
- Washington Mystics (4-1) at Connecticut Sun (5-1): 7:00 PM Eastern [CBS Sports Network]
- Seattle Storm (3-3) at Indiana Fever (3-2): 7:00 PM Eastern [Twitter]
- Phoenix Mercury (2-2) at Chicago Sky (2-2): 8:00 PM Eastern
Wednesday, June 12
- Minnesota Lynx (4-2) at New York Liberty (1-4): 7:00 PM Eastern
Thursday, June 13
- Indiana Fever at Dallas Wings (0-4): 8:00 PM Eastern [CBS Sports Network]
Friday, June 14
- Seattle Storm at Washington Mystics: 7:00 PM Eastern
- Connecticut Sun at Minnesota Lynx: 8:00 PM Eastern
- Los Angeles Sparks (3-2) at Phoenix Mercury: 10:00 PM Eastern [CBS Sports Network]
- New York Liberty at Las Vegas Aces (2-3): 10:30 PM Eastern
Saturday, June 15
- Chicago Sky at Indiana Fever: 7:00 PM Eastern
- Atlanta Dream (1-4) at Dallas Wings: 8:00 PM Eastern [NBA TV]
- New York Liberty at Los Angeles Sparks: 10:00 PM Eastern [NBA TV]
Sunday, June 16
- Seattle Storm at Connecticut Sun: 3:30 PM Eastern [ABC]
- Las Vegas Aces at Minnesota Lynx: 7:00 PM Eastern
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