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Hoops Happening: A’ja Wilson has career night in dominant Aces’ OT win

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The Fever stay winless. Plus, recaps of all of yesterday’s games, some random fun facts, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Tuesday June 12, 2018!

Seattle Storm v Las Vegas Aces
A’ja Wilson | Caption this.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It was hard to watch the winless Indiana Fever fall to 0-9 on the season after fighting so hard to tip the game into overtime. But the beautiful basketball from A’ja Wilson and the Aces got Las Vegas their second win of the season in thrilling style. Also last night, the Mercury won over the Wings, the Storm felled the Sky and the Sparks’ defeated the Dream.

Here’s how it happened:

Aces (101) vs. (92) Fever

It was the same story for the Indiana Fever: aggressive, inspired play with glimmers of hope for a possible win, only to come up short. The good news for the Fever is that players not named Kelsey Mitchell had strong showings, with Natalie Achonwa notching a monster double-double with 26 points and 15 rebounds.

Veteran Candice Dupree, who has struggled to get in rhythm this season and battled a knee injury, scored 16 points. Meanwhile, Mitchell and teammate Tiffany Mitchell scored 17 apiece, while Erica Wheeler tallied an impressive 12 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds.

The Fever outscored the Aces 24-18 in the fourth quarter, forcing overtime. But the Fever came up short because there was just too much A’ja Wilson. The dominant rookie star for the Aces scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win, with 17 of her points coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Wilson also became only the second rookie in WNBA history to notch a game with 35 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Teammates Kayla McBride, Dearica Hamby and Tamera Young also scored in double digits for the Aces, while the two Kelseys (Bone and Plum) scored 8 points each. The Aces outscored the Fever 17-8 in extra minutes.

The Aces move to 2-7 on the season, while the Fever fall to 0-9. The teams remain 11th and 12th in the standings.

Can Vegas win the second game of a back-to-back against another surging team? Fans will find out tonight when the Aces host the Liberty.


Mercury (75) vs. (72) Wings

Bigs Brittney Griner and Liz Cambage scored from beyond the arc in an exciting, high-energy opening quarter but eventually fouled out of the game before the final buzzer.

Bad energy was in the air ... as in vibes ... which seemed to have little to do with the game, save for the excessive and weird foul calling, including a technical on Skylar Diggins-Smith.

The Wings dominated in most areas of the box score but played with a roster of only eight bodies, with multiple players out of the lineup due to injury. The team-high scorer for Dallas was Skylar Diggins-Smith, with 16 points, and four other Wings’ players scored double digits. Diggins-Smith outworked everyone on the court, as is her style, so it’d be great to see her unmatched efforts start to pay off for her team in the win column.

The Mercury got in foul trouble early and were outperformed in most columns of the box score. But timely three-pointers, with Phoenix scoring 41% from deep (to Dallas’ 25%), perhaps decided this one. Diana Taurasi was the game-high scorer with 21 points. Griner contributed 18 points, Sancho Lyttle tallied a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) and DeWanna Bonner finished in double figures as well.

Taurasi took an elbow to the nose from Cambage that left her writhing on the court in pain for several minutes. She did not leave the game, but the team will likely examine her further to determine if any treatment or procedure is required.

Phoenix is now in third place in the standings with an 8-3 record, behind the Sun (#1) and the Sparks (#2). For their part, the Wings are middling at .500 with 4-4 for the season.


Storm (96) vs. Sky (85)

Rookie Diamond DeShields scored a team-high 22 points for Chicago, followed by 19 from Allie Quigley and a 10-10 double-double in points and rebounds from Cheyenne Parker. But the well-rounded effort was no match for Breanna Stewart, who tallied a game-high 30 points, with double-digit scoring also come from Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard.

Chicago had managed to keep it close, including winnings the second and third quarters. But Seattle stormed away with the lead, out-scoring the the Sky 31-12 in the fourth.

The Sky has fallen to 10th in the standings with a 3-6 record, while the Storm has moved up to fourth place, at 7-3.


Sparks (72) vs. (64) Dream

After a strong record of crushing the dreams of high-ranking teams this season, Atlanta came up a bit short against the Sparks, letting LA get away with an eight-point victory. But this wasn’t for lack of trying.

Tiffany Hayes scored a team-high 16 points, with Jessica Breland and Angel McCoughtry also scoring in double figures. But it was improved play from the bench that should bolster Atlanta’s confidence for future games. Layshia Clarendon contributed 7 points, which included 5-for-5 from the charity stripe, grabbed 3 rebounds and dished 2 assists. Imani McGee-Stafford scored 4 points, grabbed 5 rebounds (4 of which were on the offensive end) and dished 2 assists.

But the Sparks got it done with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double from Nneka Ogwumike, 18 points from Candace Parker and 10 points and 7 assists from Chelsea Gray.

The Sparks remains second in the standings behind the Sun, with the Dream above .500 at 5-4 for the season.


Play of the night

A’ja Wilson’s smooth put-back bucket in final seconds of the second quarter.

Plus, her other 33 points of the night were pretty nice, too.


NBA TV adds 5 games to this week’s schedule!

It’d be great to think this decision is due to the exciting play of the season, even amongst low-standings teams — and the awesome coverage of smaller media outfits covering women’s basketball that never cease to generate buzz. But it’s not lost on us that this is a business. The NBA Finals are over and done with, and the Warriors had their championship parade yesterday. So, why not air actual games being played during an active season? Seems logical to us! Let’s hope this continues and other media entities follow suit.

Here’s the UPDATED NATIONAL VIEWING SCHEDULE.


Injury report

In the type of news no one likes to hear, the Dallas Wings’ Karima Christmas-Kelly will miss the rest of season due to a knee injury that will require surgery.

“Any time a team loses a key contributor, it creates a challenge and what Karima means to our squad as a co-captain and leader is about so much more than just on-court performance,” stated Wings President & CEO Greg Bibb. “Karima is the ultimate competitor and I know she will face this setback like any challenge, and ultimately persevere. I look forward to seeing her return to the court as soon as possible.”

Christmas-Kelly’s recovery is expected to take six months. To fill the gap for the remainder of the 2018 season, Dallas signed Teana Muldrow after being granted a roster hardship exemption. Muldrow had just flown to Dallas that day, and did not play.

Glory Johnson has returned for Dallas, but last night, in addition to Christmas-Kelly watching from the bench, the Wings were also without the services of Cayla George, Theresa Plaisance and Leticia Romero.

Next up in the WNBA

Two big nationally-televised games are the schedule for today. Stay tuned for previews!


Did you know?

Liz Cambage was the first woman basketball player to dunk in the Olympics (2012). For anyone wondering, she was born in London and reared in Australia.

Marie Vadeeva, who was finally able to join the LA Sparks a few days ago after resolving visa issues, began playing ball professionally in Russia at age 15. She arrives in the City of Angels at the ripe old age of 19.


Link lush

Scorching the status quo

Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. Often lost — rather, omitted — from the conversation of this tragedy is that the slaughter of those who had their lives stolen that night was motivated by hate. In effect, it was a hate crime motivated by homophobia. The shooter targeted the club specifically because it was a gay club. During this month of Pride, let’s all remember that — as well as the families and friends of those who perished.

WNBA

Society’s survival depends upon its citizens making the choice to extend tolerance and compassion towards those who may be different from themselves.

In other news ...

The NCCA’s trash new policy aligns perfectly with America’s trash workplace norms. Everyone needs a day off — everyone, especially students who are supposed to be engaging in activities like studying. If the NCAA is going to require round-the-clock work of its athletes, then it needs to pay the athletes round-the-clock salaries.

Keep reading ...


How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *