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This Week in Women’s Basketball: WNBA Finals to have chartered flights

News on Brittney Griner, WNBA All-Star, flagrant fouls, and more.

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2022 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game Photo by Mary Kate Ridgway/NBAE via Getty Images

Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained for 148 days. It’s time to bring BG home.

UMMC Ekaterinburg teammate and GM speak on Griner’s behalf in court

Griner’s trial continued in Russia this week, and her Ekaterinburg teammate Evgeniya Belyakova and general manager Maxim Ryabkov served as character witnesses for the basketball star. Per T.J. Quinn of ESPN, it’s the first time since her detainment that Griner has had in-person contact with people she knows, though Griner remained in the defendant’s cage during the proceedings.

Chicago head coach James Wade (a former Ekaterinburg coach) and Diana Taurasi (Griner’s current teammate and former Ekaterinburg player) both spoke about the importance of having Russian advocates for Griner during her trial.

Griner’s lawyer also presented a letter from a U.S. doctor advising that she use medical cannabis to treat pain. Her detention is currently extended through Dec. 20, but her lawyers expect her trial to end in August.

WNBA All-Stars wear Griner’s name and number for second half of All-Star Game

The 22 WNBA All-Stars came out of halftime with no. 42 Griner jerseys, and Team Stewart co-captain Sue Bird explained the decision as such:

“Either way you look at it, we just wanted to make sure at some point that we were able to on national television, obviously in front of a sold-out crowd, put Brittney’s name in the forefront. “That was our way of honoring her, our way of hopefully at some point she sees a picture or something and letting her know that she is always on our minds and in our hearts.”

Griner was photographed this week with a picture of the tribute.

Kelsey Plum wins All-Star MVP as numerous All-Star Game records are set

The first-time All-Star from the Las Vegas Aces, also voted into the starting lineup, scored 30 points to tie Maya Moore (2014) for the highest individual score. Her squad, Team Wilson, set a record with 134 points.

The two teams also combined to set an All-Star Game record with 109 3-point attempts. The 39 total makes were a record, and Jewell Loyd tied an individual record with seven made threes, joining Shoni Schimmel, Kristi Toliver, and Erica Wheeler. All stats courtesy of Across the Timeline.

Plum also won one of the smallest MVP trophies known to mankind, a detail her Aces teammates couldn’t help but poke fun at.

Allie Quigley wins 3-point shootout for a record fourth time, announces retirement from event (probably)

Chicago’s own Allie Quigley won the 3-point shootout in her hometown for a fourth time, the most by any woman or man. She scored 26 points in the first round to lead all contestants, barely edging Ariel Atkins and Rhyne Howard, each of whom tallied 24. In the final, however, it was a blowout, as Quigley’s mark of 30 far outpaced Atkins at 21. Quigley won the contest on her fourth rack and was just shooting for glory on the final rack.

Sabrina Ionescu, another first-time All-Star and starter, won the other event on Saturday, capturing the Skills Challenge victory alongside Zoe Brooks, an NC State commit playing in the Nike Nationals.

Cathy Engelbert announces changes at her pre-All-Star press conference

The WNBA commissioner revealed that flights will be chartered during this year’s WNBA Finals. The playoff bonus pool will also increase to $500,000, which will double the amount of money each player on the title-winning team receives.

The commissioner also announced that the regular season will expand to 40 games next season. There are no notable international competitions in 2023 as it is not an Olympics or World Cup year, so the WNBA will have more flexibility with its schedule, thus the freedom to increase the number of games.

Shaylee Gonzales is transferring to Texas

The two-time West Coast Conference player of the year at BYU will be taking her talents to Texas for 2022-23. The Longhorns made it to the Elite Eight in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, losing to Stanford 59-50.

WNBA upgrades Diana Taurasi’s kick to flagrant 2 foul

In a double-overtime defeat to the Minnesota Lynx Tuesday, Taurasi kicked Sylvia Fowles in her midsection. During the game, no foul call was issued, but the league reportedly upgraded the contact to a flagrant foul 2, per Meredith Cash of Business Insider.

However, this determination wasn’t made until Friday, three days after the incident when Phoenix and Minnesota had each played subsequent games. In the Mercury’s next game, Taurasi had some questionable contact with the Mystics’ Atkins. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve called on the league to use its replay capabilities in a more timely fashion (h/t Jackie Powell) to prevent these types of plays in the future.

Stanford will host South Carolina on Nov. 20

The WNBA trade deadline passes without any deals

A future trade could be in the works, however, as Khristina Williams reported that Dallas will “most likely” move Allisha Gray this offseason. Gray is under contract with the Wings for one more season, a protected deal valued at $169,600, but could be extended by her new team.

The Indiana Fever also waived Bria Hartley to make room to sign Rennia Davis, the 2021 first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Lynx. Hartley will reportedly be headed to Connecticut, where the Sun need some backcourt reinforcements after Jasmine Thomas’s season-ending ACL tear.