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Recap: Fever, Lynx and Mercury get big wins on Saturday night

The WNBA picture is starting to look much clearer at the top after Saturday’s games. Plus, Indiana rookie Victoria Vivians had a breakout performance.

Los Angeles Sparks v Phoenix Mercury - Game Three Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

On Saturday, there were three games on the schedule. Though no games were decided on a buzzer beater, there is more certainty about which teams figure to be among the league’s contenders, and which ones will not.

Fever blow out the Dream, 96-64

Victoria Vivians scored 21 points while Kelsey Mitchell added 19 more to give the Fever (1-10) their first win of the season. Angel McCoughtry scored 19 points to lead the Dream. The highlight of this game was Indiana’s big 36-16 third-quarter run which helped turn the game in Indiana’s favor.

  • We know Kelsey Mitchell is big-time, but Vivians needs to hit this level again. Before the WNBA Draft, Victoria Vivians was a wing player who could have been picked fifth or sixth, though she ultimately fell to the Fever. Her 5-of-8 shooting performance from three is just one indication of her potential. For the Fever to start winning more games, Vivians will have to keep shooting like this more consistently. In fact, she scored in double figures in each of her last two games.
  • Tiffany Hayes and Stephanie Mavunga were injured. The Dream guard and Fever center were hurt in the third quarter of the game. If Hayes had been able to play for the entire game, could that have changed the outcome for Atlanta?
  • Indiana has been the hungriest WNBA team for a while now. The Fever were on a 10-game losing streak to start the 2018 season and were desperate for a win. At some point, their desperation to win would finally work in their favor. It shouldn’t be that surprising that Indiana would beat the Dream by double digits because of that. Furthermore, they lost many close games earlier this season.

Lynx defeat Liberty, 85-71

After losing five of their last six games, the Lynx (4-6) defeated the Liberty 85-71 at home after a three-game road trip. Sylvia Fowles scored 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting while Maya Moore added 20 more points.

For the Liberty (3-6), they have now cooled off considerably. In fact, they are tied for ninth place with the Chicago Sky and are only ahead of the Aces and Fever in the standings.

  • Cecilia Zandalasini needs more playing time. The reserve guard scored in double digits in each of her last two games. After starting this season with sporadic time, she’s now a dependable option off the bench. If the Lynx are going to get back into the top 4 in the standings, playing Zandalasini regularly will be a must.
  • The Liberty are struggling to score. The Liberty failed to score 80 points in four of their last five games. Defense may win championships, but this team has more than enough offensive firepower to score 80 points or more on a consistent basis.

Mercury defeat the Sun, 89-72

Diana Taurasi scored 19 points and dished four assists to lead the Mercury (9-3) to their seventh consecutive win, this time over the Sun (7-4), who were the WNBA’s top team just a week ago.

For the Sun, Morgan Tuck scored 20 points, but the bigger story was that both Alyssa Thomas and Chiney Ogwumike missed Saturday’s game due to knee and shoulder injuries, respectively.

  • Diana Taurasi is fourth all-time in assists. Taurasi is already the WNBA’s career leading scorer and three-point shooter. But she’s also a great playmaker and passer in her own right. With her four-assist game last night, she is now ahead of Becky Hammon on the all-time assists chart.
  • Connecticut was blown out due to injuries. If Thomas and Ogwumike were available to counter DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner, then this game would have been much closer.
  • The Mercury look like serious contenders for a top-two seed. There’s still two-thirds of the WNBA regular season left. But the Mercury is in prime position to clinch one of the coveted byes to the WNBA semifinals given that they’re on a seven-game winning streak to this point.