Jantel Lavender, known for her mid-range game, has made just 22 threes in her 315 WNBA games, but she made a big one for Team Carrington in the Athletes Unlimited league on Saturday night.
She hit a dagger from downtown that put them up nine with 45 seconds left and Essence Carson’s ensuing three with 27 seconds left became that much more meaningless as Team Carrington (3-0) held on to defeat Team Sims (0-3) 84-78 at Sport Center of Las Vegas.
It was a back-and-forth game, but Team Sims was unable to pick up its first win. Team Carrington’s MeMe Jackson (Tennessee) made her third three of the night to tie the game at 75 with 3:15 remaining. That was the start of a 12-0 run that concluded with Lavender’s three.
DiJonai Carrington (16 points, six rebounds) made a layup to give her team a 77-75 lead and then two free throws apiece came from Isabelle Harrison (team-high 19 points, six rebounds) and the competition’s individual points leader through one week, Natasha Cloud (12 points, team-high seven assists).
Odyssey Sims had scored the final five points of an 8-0 run for her team that made it 70-69 in their favor. Kiki Herbert Harrigan, who made three triples in a first quarter that Team Sims won 26-24, later knocked down a three to put Team Sims up 75-72.
A Sims layup to open the third put her team up 46-39, but Team Carrington answered with an 8-0 run and went on to lead by as much as seven in the frame. Back-to-back Jackson threes at the 5:05 and 4:43 marks of the period took the score from 48-48 to 54-48 in favor of Team Carrington.
In defeat, Team Sims was at least able to win not just the first quarter, but also the second (18-15) to earn 100 points for all its players.
Lavender (six rebounds, three steals), Jackson and Destinee Walker (Notre Dame) all scored nine points for the winners.
Sims dropped a game-high 24 points and dished out a game-high eight assists. Teammate Kalani Brown was difficult to stop inside at times and finished with 20 points. Herbert Harrigan had 12 points, nine boards and two blocks.
Team Russell over Team Mitchell, 79-71
Team Mitchell made Team Russell sweat late, but a 5-0 run featuring four points from Taj Cole (Georgia) increased Russell’s lead to 10 with 37 seconds remaining and that sealed the deal.
Cole, who entered the contest averaging 22.5 points per game, was quiet for most of the game, but racked up eight points in the fourth to finish with 14. She is seventh in the individual race with 990 special points, which consists of team quarters won, team games won, MVPs won and all individual stats, not just points.
Team Russell got 80 percent of its scoring from four players: Mercedes Russell (20 points), Lexie Brown (16), Cole and Laurin Mincy (Maryland, 13).
L. Brown added nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, Russell added seven boards and four helpers and Cole was good for five helpers.
L. Brown finished Week 1 second in the individual race and Russell finished fourth, so they will be split up next week as team captains. Third place went to Isabelle Harrison. Jantel Lavender is currently fifth and Danni McCray (Team Russell, Ole Miss) is sixth.
Mincy opened the game with back-to-back threes and Team Russell went on to lead 22-6. However, Team Mitchell won the second 23-14 and trailed by just four at halftime.
In the third, Team Russell led by as much as 12 (57-45 at the 3:33 mark), but Team Mitchell again fought back, this time with a 6-0 run.
Team Russell led by at least seven from the start of the fourth until Danielle McCray (Kansas) cut it to five with a layup at 1:18 remaining. That’s when Team Russell went on its game-sealing 5-0 run.
Tianna Hawkins was Team Mitchell’s best player with a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double. Teammate Rebecca Harris nearly registered a double-double with 13 points and eight boards. Harris scored eight points in the fourth, including back-to-back threes that cut her team’s deficit from 13 to seven with 1:52 to play.
Earlier in the week
Team Carrington beat Team Russell 110-104 in a double-overtime thriller on Friday. For the winners: DiJonai Carrington had 30 points and eight rebounds, Natasha Cloud had 19 points and 15 assists, Isabelle Harrison had 20 points and 10 boards and Jantel Lavender had 14 points and 10 boards. In defeat, Taj Cole had 24 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Also on Friday, Kalani Brown (32 points) and Odyssey Sims (31) both went off for 30-plus and Sims added 12 assists. That was in defeat against Team Mitchell, which was led by Kelsey Mitchell’s 27 points.
On Thursday, Team Carrington beat Team Mitchell 92-85 and Team Russell beat Team Sims 80-71. Natasha Cloud had one of the best performances of the day with 18 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Cloud has 1,451 points in the individual race. She's 106 ahead of L. Brown.