Scoring fireworks, fired off by Tianna Hawkins, highlighted Week 2 of Athletes Unlimited action at Sport Center of Las Vegas.
Hawkins, recently reminted as a Washington Mystic, tapped into some scoring magic, setting the league single-game scoring record in back-to-back games.
A member of Team Brown, Hawkins established a then record of 38 points in Friday’s opening game (Game 9), going 14-of-18 from the field. She poured in 17 of her points in the fourth quarter, giving Team Brown the 98-85 victory over Team Russell.
After the game, Hawkins, who, of course, earned MVP 1 honors, shared, “I was definitely feeling it, my teammates did a good job of finding me in transition, on the pops, the rolls – if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have 38.”
Lexie Brown, the captain of Team Brown, said of Hawkins, “I knew Tianna could shoot, I didn’t know she could shoot like that.”
Before Hawkins’ fourth-quarter outburst, Team Russell remained in close contact with Team Brown, trailing just 66-62 entering the final period. Captain Mercedes Russell netted 17 points for her squad. Kelsey Mitchell was named MVP 2 after adding 13 points. Taj Cole, a member of Team Brown who parlayed her breakout play in Week 1 into a training camp contract with the Connecticut Sun, was named MVP 3, contributing 23 points and six assists.
In Saturday’s second game (Game 12), Hawkins again showed Brown, and everyone else, that she can shoot.
She poured in 46 points, going 20-of-27 from the field for another MVP 1 performance. She also snagged 10 boards in helping Team Brown secure an undefeated 3-0 Week 2 with the 97-84 win over Team Cloud.
13 points from Essence Carson, 11 points from captain Lexie Brown and a team-wide 59.4-percent shooting performance from the floor also allowed Team Brown to take down Team Cloud, which finished with a record of 1-2 for Week 2.
DiJonai Carrington, who was named MVP 3, led Team Cloud with 28 points, with Destinee Walker, who earned MVP 2, adding 22 points. Captain Natasha Cloud nearly had a triple-double, posting 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Hawkins’ excellence vaulted her to the top of the points table (2,849 points). She will serve as the captain of gold for Week 3. Brown (2,676 points) will again serve as captain of orange. Cloud (2,591 points) will captain blue, while Isabelle Harrison (2,387 points) will take control of purple.
Saturday’s other action
Team Harrison over Team Russell, 100-74
Behind balanced scoring, Team Harrison doled out the first blowout of the inaugural Athletes Unlimited season in Saturday’s first game (Game 11), thumping Team Russell, 100-74.
Jantel Lavender, Odyssey Sims, Dominque Wilson, Courtney Williams and Akela Maize all scored in double figures for Team Harrison, led by 17 points apiece for Lavender and Sims. Lavender also grabbed eight boards, while Williams dished out 10 assists for a 14-point, 10-assist double-double.
The game was closely contested until midway through the second quarter, when Team Harrison reeled off a 26-6 run from which Team Russell would never recover. Team Harrison finished Week 2 with a 2-1 record, while Team Russell was 0-3.
MVP 1 went to Lavender, MVP 2 was earned by Akela Mazie and MVP 3 honors were Mercedes Russell’s — she led her team with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Friday’s other action
Team Harrison over Team Cloud, 95-89
Because she missed Week 1 while in COVID protocols, Williams was primed to unleash a classic Courtney Williams game, getting buckets from all over to floor as she led Team Harrison back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and captured MVP 1 honors.
Team Cloud’s DiJonai Carrington said of her new Connecticut teammate:
I know Courtney had a fire lit under her just because of being out last week, and you saw that on display today. When great players get hot, all you can do is try to make their shots tough. We had some lapses on defense, some missed rotations, missed getting back in transition, but people were making tough shots as well.
Carrington led Team Cloud with 24 points. This number was matched by opposing captain Isabelle Harrison, who also had eights boards and was named MVP 2. The MVP 3 also went to Team Harrison, as Dominique Wilson, with her 17 points, earned the honor.
Whole lotta smiles coming from Team Harrison after that win pic.twitter.com/3FwcoODzJD— Athletes Unlimited (@AUProSports) February 5, 2022
Team Brown over Team Harrison, 83-76
In the opening game of Week 2 (Game 7), Team Brown used the deep ball to secure the dub, draining nine 3-pointers on the way to an 83-76 win over Team Harrison. Maintaining a lead for much of the game, Team Brown tended to cash in with timely buckets whenever Team Harrison threatened.
Hinting at her scoring outbursts that were to come, Tianna Hawkins led Team Brown with 21 points, while Lexie Brown, the captain, had 17 points and Essence Carson added 15 points. Carson and Hawkins were MVP 1 and MVP 2, respectively.
Team Brown needed such shooting and scoring to overcome the 29-point, 12-rebound double-double of Team Harrison’s captain. For her efforts, Isabelle Harrison earned MVP 3 honors.
Team Cloud over Team Russell, 105-94
The second game of Week 2 (Game 8) offered a reprise of a dynamic that emerged in Week 1: The Cloud-Carrington Show.
After developing instant, enviable chemistry with DiJonai Carrington in Week 1, captain Natasha Cloud made sure the soon-to-be Connecticut Sun sophomore was on her squad.
Cloud, the overall points leader after Week 1, dropped 30 points, as her partner in crime, Carrington, chipped in 21. The pairing powered Team Cloud to a 16-0 late third-quarter run that helped the team take down Team Russell, 105-94. Cloud and Carrington would earn MVP 1 and MVP 3 honors, respectively.
On her compatibility with Cloud, Carrington shared:
It’s something you can’t really describe … it seems like we’ve played together for a while, and believe it or not this is the first time we’ve ever played together. I think that just speaks to how great of a point guard she is, that she puts the ball on the money and allows me to thrive. I like to run and she likes to push the ball so it’s a great partnership.
Kalani Brown also was crucial to Team Cloud’s victory, adding 17 points and seven rebounds.
Captain Mercedes Russell led her team with a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double. Kelsey Mitchell, who was named MVP 2, had 17 points for Team Russell.