The Weekly Roundup: The Gold Mamba Does it Again and Jonquel Jones’ MVP-Caliber Play Continues
Recapping yet another classic game concluding with a Jewell Loyd buzzer-beater and recognizing the three best performances of the week
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Last week’s WNBA action featured four overtime games, a game-winning three, and a slam dunk. In a classic “hold my beer” moment, this week contained two overtime games, two game-winning buzzer-beaters, a game-winning three in the final second, and another slam dunk. In a week defined by heart-stopping finishes, it’s only natural to start with the WNBA’s Kardiac Kids, the Seattle Storm.
Game of the Week: Loyd’s last-second three lifts Seattle to another OT win
Tell me if you’ve heard this before. Seattle has the ball with 0.8 seconds remaining in the game. Noelle Quinn draws up a play in the huddle. Jewell Loyd catches the inbounds pass, launches a three, and knocks down a game-winning buzzer-beater. Sound familiar? Loyd did it last September against Los Angeles; she did it again Friday night at Dallas giving the Storm a thrilling 105-102 overtime victory. Such Kobe-esque clutch performances leave little doubt as to why fans call Jewell Loyd the Gold Mamba.
“Who doesn’t want to hit a buzzer-beater? I mean, you practice it all the time as a kid,” Loyd responded when asked about her ability to knock down buzzer-beaters. “That’s how I grew up in the parks, always counting in my head ‘5, 4, 3, 2, 1, shoot’ and in my room with the toy hoops...I visualized myself in these big moments trying to execute.”
Reminiscent of Seattle’s 100-97 overtime win over Dallas on May 22, Friday night’s contest was another wildly entertaining and offense-oriented slugfest. For a game that featured two of the league’s top three teams in offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) and the W’s top two teams in fast-break points, it’s pretty easy to understand why. Seattle and Dallas combined for 111 first-half points; tallied 207 total points, the most in the league since Chicago and Connecticut on September 6, 2019; and accumulated a whopping 50 fast-break points.
However, in a role reversal from their last meeting, Friday it was Dallas that staged a late fourth-quarter comeback to force overtime. Trailing 94-86 with 2:03 remaining in regulation and just a 0.7% chance to win, the Wings rattled off eight straight points to knot the game up at 94. A picture-perfect give-and-go between Loyd and Breanna Stewart momentarily gave Seattle a 96-94 lead with 19.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Then Satou Sabally, not the most prolific three-point shooter last season in the Wubble (19.7% from distance), drained a go-ahead three with 6.9 seconds on the clock. Or was it a three? That was the call on the court; however, game officials judged that there was the irrefutable evidence necessary to change the call to a two-pointer. A chaotic final possession produced no offense, sending these two teams to yet another overtime classic.
Loyd finished with a game-high 25 points on an efficient 8-11 from the field (including 4-6 from beyond the arc) and added seven rebounds. Stewart filled up the stat sheet with 23 points, nine boards, five assists, two steals, and two blocks. Stephanie Talbot dropped 21 points (just three off of her career high), Mercedes Russell (12 points, nine rebounds) finished just one rebound shy of a double-double, and Sue Bird dished out ten assists.
Making a strong early bid for Most Improved Player, Marina Mabrey got off to a blistering start scoring 16 points in the opening 13:31. While she cooled off in the second half, Mabrey led Dallas with 24 points on 10-17 shooting from the field. Arike Ogunbowale added 22 points and eight assists. Fresh off their return from 3x3 competition overseas, Sabally and Allisha Gray provided a critical boost off the bench, combining for 33 points.
The Storm and Wings ran it back in Seattle last night and, perhaps fatigued from back-to-back games, combined for the third-lowest scoring output of any game this season. For what Sunday’s game lacked in offensive firepower, it more than made up for in last-second heroics. With Dallas down 67-65, Arike Ogunbowale pulled off her best Jewell Loyd impression (or did Jewell pull off her best Arike impression?) and drilled a triple with 0.7 seconds left in the game, snapping the Storm’s six-game winning streak.
Can these teams just play forever? Of course not. But after two overtime games, one buzzer-beating three, and another game-winning three, I don’t think a playoff match-up is too much to ask.
The Storm are back in action Wednesday night when they take on Atlanta; Dallas travels to Phoenix for its next game Tuesday night against a Diana Taurasi-less Mercury squad.
Three Stars of the Week
It’s only logical that the reigning league Most Valuable Player and the early front-runner for this year’s MVP feature prominently in the latest installment of Three Stars of the Week. Sorry, no honorable mentions this week; there were just too many single-game efforts worthy of being mentioned. And yes, that’s a blatant cop-out, but frankly the existence of an honorable mention section is a bit of a cop-out to begin with. So, with that internal struggle resolved, here are the three best single-game performances of the past week!
Third Star: Myisha Hines-Allen - 32 points and 13 rebounds vs. Las Vegas on 6/5
In order to have a realistic shot at a second WNBA title, the Washington Mystics need significant contributions from Tina Charles, Ariel Atkins, Elena Delle Donne, and Myisha Hines-Allen. The trio of Charles, Atkins, and Hines-Allen combined for a whopping 77 points against Las Vegas. However, Washington learned Saturday that while three out of four is pretty darn good, it’s likely not enough when up against the cream of the WNBA crop.
Three games into the WNBA season and immediately following her season overseas in France, Hines-Allen still hadn’t had that performance indicative of a player who finished runner-up to Betnijah Laney for Most Improved Player last season. Granted, she had posted two consecutive double-doubles entering Saturday afternoon’s game, but Hines-Allen averaged just 13.0 points in the two games and shot a combined 10-29 from the field. This coming from a player who averaged 22.7 points per game in the Mystics’ final six regular-season contests last year. Hines-Allen broke out in a big way Saturday with a monster stat line of 32 points and 13 rebounds, her third straight double-double.
Second Star: Jonquel Jones - 31 points (12-16 FG) and 13 rebounds vs. New York on 6/5
Here’s why fans in Mohegan Sun Arena are chanting MVP at Jonquel Jones:
1st in win shares per 40 minutes (0.37)
1st in player efficiency rating (31.5)
1st in rebounds per game (10.4)
3rd in total rebounding rate (19.4%)
4th in points per game (21.6)
4th in points per scoring attempt (1.37)
5th in three-point percentage (48.9%) - and Jones is 8th in the league in made three-pointers, so no, this is not purely an artifact of a tiny sample size.
However, this is a list recognizing the best single-game performances of the week, so let’s dive into her performance in Connecticut’s blowout win against New York on Saturday. She feasted on the Liberty frontcourt to the tune of 31 points and 13 rebounds while knocking down an efficient 75% of her field goals. Her 10 points during a 15-0 Connecticut run transformed a tight 37-37 contest against New York into a runaway for the Sun. More impressively, only nine other players in WNBA history have put together a 30-point, 10-rebound, and 75% field goal performance.
Sun fans will get a sense of just how valuable Jones is when she misses the next four to six games while she participates for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the FIBA EuroBasket tournament from June 17-27.
First Star: A’ja Wilson - 30 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks at New York on 6/3
The 2020 league MVP earns the First Star this week for her impressive stat line as well as her work down the stretch Thursday night in the Aces 94-82 win over New York at the Barclays Center. Just four other players in WNBA history have managed a 30-point, 10-rebound, five-assist, and three-block effort. With the Liberty threatening late in the fourth quarter, Las Vegas used an 8-1 run to convert an 80-79 lead to a more comfortable 88-80 advantage, effectively putting the game out of reach. A’ja Wilson had a hand in seven of the eight points, scoring four and assisting on the dagger three by Riquna Williams.
Adam’s Week 4 Power Rankings
Check out the Her Hoop Stats Twitter page (@herhoopstats) tomorrow for our week 4 power rankings! Once again, we will base these on the votes of a panel of Her Hoop Stats contributors. As an additional note of clarification, we rank teams based on who would win in a hypothetical match-up tomorrow on a neutral court. For example, I would have ranked Connecticut higher; however, Jonquel Jones’ absence knocked the Sun down a spot or two.
Here is my ballot this week:
WNBA schedule this week (All times Eastern)
Here is a full listing of this week’s games, start times, and where you can catch the action.
Her Hoop Stats content in case you missed it
In an important read, Calvin Wetzel investigated the allegations of racism in the Lenoir-Rhyne University women’s basketball program.
Calvin broke down how to evaluate sports bettors’ performance and detailed how his own picks from “Wetz Betz” have fared to date in the latest installment of his series on sports betting.
In this week’s edition of WNBA Dissected, Richard Cohen took a close look at the Chicago-Dallas trade and discussed the Seattle Storm coaching situation.
With a 10-point lead and 3:13 remaining in the game, the Chicago Sky had a 99.6% chance of winning against the Phoenix Mercury Tuesday night per the website inpredictable.com. In the WNBA Minute, Gabe Ibrahim analyzed how Phoenix pulled off one of the most improbable comebacks this season.
Other recommended content
In a piece that demonstrates how our society often fails to understand the far-reaching impacts of sexual assault, Tim Graham of The Athletic investigated why the New York State Public High School Athletic Association ruled 15-year-old Holland High basketball player Kierra Kline ineligible for play this past winter.
For Just Women’s Sports, Hannah Withiam spoke with Kate Johnson, Google’s director of partnerships and sports media, about the tech giant’s multi-year agreement as a WNBA Changemaker.
The Seattle Storm elevated Noelle Quinn to head coach after Dan Hughes announced his retirement last week. For Swish Appeal, Cat Ariail discussed the significance of this hiring.
For VICE, Britni de la Cretaz wrote about the alarming frequency with which broadcasters and announcers mispronounce players’ names in the WNBA and the importance of addressing this issue.
On the New York Times podcast Sway, host Kara Swisher spoke with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert about the gender gap in sports and how to continue the league’s recent growth.
Women’s professional basketball trivia questions of the week
The answers to last week’s questions will be posted on Twitter @herhoopstats. Here are this week’s questions - good luck!
Easier: What word appears most prominently on the front of the Nike Rebel Edition alternate uniforms for the New York Liberty and the Washington Mystics (i.e., looking for two different words: one for New York and one for Washington)?
More Difficult: The WNBA first moved to its current playoff format (i.e., eight teams, double byes for top two seeds, single bye for No. 3 and No. 4 seeds) in 2016. Under this format, who is the only team to reach the Finals without being one of the top two seeds?
Ken Jennings-Level: Founded in 1978, the Women’s Professional Basketball League was the first women’s professional basketball league in the United States. Along with Molly Bolin, who earned co-MVP honors during the WPBL’s 1980 season? Quite the trailblazer, the individual in question was also the first woman signed to a four-year athletic scholarship in college.