Your Day in Women’s Basketball, July 27: Sky sink Aces

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Allie Quigley #14 of the Chicago Sky shoots for two against the Los Angeles Sparks in a WNBA game at Staples Center on August 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Allie Quigley #14 of the Chicago Sky shoots for two against the Los Angeles Sparks in a WNBA game at Staples Center on August 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images) /

A remarkable first few days

If you didn’t watch 12 hours of basketball this weekend:

a) I’m so sorry, and,
b) I’ve got you covered

First and foremost: Allie Quigley had her Kodak moment. While Saturday’s slate of game rolled through without any competitive final frames, Chicago and Las Vegas made sure to keep it close. This game, though, was destined to come down to the wire. Remember what happened last year?

The Sky were looking for revenge. They got it. And boy, was it cathartic to watch.

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With 15 seconds left on the clock, Quigley sidestepped her defender in the corner and launched the game-winning three to put the nail in the Aces coffin.

The weekend tipped off with “The Rook” versus “One of the greatest teams of the past five years,” and believe it or not, the rook struggled! The Storm threw everything they had at Sabrina in her debut and held her to just 12 points. It won’t be the last time she faces a tropical storm like this, but its a sign of respect that she’ll face coverage like that, this early. And Ionescu isn’t one to back down from a challenge.

But enough about Sabrina! The unsung savior of New York might be signee Layshia Clarendon, who “went hella hard” according to teammate Amanda Zahui B.

Oh yeah, and on the Storm’s side: Breanna Stewart is back to MVP form and they still look like title favorites. If you were curious.

The game also set the stage for the WNBA’s social messaging as both teams honored the life of Breonna Taylor and stressed the importance of using their platforms to do so.

The Phoenix Mercury were back in action with their fresh-faced Big 3, ready to prove me and my second-place-prediction right. At halftime, they looked like they might, just a couple possessions behind the Sparks.

Of course, the Phoenix defense got absolutely trounced in the second half. Here’s to hoping the loss is bulletin board material for the soon-to-be 22-1 Mercury.

And how about those Sparks?! This is the same team my model predicted would finish 9th, (I knew it would be wrong, but this wrong?), so that’s pretty embarrassingNneka Ogwumike looks like an early Tier-1 MVP candidate and didn’t seem to struggle without Chiney out on the court. The Sparks will be fine if she goes 8-for-8 from the floor in every game, and should be in title contention this year.

Speaking of champions: Did we count the Mystics out too soon? Myisha Hines-Allen dropped 27 points for the defending champs (she had 63 all of last season!) and carried Washington to a resounding victory over the Fever, who were still finding their footing.

What we thought would be a skeleton of the championship team is looking more like a phantom. This squad is scary.

The Minnesota Lynx and Connecticut Sun played a competitive game on Sunday, with the Sun holding onto a narrow lead for much of the game before the Lynx got their act together in the final six minutes. Just like that, Sylvia Fowles and Crystal Dangerfield hit their stride and all of Connecticut’s hard work was undone.

On the Sun’s bright side, Dewanna Bonner was fantastic in her Connecticut debut and Alyssa Thomas still looked like the never-ending engine of the team.

The revamped Atlanta Dream squared off against the Dallas Wings in the weekend’s final matchup. Atlanta was led by Monique Billings, who scored a league-high 30 points this weekend. Fun fact: The weekend’s two leading scorers, Billings and Hines-Allen, combined to score 7.8 PPG last year. That should tell you all you need to know about the year that lays ahead.

Chennedy Carter had the best rookie debut from the 2020 class, dropping 18 points and showing off the scoring prowess that made the Dream snag her at pick No. 4. On the Wings side, young stars Allisha Gray and Tyasha Harris brought their A+ chemistry from South Carolina and combined for 32 points. When those two are out there, the Wings offense is just fluid.

What a weekend. Basketball is back.

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