Denville, NJ native comes through.
Sure, it was against the Atlanta Dream, losers of eight straight. Sure, they almost blew it. But they did it. The Washington Mystics won a game, and they did it on the back of Stella Johnson.
Johnson, the third-round rookie out of Rider, led the way for Washington with 25 points including a WNBA rookie-record six made treys. You could almost say her play was… Stella(r).
Johnson wasn’t the only player to show out on Wednesday. Myisha Hines-Allen also returned to her early-season form, adding 23 points on 10/14 shooting, while the other three members of the starting lineup each had at least 12 points.
This was also a big day for the front-office, and not just because they signed Johnson less than a week prior. It’s because they won with diamonds in the rough. Of the Mystics 98 points, 64 were scored by second- and third-round picks.
More from Atlanta Dream
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, October 19: NCAA shakes up schedules, not scholarships
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 28: All-Rookie team announced
- Women’s Basketball, September 17: NCAA Hoops to start Nov. 25
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 14: Mystics are going dancing
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 10: Dream are (mathematically) stayin’ alive
The Mystics are back. Sort of.
In that same game, a star was reborn on the other side of the court: specifically, Courtney Williams, who nearly doubled her season-high output with 30 points on 3/4 shooting from deep.
After struggling to get much going in the early season, recovering from COVID-19 and struggling on short rest, Williams shined on Wednesday, also adding seven assists and eight boards.
“I’ve got my mojo going now,” Williams said. “I was feeling good, getting to my spots, getting my teammates involved. I knew it was coming sooner than later. I’ve been on the struggle bus a little bit, but shooters shoot, so I knew it was coming.”
Williams and Betnijah Laney combined to score 65 of the Dream’s 91 points, which they accredited to “listening to Beyonce during practice” on Tuesday.
Another team that has stumbled recently: the Phoenix Mercury. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix for this squad. Sure, the team has Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and most importantly, Diana Taurasi, but the trio has never seemed to connect at the same time. More often than not, at least one of the Mercury’s stars has had a bad game.
Let’s not be cynical. Phoenix still has a Big 3, as well as talented players in Bria Hartley and Sophie Cunningham who can provide valuable playoff minutes. But they have to play like a cohesive unit, and soon, if they want to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
Over on the New York Liberty, Kia Nurse leads by example. So when her shot hasn’t been falling the coaching staff has given her the green light and the confidence to keep the 3-pointers coming. It’s been a learning curve for Nurse, especially after recovering from her ankle injury, but she’s shot well in practice and has the faith of her coaches and teammates, as well as a history of sharpshooting, behind her.
Nurse has also worked on the other prong of her issues, her inner critic. Nurse has even started meditating in the Bubble in a Phil Jacksonesque move.
But she knows what we all know: Nurse is a winning basketball player, and even the best players in the world go through slumps. She can still make a difference with her energy, playmaking, and basketball IQ.
“She’s just trying a lot of things,” head coach Walt Hopkins said. “She really, really wants to contribute in that way specifically. She’s been doing a good job contributing in other ways, but I know that [shooting] in particular is the thing that she hangs her hat on. So, I’m proud of her for pulling out all of the stops. Trying to make use of everything at her disposal.”
The Chicago Sky put on a monster offensive performance, defeating the New York Liberty 101-85, as five players notched double-digit scoring performances. Azurá Stevens led the way with 25.
The Las Vegas Aces got back on track with a 99-78 win over the Connecticut Sun, with Kayla McBride contributing 25 points and A’ja Wilson adding 21.
The Seattle Storm LOST YES THEY ACTUALLY LOST AND TO WHO ELSE BUT THE Indiana Fever, led by Kennedy Burke and four others with at least 10 points. Oh yeah, and Jewell Lloyd put up 35 for the Storm. But it didn’t matter. This is probably the biggest upset of the year.
Play of the Day
It feels wrong to pick a Storm player because they just lost (which they never do). But Lloyd is that good.