WNBA Weekly Wrap: Laney steps up for Liberty, Lynx win four straight

Published July 5, 2021, 8:20 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

Betnijah Laney helped carry the load for the New York Liberty, while the Minnesota Lynx grabbed their fourth straight win and fifth in six games.

This weekly wrap covers the games from June 29 to July 4 (PHT). Check out last week's edition here.

Game of the Week

Two teams in need of wins, the New York Liberty and the Washington Mystics, showed exactly that in their matchup in the past week.

The Mystics got to an early lead that went as high as 20, with the league’s top scorer Tina Charles leading the way. It was the Tina Charles Revenge Game. After being traded to Washington last year, the former Liberty returned to New York and got buckets, as she does. Charles leads the league in scoring with 25.8 points per game.

Liberty fought back, though. Betnijah Laney’s scoring, Jazmine Jones’ hustle, and Sabrina Ionescu’s passing chopped Washington’s lead until there was no lead to speak of.

Charles was her usual dominant self, dropping 31 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. But it was Laney’s 19 points that came in perfect timing.

The big turnaround happened at the three-minute mark of the fourth, when Ionescu hit a huge 3 to give New York the lead for the first time since the first quarter. New York held a one-point lead in the final seconds, and Washington missed several go-ahead chances. 

Team in the spotlight

The Minnesota Lynx have won four straight games, two at the expense of the Phoenix Mercury.

In those two wins over Phoenix, Kayla McBride showed why she’s one of the more lethal shooters in the league, averaging 25 points and shooting 9-of-13 from 3.

While McBride handled business on the offensive end, it was the inside presence of rebounding machine and rim protector Sylvia Fowles that closed the deal on the other end.

Fowles is having a phenomenal year with averages of 17 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks per game.

Minnesota started the season 0-4 but now find themselves with the league’s fourth best record with a 9-7 win-loss record.

Big-time ballers

Aside from eradicating big leads, Betnijah Laney has been consistently good for the New York Liberty. With Natasha Howard out and Sabrina Ionescu not at a hundred percent, last season’s Most Improved Player stepped it up.

She’s averaging a career high 19.7 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. Add her 5.3 assists and you’ve got a New York team with good odds of making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. 

Laney recently earned her first All-Star selection because now she’s got everyone’s attention.

The Phoenix Mercury have lost six of their last 10, but not without a couple of historic milestones for their stars.

Diana Taurasi recently returned from injury and became the first WNBA player ever to score 9,000 points. Another Mercury player, Skylar Diggins, made history of her own by becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 3,000 career points, 1,000 assists, and 200 steals.

Diggins was also selected as a member of the US women’s Olympic basketball squad for the first time.

Watch out for…

What could possibly be the biggest game in WNBA history. For the first-time ever, the All-Star Game will feature a selection of WNBA superstars and the USA women’s national team.

On July 15, the biggest names in women’s basketball take the court for an exhibition game. Team WNBA will be coached by Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson while Team USA will be coached by legend Dawn Staley.

Imagine the matchups:

Team WNBA: DeWanna Bonner, Liz Cambage, Kahleah Copper, Dearica Hamby, Brionna Jones, Jonquel Jones, Betnijah Laney, Arike Ogunbowale, Candace Parker, Satou Sabally, Courtney Vandersloot, Courtney Williams

Team USA: Ariel Atkins, Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Napheesa Collier, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowles, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, A’ja Wilson


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