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The WNBA Buckeye Report: Week 6

How Kelsey Mitchell propelled the Fever to a marquee victory and an update from Australia on Tanaya Beacham.

Chicago Sky v Indiana Fever Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s time for week 5 of the Land-Grant Holy Land WNBA Buckeye report, where we check in on the performances of Ohio State alumni in the WNBA. Let’s see where the players stand after three weeks into June.

Kelsey Mitchell

Last week, LGHL broke down why former All-American Kelsey Mitchell should be in the WNBA All-Star game. Since then, All-Star voting ended on June 20, with the league announcing the 10 starters on Wednesday, June 22. The 12 reserves for the game have their names called on June 28, which is a more likely road in Mitchell’s journey to her first WNBA All-Star game. With early voting announced on June 3, Mitchell sat in 21st place.

On the court this past week, the Indiana Fever split two games and added a familiar name for Ohio State Buckeye Women’s Basketball fans. Here are Mitchell’s performances first.

Against the Phoenix Mercury, the Fever lost 93-80, with the Mercury’s starters outscoring Indiana’s starting five 81-59. Part of those 59 points was a 26-point evening for Mitchell, adding to her current WNBA career-high of 18.8 points per game.

The second of two straight home games was a matchup against the 2021 WNBA Champions, the Chicago Sky. Mitchell had a quiet first half, scoring two points and assisting on three. Indiana returned from the locker room at halftime like a completely different team, led by Mitchell.

Down 13 points entering the third quarter, the Fever outscored Chicago by 15 points in the third to enter the final 10 minutes up two. Mitchell outshot and out-assisted every player on the court in the third quarter, scoring 10 and adding four assists.

It was how she scored the points and passed the ball that made it especially impressive. Mitchell attacked the basket the entire second half and thread the Sky defense, finding teammates. Chicago had no answer for the former Buckeye, and she made her teammates better. Rookie forward NaLyssa Smith, out of Baylor University, had a season-high 26 points and 11 rebounds thanks to the distribution of Mitchell.

Mitchell added two more assists in the fourth quarter, rounding out her most complete performance of the week, scoring 13 points and adding nine assists. Indiana stunned Chicago 89-87 for their fourth win of the season.

The familiar name joining the Fever is former LSU guard Khayla Pointer. In Ohio State’s dominant second-round victory over the Tigers, Pointer was the lone LSU player with a big performance, scoring 32 points in the 79-64 Buckeye victory.

Jantel Lavender

For Lavender and the Storm, there isn’t a lot to report this week. Seattle lost to the Connecticut Sun and beat the New York Liberty, and Lavender played just under 19 combined minutes across the two games. In Seattle’s first of the week, Lavender made one shot on five attempts, with a stat sheet of two points and no rebounds, steals, or assists.

Lavender played most of her minutes, 13:07, in the victory over the Liberty. While the former Ohio State forward didn’t score any points for the Storm, she contributed two rebounds and an assist on their way to an 81-72 victory.

Bonus Buckeyes

At this point in the weekly report, the exploits of forward Tanaya Beacham are shared from down under. The 2021-22 Big Ten Champion joined the Sunshine Coast Phoenix of NBL1 after finishing her college eligibility with Ohio State. Beacham appears to be no longer on the team’s roster, although the Youngstown, Ohio native started every game with the Phoenix and last played on June 4, scoring 11 points and grabbing 20 rebounds.

The NBL1 removed Beacham from their league website. There’s no word on the reason for the exit but it looks like Beacham’s time with the Phoenix is over.