The WNBA completed its fourth week of competition. After a month of games, both former Buckeyes are either working through changes in leadership or roster. Each continued to see significant time on the court leading into the summer.
Forward Jantel Lavender’s Seattle Storm finally returned players from Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19. Before guard Sue Bird and forward Ezi Magbegor rejoined for Seattle’s Sunday game, Lavender made what could be the last start for a while.
On June 3, the Storm welcomed the Dallas Wings to Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. Lavender didn’t fare well offensively, scoring two points but contributing with six rebounds. The forward’s lone-made shot came in the first quarter as Seattle couldn’t cut a 21-13 first-quarter surge by the Wings in a 68-51 defeat.
Seattle hoped that the return of Bird and Magbegor would propel the team back to their four-game winning streak. Unfortunately for the 2020 WNBA Champions, Sunday’s game against the Connecticut Sun proved to be too tough a task.
The Storm entered the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, again on their homecourt, but the Sun surged. Connecticut scored 32 points in the final quarter, beating Seattle 93-86. Again, Lavender scored two points, but in 10 fewer minutes than in Seattle’s loss to Dallas.
The Indiana Fever entered the fourth week of the season with their new interim coach and their third win of the season. Kelsey Mitchell and her rookie-filled team couldn’t keep the momentum in their favor and lost all three Week 4 games.
To their credit, two of the three games came against tough competition. First came at home against the Washington Mystics. Mitchell, coming off her Eastern Conference Player of the Week award, scored 26 and assisted on four.
Indiana entered halftime up 46-38, with Mitchell adding 15, but the Fever couldn’t hold on in the second half. Washington outscored Indiana by 20 in the second half on their way to a 87-75 victory.
The toughest defeat was Friday, against the New York Liberty. In Brooklyn, New York, the Liberty had a 1-7 record and lost by 31 points just four days earlier, against the Storm. Again, the Fever had a halftime lead. Up seven, New York had a rare early season surge of offense. Indiana made it easier for the home team too, scoring only eight points in the fourth quarter, ultimately losing 87-74. Mitchell scored nine of her 17 points in the second half.
Sunday, the Fever ended their week in Atlanta, taking on the Atlanta Dream. In 2021, the Dream ended the season near the bottom of the standings. In 2022, Atlanta is a whole different team. The Dream allowed the least amount of opponent points and the lowest field goal percentage in the WNBA, and it showed on Sunday.
Atlanta and Indiana both play a high-tempo game, but early on neither team could find their stride offensively. On top of that, each team committed 11 turnovers in the first half alone. The Dream were up 29-26 going into halftime, with Mitchell scoring five in the first 20 minutes.
The second half brought better shooting, but more so on Atlanta’s side of the court. Mitchell added another 15 points for 20 on the day in a 75-66 defeat. Indiana’s record sits at 3-10, putting the Midwest side in last place in the league.
Former Ohio State guard Kierstan Bell made two appearances in week four, from a substitute role. Bell played 9:29 combined minutes but didn’t score a point on 0-for-1 shooting. The Alliance, Ohio native didn’t add any rebounds or assists.
Bell continues pushing for a stronger place with the Las Vegas Aces. Entering two close games, Las Vegas beat the Connecticut Sun and Wings by eight and six points respectively, is a step in the right direction. Now Bell has to capitalize on those minutes.
Recent Ohio State graduate Tanaya Beacham played once with the Sunshine Coast Phoenix last week. While the Phoenix lost 81-74 to the Northside Wizards, it wasn’t because of a down night for Beacham. The forward scored 14 points and had a season-high in rebounds, grabbing 20. Beacham averages 11.75 points and 9.25 rebounds in her first professional season following her 21/22 B1G Championship-winning season.