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Results for January 2015

Skylar Diggins Offers Inside Look to Her Basketball Life With Camp Tour

Skylar Diggins Offers Inside Look to Her Basketball Life With Camp Tour

BAYONNE, NJ -- When Skylar Diggins attended basketball camps at a young age, she would dream that one day she would be running a camp of her own.

That once somewhat lofty notion is now a reality. Diggins, coming off a sophomore season in the WNBA where she was named an All-Star and won the Most Improved Player Award, has embarked on a series of camps -- the Reach 4 the Sky Basketball Camp Tour -- that will travel to five different cities from December to April.

The most recent camp was in Bayonne, NJ where the Tulsa Shock guard hosted approximately 70 campers at Marist High School. Diggins organizes and runs the camp with her stepfather, Mo Scott, who was also her former AAU and high school coach.

"The crazy thing is when she was a little girl we would go to these camps all over and one thing we used to say was, one of these days it’s going to be you running the camp," Scott said. "I bet a lot of people say it, but she really believed that."

This was the second of Diggins’ camps this year -- the other stops are Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Tulsa; Chicago was the first camp in December -- but her impact is already evident at at the camp. In fact, it appears she's been planning even the smallest details for quite some time.

"She would say things like 'I don't want pizza at my camps, I want sandwiches'," said Scott, turkey sub in hand.

In addition to a hand-picked menu, the campers, ranging from second grade to 12th grade, received a sneak peak into Diggins' basketball upbringing.

"This is a camp to let people inside to how I worked out, the drills that I did, and the people that I learned from," said Diggins, in between commenting on the 5-on-5 scrimmages on the floor. "I brought a lot of people from my city, a lot of my family are around to help me with this camp and I just want it to be really intimate and be able to be personal with each child and reach out and talk to them."

As for her participation, Diggins also had a clear vision.

"I know there were some questions if I was even going to be here because you see a lot of these camps where people just come at the end and then they just take pictures and do a Q&A," Diggins said. "But I wanted to be really hands on with this camp and be a part of it and be here the whole time and on the floor.

So far it’s been a success."

In between doling out instructions and encouragement, Diggins constantly stopped to take pictures with her idolizing campers -- her role equal parts set shot and selfie.

"The fact that it’s here right now and people are coming out and wearing my headband and showing me pictures of their phones with me on their wallpaper, it’s a surreal feeling," she said.

Scott called the amount of adulation directed towards his stepdaughter "humbling" and the two are proud to share their love for the game of basketball with a wide audience. Diggins even hopes to expand the tour to even more cities in the years to come.

"It’s great, especially coming from Indiana. We eat and sleep basketball and learning under (Scott), him being my coach in AAU, my coach in high school, all the way up, it’s good to have him be a part of it because he was such a huge part of my development," Diggins said. "I asked him to be a part of these so he could be even a small part of their development."

Now that Diggins has seen her basketball journey take her all the way to the WNBA, is Scott still acting as a coach for her?

"This is what we do. I don’t say anything. I don’t coach from the stands," Scott said. "Just after the games she’ll have 100 text messages saying do this, do this, do this. That way she can’t turn me off. I know she has to read her texts."

Despite all of her appearances and the brands she now endorses -- one of her newest products, Body Armor, had a presence at the camp -- training is still the top priority for Diggins. She says her schedule still revolves around her training, but that she'll take every oppprtunity to host a camp like she did in Bayonne.

"This is something that I am very passionate about and everybody that knows me knows I was born with a passion for children and for helping and giving back so this is not something I do to make money, this is something I want to do," she said.

"I love to travel, I love basketball and I love kids, so it’s just something that fit perfectly."

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Chiney Ogwumike Undergoes Knee Surgery

Chiney Ogwumike Undergoes Knee Surgery

Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike underwent microfracture surgery Thursday on her right knee.

Ogwumike is expected to make a full recovery and typical rehab is 6 to 9 months. The league's rookie of the year averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while playing in 31 games for the Sun this past season. Ogwumike led all rookies in double-doubles (13) and was second in the WNBA in offensive rebounds (123).

"This is new territory for my family and I, but I am not one to shy away from challenges," Ogwumike said. "I have met every life challenge with an optimistic point of view, therefore this is an obstacle I know I will overcome. I have the best support system, both personally and professionally, so I know I will emerge from this experience a more confident and determined player."

The WNBA rookie of the year averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while playing in 31 games for the Sun this past season. Ogwumike led all rookies in double-doubles (13) and was second in the WNBA in offensive rebounds (123).

She was playing in Italy this winter where she was averaging 25.3 points and 13.1 rebounds in seven games. The first pick in last year's WNBA draft has been pretty healthy throughout her basketball career. She missed a few games this past season while playing for the Sun because of an abscessed tooth.

Ogwumike had the surgery in Texas and it was performed by Walter Lowe, the team doctor of the Houston Texans and Houston Rockets. Lowe also performed the surgery on Texans No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney.

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Liberty Rename Laimbeer Head Coach

Liberty Rename Laimbeer Head Coach

NEW YORK, NY -- January 8, 2015 -- The New York Liberty has renamed three-time WNBA champion and WNBA coach of the year recipient Bill Laimbeer as the team's head coach. Previously, Laimbeer held the position of head coach and general manager for the Liberty during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

"Our goal is to ensure that the Liberty return to their position as one of the most consistently competitive and successful teams in the WNBA," said Kristin Bernert, Senior Vice President, Business Operations, New York Liberty. "We spent a great deal of time on how to move forward to ensure both immediate and long term success, and kept coming back to Bill. He’s had tremendous success in the WNBA, and we are confident that he is the right coach to help deliver a winning franchise for our fans."

In his two seasons with the Liberty, Laimbeer compiled a 26-42 overall record, while strengthening the team’s roster, most notably with the acquisition of three-time All-Star center Tina Charles. Previously, Laimbeer spent eight seasons (2002-2009) with the Detroit Shock (now Tulsa Shock) as head coach and general manager, earning WNBA Coach of the Year honors in his first full season as head coach (2003). Laimbeer led the Shock to a 137-93 (.596) overall record, including six-straight playoff appearances and three WNBA Championship, in 2003, 2006 and 2008, respectively.

"I am proud to be leading the New York Liberty behind the bench, and believe that great things are ahead of us," said Laimbeer. "I came to New York talking about building a championship culture -- and remain committed to that goal as head coach. I am thrilled to get started on the upcoming season."

A 14-year NBA veteran (1980-94), Laimbeer was a four-time All-Star center for the Detroit Pistons. He totaled 13,790 points and 10,400 rebounds in his career, becoming the 19th player in NBA history to eclipse 10,000 in both categories. Laimbeer had his No. 40 retired by the franchise in 1995.

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Maya Moore Honored As 2014 USA Basketball Female Athlete Of The Year

Maya Moore Honored As 2014 USA Basketball Female Athlete Of The Year

Following a summer in which she helped lead USA Basketball to the 2014 FIBA World Championship gold medal and was named MVP of the tournament along the way, Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) today was announced as the 2014 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

"I'm so fortunate to be around the best in the world through USA Basketball," Moore said. "It was a true privilege to contribute to an awesome team again this year at the World Championship. I'm honored to have the opportunity to be named USA Basketball’s Female Athlete of the Year."

Moore started in all six games and averaged a team-high 15.3 points per game to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 24.3 minutes per contest to help the USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team to a 6-0 record and the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship from Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Istanbul, Turkey. The win qualified the USA for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

"Maya not only was a tremendous team leader for the USA during the World Championship, she also was an incredible individual performer, especially in the gold medal game," said USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director Jim Tooley. "Maya is very deserving of the 2014 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year award, and we are proud to acknowledge her incredible accomplishments."

The 2014 gold medal was Moore’s second-consecutive FIBA World Championship title, and her sixth gold medal overall with USA Basketball. USA Basketball teams with Moore on the roster have combined for a 56-2 all-time record.

"Maya is just relentless," said USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut), who was named as a 2014 USA Basketball Co-National Coach of the Year. "Her incredible level of competitiveness and the energy that she brings is second to none, and she just finds a way to be on winning teams. That (gold-medal) game against Spain is the perfect example of how valuable she is and how she can set the tone for the entire game. Maya has had an incredible pro career since she left UConn, and she had an incredible career with USA Basketball and she’s not finished yet; I’m looking forward to seeing what she does in the future."

"In the 2014 Worlds, she shot 52.9 percent from the field (37-70 FGs), 51.9 percent from 3-point (14-27 3pt FGs) and 80.0 percent from the line (4-5 FTs).

Among all participants in the 16-team field, she was tied for third in 3-point field goals made (2.33) and ranked fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.519), fourth in scoring (15.3), seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33), 11th for field goal percentage (.529), tied for 11th in assists (3.5), 15th for offensive rebounds (2.17) and tied for 17th in rebounding (6.0).

Three times she led or tied for the lead in team scoring and reached double-digit scoring in all six games, including 15 points and eight rebounds against China in the first game; a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds against Serbia; 16 points against Angola in preliminary round play; 10 points against France in the quarterfinals; 16 points against Australia in the semifinals; and 18 points against Spain in the gold medal game.

She set a USA World Championship record for 3-point percentage (.615) by shooting 3-of-4 from 3-point in the USA’s final preliminary round win over Angola.

She also helped the USA National Team to a 4-1 exhibition record in 2014 with wins over Canada (76-51, Sept. 15, Bridgeport, Conn.), Australia (72-66, Sept. 19, Paris, France) and China (99-75, Sept. 20, Paris France), a loss to France (76-72, Sept. 21, Paris, France) and a win over Czech Republic (76-41, Sept. 23, Prague, Czech Republic).

Tabbed as the 2014 WNBA MVP, an All-Star and as an All-Defensive second-team selection, Moore also earned the 2014 WNBA scoring title with a league-best 23.9 points per game.

In leading Minnesota in 2014 to a 25-9 record and the Western Conference finals, she started in all 34 games and contributed 8.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. She posted a WNBA record 12 games with 30 or more points in 2014.

During the 2014 WNBA offseason, she averaged 39.3 points per game to lead the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) in scoring and to help her team, Shanxi Flame, to a second-straight WCBA championship.

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Sparks Hire Brian Agler as Head Coach

Sparks Hire Brian Agler as Head Coach

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Sparks Executive Vice President and general manager Penny Toler today named veteran coach Brian Agler the 12th head coach in franchise history. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The all-time winningest coach in women’s professional basketball history, Agler is a veteran of the WNBA, bringing 11-years of head coaching experience and a WNBA title to the Sparks organization. He became the all-time winningest coach in 2012 when he earned his 212th career win (ABL and WNBA) to move past Van Chancellor (211), former coach of the Houston Comets. Following the 2014 WNBA season, he stands at 262 career wins (78 ABL, 184 WNBA).

"n what was a very extensive search to find a talented leader and winner to be our head coach, Brian stood out as the right person to lead the Sparks," said Toler. "A proven winner, Brian’s experience and leadership will energize our offense and challenge our defense to return the Sparks to a championship caliber team."

Agler joins the Sparks after an impressive seven-year stint leading the Seattle Storm. During his seven seasons as head coach and director of player personnel, he compiled a 136-102 record (.571) leading the team to six consecutive postseason berths (2008-2013).

"I am excited about the possibilities with the Sparks," said Agler. "I appreciate the opportunity provided to me from Penny Toler, and of course the ownership group led by Magic Johnson, Mark Walter and Stan Kasten. I am joining a franchise that has a championship heritage, a world-renowned ownership group and an internationally known brand.

"The Sparks roster is comprised of MVP’s, Olympians and All-Stars who have won championships. WNBA titles do not come easy, but as Sparks head coach I am confident that together with our talented roster we will position ourselves to compete for another WNBA championship for the city of Los Angeles."

In 2010, he led the Storm to its second championship title in team history with an impressive 28-6 regular season record and undefeated 7-0 run through the postseason. His championship and record-setting season earned him the 2010 WNBA Coach of the Year award.

Agler added, "I truly appreciate my days, friendships and experiences with the Seattle Storm. I am leaving a first class organization and wish the Storm and its fans all the best."

His WNBA experience also includes serving as head coach of the Minnesota Lynx (1999-2002) and two stints as an assistant coach with the then San Antonio Silver Stars (2005-2007) and the Phoenix Mercury (2004).

Prior to the WNBA, Agler served as head coach of the Columbus Quest of the ABL (1996-1999) where he compiled an 82-22 overall record. During his first two seasons with the Quest, he guided the team to back-to-back ABL championships (1997,1998) and was named the ABL Coach of the Year following his first title run.

His coaching experience includes 15 seasons coaching among the collegiate ranks, including 13 seasons as a head coach. From 1993-96 he served as the head women’s basketball coach at Kansas State. In 1988, Agler took over as the head women’s coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In five seasons at UMKC, Agler was 85-54 and took the Kangaroos from a 9-16 record in 1988-89 to four straight winning seasons with 17 or more victories. Under his direction, UMKC led the NCAA in scoring defense three consecutive seasons from 1990-93. In 1991, UMKC set an NCAA team record, allowing 51.8 points per game.

As the head women’s basketball coach at Northeast Oklahoma A&M Junior College from 1984-88, Agler compiled a 124-42 record (.747 winning percentage). In 1985-86, NEO A&M was ranked second nationally and posted a 30-2 record.

Agler attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where he led the Tigers to its only NCAA Division III Championship in basketball as a freshman. In 1995, he was inducted into the Wittenberg Hall of Honor. He received his master’s degree in education from Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, Kansas) in 1985. Agler and his wife Robin, have two children: Bryce and Taylor.

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Results for June 2014

Sancho Lyttle, Nneka Ogwumike Named Players of the Week

Sancho Lyttle, Nneka Ogwumike Named Players of the Week

NEW YORK, June 30, 2014 - Sancho Lyttle of the Atlanta Dream and Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks were named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played June 24 through June 29.

For Lyttle, who led Atlanta to a 2-0 mark as the Dream improved its Eastern Conference-leading record to 11-4, this marks the first Player of the Week award of the season and the third of her career. It also marks the third time this season a member of the Dream has earned Player of the Week honors. Erika de Souza garnered the award in week three, while Angel McCoughtry claimed the honor in week five.

For the week, Lyttle ranked fourth in the East in scoring (16.0 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (9.0 rpg), while also ranking in the top 10 in assists (3.0 apg), field goal percentage (.464, 13-of-28), and steals (1.5 spg).

The University of Houston product opened her week with 16 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, and a pair of assists in an 81-79 win at San Antonio on June 26. She then followed that up with another 16-point effort that included seven boards and four assists as Atlanta topped host Indiana, 76-68, on June 29.

For the season, Lyttle ranks second in the WNBA in steals (2.6 spg), fourth in rebounding (9.0 rpg), and 23rd in scoring (11.9 ppg).

En route to earning her first Player of the Week honor of the season and the third of her career, Ogwumike -- the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm and a 2013 All-Star led the Sparks to a 2-0 mark with wins over conference foes Seattle and Tulsa. For the week, Ogwumike tied for first in the West in rebounding (9.0 rpg) and free throw percentage (1.000, 8-of-8), while ranking second in scoring (21.0 ppg) and field goal percentage (.630, 17-of-27).

The former Stanford star opened the week with a 20-point, 11-rebound effort in a 65-57 home victory over Seattle on June 24. She then poured in 22 points and added seven boards in a 92-89 overtime win at Tulsa.

Following her impressive week, Ogwumike now ranks 15th in the WNBA in scoring (14.1 ppg), 12th in rebounding (7.6 rpg), and eighth in field goal percentage (.530, 70-of-132).

Other candidates for WNBA Players of the Week in the Eastern Conference were Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, Chicago’s Epiphanny Prince, Connecticut’s Chiney Ogwumike, New York’s Tina Charles, and Washington’s Emma Meesseman. Additional candidates in the Western Conference were Minnesota’s Maya Moore, Phoenix’s Brittney Griner, San Antonio’s Danielle Robinson, Seattle’s Camille Little, and Tulsa’s Skylar Diggins.

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Reeve, Cooper Named All-Star Coaches

Reeve, Cooper Named All-Star Coaches

NEW YORK, June 30, 2014 - Cheryl Reeve, head coach of the Minnesota Lynx, and Michael Cooper, head coach of the Atlanta Dream, will serve as head coaches for Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014, the WNBA announced today.

Reeve will lead the Western Conference squad and Cooper will be at the helm of the Eastern Conference team on July 19 at US Airways Center (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET). This marks the second such honor for Reeve and the third for Cooper. Reeve led the Western Conference squad in 2013 while Cooper led the West in 2002 and 2003.

Under WNBA guidelines, the coach of the previous season's conference champion serves as the All-Star coach for that conference, provided that the coach remains in the same position. With that, Reeve, who guided the Lynx to the 2013 WNBA title, has earned her spot on the West bench.

Since Fred Williams, head coach of the 2013 Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream is now at the helm in Tulsa, the East head coach was selected based on the club with the best winning percentage through games on June 29. With a current mark of 11-4 (.733), Atlanta’s Cooper has secured the honor.

Starting lineups for the game are determined by fan participation via the 2014 WNBA All-Star Balloting presented by Boost Mobile. The WNBA will announce the starters on July 8 during the nationally televised game on ESPN2 featuring the Los Angeles Sparks at the Minnesota Lynx (9 p.m. ET). Reserves, which are voted on by the WNBA’s head coaches, will be announced on ESPN2 on July 15 during the game between the Sparks and the Indiana Fever (8 p.m. ET).

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Lynx hang on to beat Storm, 74-69

Lynx hang on to beat Storm, 74-69

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Janel McCarville scored a season-high 22 points and the short-handed Minnesota Lynx beat the Seattle Storm 74-69 Sunday night.

Maya Moore added 14 points for the Lynx (12-5), who have won three of four. Devereaux Peters had 12 points and Lindsay Whalen scored 10. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota's second leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, missed the game due to bursitis in her left knee.

Sue Bird scored 21 points to lead Seattle (7-11) and Jenna O'Hea added 14.

Minnesota led by nine early in the fourth quarter before Seattle pulled within one.

Whalen made a jumper with 1:14 to go, but Angel Robinson countered down low with 51.9 seconds left to make it 69-68.

After Whalen missed a jumper with 36.9 seconds to play, Robinson was all alone underneath but missed a layup with 20.9 seconds left.

However, Whalen and Moore combined to make five free throws in the final 15.3 seconds to help the Lynx get the win.

The teams split their home-and-home series, with the Storm winning 81-71 at Seattle on Friday.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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McCoughtry has 20, Dream top Fever 76-68

McCoughtry has 20, Dream top Fever 76-68

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Angel McCoughtry scored 12 of her 20 points in the second half and the Atlanta Dream overcame some sloppy play late to escape with a 76-68 victory over the Indiana Fever on Sunday night.

A series of late turnovers cost Atlanta the lead and allowed Indiana (6-9) to go ahead 68-65 with 3:53 to play. But the Dream regrouped and McCoughtry's 3-pointer with 2:04 to play gave Atlanta (11-4) the lead for good at 70-68.

Celine Dumerc blocked Shavonte Zellous' 3-point attempt with 42.8 seconds left and sealed the victory with a layup and two free throws.

Zellous scored 18 points to continue her hot stretch. She had 33 points against Tulsa on Wednesday and 18 on Friday against Phoenix, both narrow losses.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Griner sets blocks record, Mercury top Shock 80-77

Griner sets blocks record, Mercury top Shock 80-77

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Brittney Griner blocked 11 shots to set a single-game WNBA record and added 21 points to lead the Phoenix Mercury to an 80-77 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Sunday.

''I knew I had a couple of blocks, but I didn't know how many,'' Griner said. ''To do that is pretty big, now I guess I have to try to beat it.''

Lisa Leslie (2004) and Margo Dydek (2001) held the previous record of 10.

''I had a (bad) game against Indiana,'' Griner said. ''I had to come out and play good to help my team.''

Since losing to Tulsa on June 6, Phoenix has won seven of nine games.

''I'm glad we don't play (Tulsa) again,'' Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. ''They're a good team. They're young. They have great penetration points from their guards. Skylar (Diggins) is playing great. They are playing hard.

''I actually thought Brittney had more blocks than that. When she started to get more physical and deeper in the paint, that's when she's tough to guard. She came up big for us obviously.''

Penny Taylor went 10 for 10 on free throws to finish with 17 points for the Western Conference-leading Mercury (10-3), who had all five starters score in double figures. Diana Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner chipped in 14 and Candice Dupree had 11.

Taurasi also had eight assists.

''We're talented, we're pretty well balanced,'' the guard said. ''That's how we want to play this year. We're aggressive and confident in what we're doing.

''We're playing with a little more focus. We let Tulsa take it to us last time we were here. Today, we played with a little more energy. "

Diggins, Odyssey Sims and Glory Johnson scored 16 points apiece for the Shock (6-9).

''Tulsa has two good guards in Skylar and Odyssey,'' Taurasi said. ''Glory is getting her game going, and now Courtney has become a force as well.''

The game came down to the final possession. Diggins drew a double team on an inbounds play and launched a contested shot that bounced off the rim and to Dupree. Taurasi cleared the ball into the frontcourt to end the game.

''We played hard,'' Tulsa coach Fred Williams said. ''We're working hard. Every possession we had in the second half came down to a stoppage. Phoenix shot well, made some things with Griner in the post-up game and made it awfully difficult for us to get to the rim.''

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Charles and Pondexter help Liberty hold off Sun

Charles and Pondexter help Liberty hold off Sun

NEW YORK (AP) Tina Charles and Cappie Pondexter scored 14 points apiece to help the New York Liberty hold off the Connecticut Sun 67-65 Sunday.

Trailing 63-52 early in the fourth quarter, the Sun rallied behind Alex Bentley and Chiney Ogwumike. Bentley scored seven points and Ogwumike added four during a 13-3 run that made it 66-65 with 2:21 left. Connecticut had three chances to take the lead after Ogwumike missed a free throw that would have tied it, but couldn't convert.

New York (5-11) couldn't extend the lead and the Sun had one last chance at victory after Anna Cruz missed a 3-pointer from the corner with 31 seconds left.

Katie Douglas' shot from the top of the key bounced off the front of the rim with 6 seconds left and Cruz hit one free throw for the final margin.

Ogwumike had 22 points and a career-best 17 rebounds to lead Connecticut (8-8), which had won six straight before dropping its last two games.

Charles and Pondexter led a spirited New York team that had lost six of its past seven games. Pondexter, who was scoreless for the first time in her career in a loss on Friday night, was much more aggressive on offense Sunday.

New York led 56-52 early in the fourth quarter before the two scored seven straight, including a three-point play by Charles and a layup by Pondexter that brought the crowd to its feet and made it 63-52 with 6:52 left.

New York has struggled all season getting off to good starts. The Liberty have constantly found themselves trailing at the half and have been behind by an average of seven points in their losses this season.

On Sunday, they played much better in the game's opening 20 minutes. A balanced offense that saw eight different players score had New York up 34-31 at the break. It was only the fourth time this year that the Liberty have led at the half. They improved to 3-1 in those game. They are 2-10 when they trailed.

New York extended its halftime lead to 48-39 in the third quarter on two free throws by newly signed forward Charde Houston. The Sun rallied behind Ogwumike and closed to 52-47 on a layup by Kelsey Bone with 4.5 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Liberty committed an inbounds violation giving Connecticut a chance to close the gap further, but Pondexter stole the ensuing pass and went the length of the floor, scoring a layup that dropped in the basket just as the quarter ended that made it 54-47.

New York received a scare in the third quarter when Cruz injured her left index finger. She went back to the locker room but came back out on the court for the fourth quarter.

---

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Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Toliver, Parker rally Sparks past Shock in OT

Toliver, Parker rally Sparks past Shock in OT

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Kristi Toliver came through with big shots in her first game back with the Los Angeles Sparks.

Toliver made two free throws and then hit a 3-pointer to give the Sparks the lead for good late in overtime and Los Angeles held on to beat the Tulsa Shock 92-89 on Saturday.

''That's my job,'' said Toliver, who missed six games while helping Slovakia qualify for the European National Championship. ''That's what I get paid to do. We needed a big basket and that's what I do.''

Nneka Ogwumike had 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field to lead the Sparks (6-8), who recovered for their second straight win after giving up a 15-point lead in the second half. Jantel Lavender had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Candace Parker scored 15 points and Toliver finished with 12.

Toliver's 3 put the Sparks up 87-85 with 1:21 left in the extra period and Los Angeles made five free throws in the final 27 seconds to seal the win.

''It's a good win,'' said Parker, who also scored five points in overtime. ''This is our first back-to-back wins this season. It's obviously great to have Kristi back. She hit some big shots.''

Parker credited the team's defense in the extra period for the ability to overcome struggles this season.

''We were able to get some stops down the stretch,'' she said.

Skylar Diggins scored 29 points for the Shock (6-8), who had won two straight. Rookie Odyssey Sims had 17 points and a season-high 10 assists while Courtney Paris had 12 points and 15 rebounds for her eighth double-double this season.

Los Angeles opened the game with an 11-4 run and led 47-32 at halftime.

Ogwumike left the game briefly in the first quarter after being hit on the nose and returned wearing a facemask.

Tulsa (6-8) struggled early as the Sparks did a good job of limiting scoring touches for Diggins and Sims, who were a combined 4 for 9 from the field in the first half.

''We battled, we just weren't getting the shots to fall early,'' Tulsa coach Fred Williams said. ''We were chasing them most of the first half.''

The Sparks' first-year coach said the team ''laced up the sneakers'' in the second half and started to run.

''We had them on their heels,'' Williams said of Tulsa's 22 third quarter points. ''We got back into it and into a flow.''

Tulsa took its first lead of the game, 69-68 with 8:37 left in the fourth quarter on the first of back-to-back 3-pointers from Jordan Hooper, who finished with nine points And despite building a four-point lead down the stretch, the Shock couldn't get a good shot off at the buzzer after Lavender's basket with 17 seconds remaining tied the score at 80.

''It came down to one or two shots that didn't fall,'' Williams added.

In OT, the Sparks pulled away at the free throw line, hitting 7 of 10 free throws.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Little's 31 points lead Storm past Lynx, 81-71

Little's 31 points lead Storm past Lynx, 81-71

SEATTLE (AP) Camille Little scored 13 of her career-high 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead the last-place Seattle Storm past the Minnesota Lynx 81-71 on Friday night.

Little hit 11 of 15 shots from the field, including two 3-pointers, and made 7 of 8 free throws as the Storm beat the Lynx for the second time in three weeks at home.

''I didn't even know I had that many points,'' said Little who broke her previous high of 28. ''I want us to win. We've been having some rough nights.''

Jenna O'Hea tied a career high with 15 points, all on 3s, for Seattle (7-10), which had lost three of four. Sue Bird added 11 points and nine assists, and Crystal Langhorne had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Maya Moore had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Lynx (11-5), which dropped one-half game behind Phoenix atop the Western Conference. Damiris Dantas added 12 points and Lindsay Whalen 11.

The Lynx had won two in a row and three of four but stumbled again at Seattle, which handed them their first loss June 6 after seven wins to open the season.

''We had a nice defensive stand there towards the end of the fourth quarter, but we have to do that consistently and stop their runs,'' said Moore, who scored 20 or more for the fifth straight game. ''That's one of the big differences between our successful times and our tougher times - to be able to stop the bleeding and bounce back a little bit quicker than we have been in some of our losses.''

Seattle led by 14 in the final quarter before the Lynx pulled within six with three minutes left. But the Storm closed out with an 8-4 run.

Little scored eight, including six straight, early in the fourth quarter to help put the Storm up 66-52 with 6:56 remaining.

''She had an amazing night, she really did,'' Storm coach Brian Agler said. ''I was real happy for her. She played well on both ends of the floor. She was really engaged. In a lot of ways she carried us.''

Little downplayed her role.

''I don't play for that,'' Little said about the career high. ''We won tonight. It's not going to say Camille Little won. It says the Seattle Storm won and that's what's important to me.''

O'Hea scored nine and Bird seven to help give Seattle a 56-50 lead after three quarters. O'Hea hit three straight 3s to put the Storm up 47-38 before the Lynx rolled off 10 straight to take a momentary one-point lead.

''Jenna can shoot it,'' Agler said. ''We started playing her more at the 3 spot. We like giving her open looks.''

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Taurasi, Taylor rally Mercury past Fever, 81-76

Taurasi, Taylor rally Mercury past Fever, 81-76

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Phoenix Mercury picked up their intensity in the second half and rallied past the Indiana Fever.

Diana Taurasi scored 23 points, Penny Taylor added 20 and Candice Dupree had 18 to help Phoenix erase a 13-point deficit in the third quarter to beat Indiana 81-76 Friday night.

''Really it was more about effort,'' Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. ''We had to play harder. I didn't think we were playing hard as we could and we changed that in the second half.''

Erlana Larkins' short jumper gave Indiana a 52-39 lead midway through the third before the Mercury (10-3) rallied.

Phoenix trailed 61-55 entering the fourth quarter, but Taurasi scored eight points in the final period to finish with at least 20 for the seventh time this season.

The Mercury trailed by 13-points midway through the third quarter, The Mercury finally erased the deficit with a 13-4 run to open the fourth and took a 68-65 lead with 4:32 to play.

With the score tied at 70, DeWanna Bonner stole the ball from Indiana's Marissa Coleman, who was then whistled for a clear-path foul to give Phoenix two foul shots and possession of the ball. Bonner made both free throws and Dupree added a basket to put the Mercury up 74-70 with 2:14 remaining.

''It was a tough game, it just always is when you play Indiana,'' Taurasi said. ''The game is usually really ugly and today was no different. We found a way to play a little bit better towards the end. That kind of was the difference.''

Taurasi earned a flagrant-one foul during the third quarter when she caught Briann January with her right forearm. Then less than a minute later she was issued a technical foul.

Shavonte Zellous led Indiana (6-8) with 18-points, including three free throws with 42.6 seconds left to pull within one.

Phoenix closed out the game with a 3-pointer by Taurasi and four free throws by Bonner.

The Mercury's Brittney Griner was held to a season-low four points - all in the first half.

''Anytime you hold Griner to four points, you're doing really good,'' Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. ''Unfortunately, Taurasi and Taylor gave us some fits, and with some help from Dupree.''

The win marked Phoenix's largest comeback win of the season. The previous mark was 12-points against San Antonio on May 23.

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Prince helps Sky hold off Liberty

Prince helps Sky hold off Liberty

NEW YORK (AP) Epiphanny Prince scored 30 points and the Chicago Sky beat the New York Liberty 73-69 on Friday night.

Chicago (7-8) was missing star forward Elena Delle Donne, who is sidelined indefinitely with a recurrence of Lyme disease. The reigning rookie of the year went home to Delaware to recover. She missed five games this month because of the disease before playing against Connecticut on Wednesday. She scored 13 points in the loss, but wasn't feeling well after the game.

Even without Delle Donne, the Sky were too much for the Liberty (4-11) because of Prince. She missed the Sky's first trip to Madison Square Garden back in May as she was taking time to recover from playing overseas in Russia.

The loss was New York's sixth in the past seven games.

Tina Charles led the Liberty with 16 points while Sugar Rodgers added 12. Cappie Pondexter was held scoreless.

The Liberty had no answer for Prince, a New York native. Every time they rallied, she hit a key basket to keep Chicago in front.

New York trailed by 13 at the half before pulling to 71-69 with 45 seconds left. Chicago couldn't get a shot off on its next possession as Courtney Vandersloot traveled just as the shot clock ran out, giving the Liberty a chance to tie it.

Plenette Pierson's driving layup was blocked with 18 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds, Pondexter caught the ball on the wing and threw up an airball.

Prince hit two free throws to give her 30 points - matching her season high - and seal the win.

With 6 seconds left, Vandersloot took a shot off a hard screen from Pierson and had to be helped off the court.

Prince got the Sky started scoring 13 points in the first quarter as Chicago jumped out to a 25-16 lead. The Sky extended their advantage to 50-37 at the half as Tamera Young took over. She had seven points in the second quarter.

New York showed some fight in the third quarter, opening the period on a 13-2 run to close to 52-50, but the Liberty couldn't tie the game or take the lead. Prince and Young then scored the next nine points to restore the double-digit advantage.

New York closed to 67-65 midway in the fourth after Anna Cruz scored four straight points. Prince answered though, hitting a deep 3-pointer from the wing that made it 70-65 with 3:19 left.

Back-to-back layups by Pierson and Charles made it 71-69 with 45 seconds left.

---

Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

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Meesseman has double-double as Mystics beat Sun

Meesseman has double-double as Mystics beat Sun

WASHINGTON (AP) Emma Meesseman had a career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Washington Mystics to a 69-63 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Friday night.

Kia Vaughn and rookie Bria Hartley scored 12 points apiece for the Mystics (7-9), and Ivory Latta added 10. Meesseman, who tied a career best for rebounding, shot 11 for 14 from the field (79 percent) while the rest of her teammates were just under 30 percent (16 for 54).

Katie Douglas scored 18 points to lead the Sun (8-7), who had won six straight since a 74-66 loss to Washington on June 5. Alex Bentley had 11 points and rookie Chiney Ogwumike added 10. Connecticut was just 3 for 15 on 3-pointers while dropping to 1-5 on the road.

The Mystics got off to a strong start, making their first seven shots to take a 14-2 lead with 6:40 left in the first quarter.

Connecticut, 1 for 4 with two turnovers during that opening stretch, started making its shots and took a 17-15 lead in the final minute of the opening period.

Douglas made two jumpers as the Sun scored the final six points of the first half to take a 33-31 lead at the break.

However, the Mystics started the second half the same way they began the game. Hartley had nine points and Meesseman scored six as Washington used a 17-2 run to take a 48-37 lead with 3:52 remaining in the third.

The Sun pulled within four in the final minute, but Latta made two free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining to seal the win.

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McCoughtry, Lyttle lead Dream over Stars 81-79

McCoughtry, Lyttle lead Dream over Stars 81-79

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Angel McCoughtry scored 18 points and Sancho Lyttle had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and the Atlanta Dream held on for an 81-79 victory over the San Antonio Stars on Thursday night.

Tiffany Hayes added 15 points and Erika de Souza 14 points for Atlanta (10-4), which never trailed in winning for the seventh time in eight games. The Dream have the league's best record.

Becky Hammon's 3-pointer capped a 10-0 run that pulled San Antonio within 77-74 with 57.2 seconds remaining.

After McCoughtry made a pair of free throws and Celine Dumerc added another. San Antonio forward Shameka Christon hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 80-79, but the Stars were unable to complete the rally.

Dumerc had a point and seven assists in front of San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who also is from France.

San Antonio reserve Jia Perkins scored 17 points before leaving the game in the third quarter with a strained right hamstring. Christon added 14 points and Shenise Johnson 10. Hammon finished with eight.

The Stars (7-8) lost their second straight after a three-game winning streak.

Atlanta scored the game's first nine points, taking a 17-7 lead before San Antonio's bench sparked a rally.

The Stars' reserves had 24 of their 42 first-half points, including 11 by Perkins, in cutting the Dream's lead to 45-42 entering the third quarter. San Antonio's bench finished with 52.

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Skylar Diggins Season Timeline

Skylar Diggins Season Timeline

Skylar Diggins has stood out in her second year. Here are some of her best moments so far.

May 17: After a strong preseason, Skylar Diggins tipped off her 2014 campaign with a near triple-double as she scored 20 points and also added nine assists and eight rebounds. The Shock, however, suffered a four-point loss to the Stars.

June 6: On the wrong side of some close finishes, the Shock started 0-5. In their sixth game of the year, Diggins helped lead the Shock to their first victory of the season in a blowout win versus the Mercury, currently the top team in the West. Diggins scored 20 points in the win -- her fourth 20+ point game up to that point -- and also handed out nine assists.

June 13: Diggins showed that she had ice in her veins as she hit a game-winning jumper with 1.9 seconds left to beat the Sparks. This win in a close game appeared to have given the Shock confidence in their ability to close games.

June 15: On a record-setting night for both Skylar and Tulsa, Diggins poured in a career-high 26 points while leading the Shock to its fourth consecutive win, the longest win streak in franchise history.

June 22: Skylar's scoring binge continued near her hometown in Chicago where she set yet another career high in scoring, this time going off for 33 points on 11-for-20 shooting on ESPN2.

June 25: Just days after her first-ever 30-point game, Diggins went off for 32 (23 in the second half) versus the Fever. She also hit a last-second 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. With the 107-102 victory, the Shock became the first team since the Mercury in 2010 to score 105+ points in two straight games.

For all of her heroics and great performances, Skylar checked in at No. 4 amongst West backcourt players in All-Star voting behind only Diana Taurasi, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus and ahead of stars like Sue Bird and Becky Hammon. As of June 26, she is second in the league in scoring (20.5ppg) and fifth in the league in assists (5.2apg).

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Shock rally to beat Fever 107-102 in OT

Shock rally to beat Fever 107-102 in OT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Skylar Diggins made herself right at home - at the Indiana Fever's expense.

The South Bend native and former Notre Dame star scored 32 points in her return to Indiana to help the Tulsa Shock beat the Fever 107-102 in overtime Wednesday night.

Diggins hit a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and complete a 17-point second-half comeback. She also had seven rebounds and four assists.

''They're very aggressive and tough and they make it tough to get to the basket,'' Diggins said. ''I was just finally able to get some things going, get some baskets in transition and some shots finally started falling down.''

Diggins' 3-point play midway through the overtime period gave Tulsa (6-7) a 102-96 advantage.

The Fever cut it to 102-99 on Briann January's 3-pointer with 2:21 left. But a minute later, Diggins set up Odyssey Sims for a layup that put the game away.

Shavonte Zellous led Indiana (6-7) with 33 points. Karima Christmas added 17 points, and Marissa Coleman had 14 points and eight rebounds.

With Indiana up 93-91 with 7.8 seconds left in regulation, Zellous missed the first of two free throws. She made the second to push the margin to three, and Diggins tied it with her 3-pointer in front of a large group of family and friends at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

''We had the game. We just let them take it right from us,'' Zellous said. ''We weren't as aggressive as we should have been and we allowed them to play comfortable.''

Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel and players Lance Stephenson and Chris Copeland attended the game.

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Thomas leads Sun past Sky, 79-69

Thomas leads Sun past Sky, 79-69

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Rookie Alyssa Thomas scored 12 of her 23 points in the third quarter and had 11 rebounds to lead the Connecticut Sun to their sixth straight victory, 79-69 over the Chicago Sky on Wednesday night.

It was Thomas eighth start, and her minutes have increased with starting guard Allison Hightower out with a sprained knee.''

''I'm definitely a lot more confident,'' Thomas said. ''The more we play, the more confident I get. Credit my teammates for helping me to be comfortable out there.''

Katie Douglas added 19 points for the Sun (8-6), Alex Bentley had 12 points and nine assists, and Chiney Ogwumike finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and nine rebounds in her season debut for the Sky (6-8). She missed the first 13 games after having arthroscopic surgery to repair a hip injury.

Elena Delle Donne scored 13 points for Chicago. She missed the previous five games because of Lyme disease.

Down by six at halftime, the Sun opened the second half with a 22-2 run. Thomas scored 10 points during that stretch, and made two free throws to make it 63-47 with 3:19 remaining in the third.

''I thought her and (center Kelsey) Bone really changed things,'' Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. ''They found each other. They played off each other really well.

''(Thomas is) a tough match. She doesn't have the quickest feet or the best handle, but she has one of the biggest motors in the women's game.''

Chicago shot 28.6-percent in the second half.

''You always have to give the opposition credit,'' Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. ''I thought we played a little bit slow in that third quarter, especially when you're coming off I think a really nice first quarter in which we put up 30. They broke up the momentum. ... I mean it was 27-10 and at one point 17-2 (in the third quarter). Even the ones they (Sun) missed they got the offensive rebounds, so I credit them for being the aggressor and making things happen.''

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Race to the MVP: Week 6

Race to the MVP: Week 6

Race to the MVP is WNBA.com’s weekly feature where we evaluate who’s getting closer to that coveted crown.

This week saw some huge shifts as Phoenix moved into the top spot in the league with their ninth win. Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins both had career-high performances and Angel McCoughtry made a drive for the top spot, breaking into the top three for the first time this season.

#1 MAYA MOORE

Maya Moore is here to stay. This week she made WNBA headlines with an astounding 36-point and five-steal performance, which leaves her with 23.5 points per game now. (For reference, the highest PPG average was Taurasi's 25.3 in 2006.) That game was her second 30+-point performance in a row and her sixth of the season. She also led the Lynx to two victories following their loss to Phoenix.

#2 ANGEL McCOUGHTRY

Angel McCoughtry has found the proper balance of scoring and slowing it down this season. She is still putting up Angel-like numbers, but has also developed a court sense that makes Atlanta almost unstoppable. McCoughtry and the Dream are now on top of the East and half a game behind Phoenix for control of the league. This week Angel was voted Player of the Week for her 33-point and 10-rebound performance in Atlanta's win over New York.

#3 CANDACE PARKER

Candace Parker is still putting up strong performances despite Los Angeles' continued struggles. This week, however, the Sparks did pull off a big win against Tulsa, where Parker put up 24 points and and grabbed seven rebounds. Unfortunately for the Sparks, if they continue to struggle Candace could slip out of the top three.

#4 DIANA TAURASI

Phoenix had a huge week this week, bumping the Lynx out of the top spot after beating them twice in a row. It almost goes without saying that Taurasi also had a big week with three solid performances in all three of Phoenix's wins. She had a double-double every night with 21 points and 11 assists the first night, 22 points and 10 rebounds the next night, and 14 points and 12 assists the last night.

#5 SKYLAR DIGGINS

Skylar Diggins is no doubt having a breakout season. She had an impressive career-high 33-point game with six steals in Tulsa's most recent win against Chicago. Plus, her numbers have been solid all season. She is averaging 19.5 points and has really taken over this Tulsa team. If Skylar keeps this pace up, she and Tulsa could keep climbing up the ladder.

#6 ELENA DELLE DONNE

Unfortunately for Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky, EDD has missed the last five games due to a Lyme Disease flare-up. Her condition is still considered day-to-day, but she is expected to return as soon as she is considered well enough. Her presence is sorely missed by the Sky, as they have suffered four losses in her absence.

#7 BRITTNEY GRINER

Brittney Griner is also finding herself in the midst of a breakout year this sophomore season. Her last performance was a career-high 27 points and 18 rebounds to beat the Minnesota Lynx and edge them out of their spot atop the Western Conference. She then beat her own personal scoring record for a new career-high 28 points versus Tulsa the next game. She is averaging 17.5 points on the season now.

#8 ERIKA dE SOUZA

Erika de Souza fell quite a bit this week with an uncharacteristic scoring performance. This, however, didn't affect the Dream as Angel McCoughtry picked up some of the scoring slack. The Brazilian center, however, still put up a solid defensive performance with 14 rebounds on Sunday. With the Dream doing as well as they're doing, though, De Souza is still in solid contention for the top spots.

#9 LINDSAY WHALEN

Lindsay Whalen is not to be discounted. She is still No. 4 in assists per game with 5.4. Plus, her scoring numbers have still been consistent. Whalen, however, still has the potential to move much higher up the ladder if she increases her scoring.

#10 TINA CHARLES

Tina Charles' performance fell a little this week as well as the Liberty continue to struggle for Ws. Though she had a 25-point game against Chicago, she only had six and 12 points the following games and her rebounding numbers fell into single digits, which is uncharacteristic for the double-double champ.

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Parker and Ogwumike lead Sparks over Storm 65-57

Parker and Ogwumike lead Sparks over Storm 65-57

LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles Sparks coach Carol Ross let her team know she was upset after another poor third quarter. By the end of the game she called it their best of the season.

The Sparks held the Seattle Storm to a season low in points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, in a 65-57 win on Tuesday. Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike each had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Parker equaled season-highs with seven assists and four blocks.

Armintie Herrington scored eight points for the Sparks (6-8), who had lost five of their previous six games and moved out of last place in the Western Conference, ahead of the Storm (6-10), after they were outscored 21-16, in the third.

''To me, this was our best game because we had to dig down,'' Ross said. ''They made their run in the third quarter. We were not very good defensively. They were very good offensively with the three-ball. They took a chewing and they made some adjustments and they were able to shut that down in the fourth quarter.

''I think this team found out a lot about themselves today because we didn't do a lot of things well, still, but we were tougher. We found ways to win. That's what great teams do.''

Temeka Johnson led Seattle with 11 points and Jenna O'Hea and Noelle Quinn each had nine. Seattle pulled to 55-50 on Camille Little's basket in the paint with six minutes left but the Storm made only two field goals the rest of the way.

The 57 points were the fewest allowed by the Sparks this season.

''I think we played good defense for the most part, and that's been the trend this season is just playing defense . and then certain plays escape us,'' Parker said. ''But this game we were able to kind of correct our problems and make plays down the stretch and do what works for us.''

Ogwumike made four free throws and Parker made a layup off Alana Beard's steal to put the game away late. The Sparks won despite a scoreless game from third-leading scorer Beard, who went 0-for-7 from the field but recorded six assists.

Seattle made four straight 3-pointers during a 17-8 run to close the third quarter, the last by Quinn to get the Storm to 44-42. Quinn ended the third with a pull-up jumper to pull Seattle to 48-47 but the Storm got no closer.

''I just thought, for the most part, they played with a lot more urgency, toughness, and focus than we did,'' Seattle coach Brian Agler said. ''We did make a run. We sort of hung around for most of the game, had our chances to take the lead, and never could do that. That being said, I think the game was played the way Los Angeles wanted it to be played, and they took full advantage of it.''

Lindsey Harding had six points with three assists and two steals in the second quarter to help give the Sparks a 32-26 lead at halftime. Parker nearly had a double-double in the first half with nine points and eight rebounds.

Storm guard Tanisha Wright missed a third straight game with a bruised knee. Tina Thompson, the WNBA's all-time leading scorer and a former Sparks and Storm player, attended the game.

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All-Star Early Returns

All-Star Early Returns

NEW YORK, June 23, 2014 -- The Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne, who last year became the first ever rookie to lead all vote-getters for Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star, is once again setting the pace, leading all players with 16,542 votes following early returns of the 2014 WNBA All-Star Balloting presented by Boost Mobile. Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore -- MVP of the 2013 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile and a two-time All-Star -- tops the Western Conference and ranks second overall with 16,509 votes.

Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014 will take place at US Airways Center in Phoenix on Saturday, July 19, and will be nationally televised on ESPN, with tip-off at 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. PT).

In addition to Delle Donne -- the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year -- the top frontcourt vote-getters in the Eastern Conference are two-time All-Star Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream (9,736) and former league MVP (2011) and eight-time All-Star Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever (8,341). Leading the way at the guard spots for the East are rookie Shoni Schimmel of conference leader Atlanta (14,635) and Ivory Latta of the Washington Mystics (5,974).

Joining Moore as the leading vote-getters in the Western Conference frontcourt are 2013 WNBA MVP and MVP of Boost Mobile All-Star 2013 Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks (13,704) and 2013 WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury (10,214). At the backcourt spots, six-time All-Star and 2009 WNBA MVP Diana Taurasi of Phoenix (10,487) and four-time All-Star and 2011 Finals MVP Seimone Augustus of Minnesota (10,024) are leading the pack.

The WNBA will announce the starters on July 8 during the nationally televised game on ESPN2 featuring the Los Angeles Sparks at the Minnesota Lynx (9 p.m. ET). Reserves, which are voted on by the WNBA’s head coaches, will be announced on ESPN2 on July 15, during the game between the Sparks and the Indiana Fever (8 p.m. ET).

The 60 players included on the ballot represent all 12 WNBA teams. Voters are asked to select two guards and three frontcourt players (forwards and/or centers) from each conference. A write-in option is also available, allowing fans to choose players not listed on the ballot.

Fans can vote for up to 10 players per day on WNBA.com, mobile devices, and the WNBA Center Court App presented by Boost Mobile, and can share those All-Star picks with friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter, encouraging others to cast their ballots as well. Fans also can cast votes on Facebook and Twitter, voting for one player per day using the designated hashtag #WNBABALLOT.

Balloting will conclude at midnight ET on Wednesday, July 2.

Under WNBA guidelines, the coach of the previous season's conference champion serves as the All-Star coach for that conference, provided that the coach remains in the same position. With that, Minnesota Head Coach Cheryl Reeve, who guided the Lynx to the 2013 WNBA title, will lead the West squad.

Since Fred Williams, head coach of the 2013 Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream is now at the helm in Tulsa, the East head coach will be selected based on the club with the best winning percentage through games on June 29.

Individual tickets for Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014 start at just $20 and can be purchased online at PhoenixMercury.com/allstar, through Ticketmaster viaTicketmaster.com, by dialing 800-745-3000, or at the US Airways Center Ticket Office. For every All-Star Game ticket sold, the Mercury will donate $1 to its "All-Stars and Stripes" program benefiting local military heroes and their families.

Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2013 took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., with the Western Conference squad prevailing 102-98. Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks scored a record 23 points, while the Washington Mystics’ Ivory Latta and Chicago Sky’s Epiphanny Prince led the Eastern Conference with 15 points apiece. The game also featured the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer Tina Thompson -- who was selected to the game for a record ninth time -- making the final All-Star appearance of her career before retiring at season’s end.

2014 WNBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING PRESENTED BY BOOST MOBILE

EASTERN CONFERENCE -- EARLY RETURNS LEADERS

Guards: Shoni Schimmel (Atl) 14,635; Ivory Latta (Was) 5,974; Cappie Pondexter (NY) 5926; Briann January (Ind) 5,341; Courtney Vandersloot (Chi) 4,972; Katie Douglas (Con) 4,182; Kara Lawson (Was) 2,914; Epiphanny Prince (Chi) 2,707; Shavonte Zellous (Ind) 2,256; Matee Ajavon (Atl) 1,556; Anna Cruz (NY) 1,517; Allison Hightower (Con) 1,109

Frontcourt: Elena Delle Donne (Chi) 16,542; Angel McCoughtry (Atl) 9,736; Tamika Catchings (Ind) 8,341; Erika de Souza (Atl) 7,579; Chiney Ogwumike (Con) 6,922; Tina Charles (NY) 5,897; Jessica Breland (Chi) 3,125; Sylvia Fowles (Chi) 2,756; Sancho Lyttle (Atl) 2,525; Erlana Larkins (Ind) 2,151; Marissa Coleman (Ind) 1,794; Emma Meesseman (Was) 1,692; Kelsey Griffin (Con) 1,240; Kelsey Bone (Con) 1,205; Kia Vaughn (Was) 1,180; Essence Carson (NY) 1,099; Monique Currie (Was) 1,044; Plenette Pierson (NY) 900

WESTERN CONFERENCE -- EARLY RETURNS LEADERS

Guards: Diana Taurasi (Phx) 10,487; Seimone Augustus (Minn) 10,024; Lindsay Whalen (Minn) 8,898; Skylar Diggins (Tul) 8,447; Sue Bird (Sea) 4,506; Becky Hammon (SA) 4,216; Danielle Robinson (SA) 2,889; Erin Phillips (Phx) 2,453; Kristi Toliver (LA) 2,119; Alana Beard (LA) 1,641; Riquna Williams (Tul) 1,151; Tanisha Wright (Sea) 790

Frontcourt: Maya Moore (Minn) 16,509; Candace Parker (LA) 13,704; Brittney Griner (Phx) 10,214; Kayla McBride (SA) 6,220; Nneka Ogwumike (LA) 6,129; Janel McCarville (Minn) 5,048; Candice Dupree (Phx) 4,801; Glory Johnson (Tul) 3,329; DeWanna Bonner (Phx) 3,170; Rebekkah Brunson (Minn) 2,932; Crystal Langhorne (Sea) 2,156; Jayne Appel (SA) 2,100; Courtney Paris (Tul) 1,878; Sophia Young-Malcolm (SA) 1,611; Camille Little (Sea) 1,214; Jantel Lavender (LA) 1,181; Shekinna Stricklen (Sea) 1,027; Jordan Hooper (Tul) 996

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Mystics top Stars 81-70 in San Antonio

Mystics top Stars 81-70 in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 16 points and Ivory Latta 14 points, helping the Washington Mystics snap a four-game skid with an 81-70 victory over San Antonio Stars on Tuesday.

Emma Meesseman had 10 points and 13 rebounds and Stefanie Dolson scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter to help Washington (6-9) hold off San Antonio (7-7).

Stars rookie Kayla McBride scored 17 points, Danielle Robinson added 16 points, Danielle Adams had 12 and Sophia Young-Malcolm 11.

Washington shot 50 percent from the field, leading by as many as 13 points behind a strong frontcourt.

After twice making her way into the paint for short jumpers, Dolson sank an 18-foot jumper over Danielle Adams in a personal 10-0 run that put Washington up 73-64 with 4 minutes left.

San Antonio had won three straight to move into third in the West, but lost for the fourth time at home this season.

The Stars shot 39 percent from the field, struggling for much of the game despite having open looks. Robinson made her first three shots, but was the only Stars player to make a basket in the opening 5 minutes.

Washington went on an 11-2 run bridging the first and second quarters, much to the dismay of San Antonio coach Dan Hughes. The Mystics were 3 for 3 on free throws in the run, despite Hughes' protests that ''they're flopping.''

McBride's 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer pulled San Antonio within 36-33. She scored the Stars' first six points in the second half to tie the game at 39.

Young-Malcolm had three three-point plays in the third quarter, drawing contact in the paint while rising for a short jumper each time.

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Angel, Griner: Players of the Week

Angel, Griner: Players of the Week

NEW YORK, June 23, 2014 - Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream and Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury were named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played June 16 through June 22.

For McCoughtry - who led Atlanta to a 2-1 mark as the Dream improved its Eastern Conference-leading record to 9-4 - this marks her first Player of the Week award of the season and the 12th of her career. The former Louisville star averaged a conference-best 26.0 points for the week, while also contributing 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.7 steals per game. She also ranked among the conference leaders in free throw percentage (.950, on 19-of-20 from the line).

McCoughtry opened her week by scoring a game-high 27 points and adding six rebounds, four assists, and three steals in an 83-73 home win over the Washington Mystics on June 18. Two days later, she paced the Dream with 18 points and six assists as Atlanta topped the visiting New York Liberty, 85-64, tying a franchise record with six consecutive victories. The sixth-year pro closed out the week on June 22 with a personal season high of 33 points, shooting 10-of-11 from the free throw line in an 85-78 road loss at New York.

On the season, McCoughtry ranks second in the WNBA in scoring (20.3 ppg), third in steals (2.5 spg), and 11th in assists (4.3 apg).

En route to earning the first Player of the Week honor of her career, Griner - the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm - led Phoenix to a 2-0 mark with wins over conference foes Minnesota and Tulsa. For the week, Griner ranked second in the West in scoring (27.5 ppg) and tied for second in rebounding (11.0 rpg). She also paced the West in both field goal percentage (.767, 23-of-30 from the field) and blocks (4.0 bpg; 2.5 more than the second-ranked player), while sharing the lead in free throw accuracy (1.000, hitting all nine shots from the charity stripe).

The former Baylor star opened the week with a monster effort in a 92-79 win over visiting Minnesota on June 18, pouring in a then career-high 27 points and matching her career-high of 18 rebounds, while adding two blocks. The victory, Phoenix’s second in as many tries against the Lynx, came after the club had dropped 10 straight regular-season contests to Minnesota and 14 in a row including postseason play. Two days later, Griner reached a new personal best in scoring with 28 points, and matched her career high with six blocks in a 91-80 victory over the Shock.

Following her impressive week, Griner now leads the league in blocks (3.3 bpg), ranks second in field goal percentage (.600), and is seventh in both scoring (17.4 ppg) and boards (8.6 rpg).

With Griner’s award, it marks the second straight week in which a member of the "3 to See" from the heralded 2013 Draft class earned Player of the Week honors in the West. Tulsa’s Skylar Diggins - the No. 3 overall selection in 2013 - garnered the award a week ago.

Other candidates for WNBA Players of the Week in the Eastern Conference were Chicago’s Jessica Breland and Epiphanny Prince. Additional candidates in the Western Conference were Minnesota’s Maya Moore, San Antonio’s Danielle Robinson, Seattle’s Sue Bird and Camille Little, and Tulsa’s Skylar Diggins and Glory Johnson.

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Little scores 22 to lift Storm past Mystics in OT

Little scores 22 to lift Storm past Mystics in OT

SEATTLE (AP) After an overtime loss in their last game, Sue Bird and Camille Little were determined to get the Seattle Storm back on the winning track.

Bird hit the tying 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter and Little scored nine of her 22 points in overtime to lead the Seattle Storm in an 89-86 victory over the Washington Mystics on Sunday night.

The Storm (6-9) snapped a two-game skid, including an 87-82 loss in OT to San Antonio on Thursday.

''San Antonio is a game we should have gotten,'' said Little, who shot 3 for 4 in the extra period after going 0 for 7 in the third and fourth quarters. ''We just had to refocus and make sure we pulled out the game tonight and just work on the things we can do.''

Little shot 3 for 4 in the extra period after combing to go 0 for 7 in the third and fourth quarters.

''Every basketball player can get caught up with what happened in the past,'' Bird said. ''Camille, all things considered, did a lot of big things in overtime.''

Bird finished with 21 points, including the tying 3-pointer with 1:18 left in the fourth quarter. Shekinna Stricklen scored 12 points and Crystal Langhorne had 11 against her former team.

Rookie guard Bria Hartley, selected by Seattle and sent to Washington in a draft-day deal for Langhorne, scored a season-high 26 points for Washington (5-9), which lost for the fourth straight time. Hartley's previous high was 20 on June 1 against Los Angeles.

''She's fantastic,'' veteran Mystics guard Kara Lawson said. ''Forget that she's a rookie. She really doesn't have many weaknesses and is really good at every phase of the game. She's a good defender, a really good passer and, obviously as you saw tonight, she's a really good scorer. ... She gave us a lot of offense tonight, which is what we needed.''

Monique Currie added 16 points for Washington and Lawson had 13.

The teams traded the first two baskets of overtime before Little scooped one in while falling to the floor. That put the Storm on top 79-77 with 3:37 left, and they stayed ahead the rest of the way. The lead grew to as many as five points at 84-79 on Little's lay-in with 1:40 remaining.

The Mystics pulled to 87-86 on an uncontested lay-in by Hartley with 10.2 seconds to go. Little hit two free throws less than 2 seconds later extend the lead, and a last-gasp 3-point try from the top of the key by Tierra Ruffin-Pratt bounced off the back of the rim and was still loose on the floor under the Washington basket as the horn sounded.

''What happened Thursday night (in the loss to San Antonio) helped us tonight,'' Storm head coach Brian Agler said. ''I could just see a little bit more grit and determination and persistence down the stretch. Not that we didn't have that the other night, because we obviously had a great opportunity to capitalize then.

''But on big possessions tonight, when they needed a 3-point shot - which was about five or six times - we didn't give them that.''

Seattle shot 43 percent (31 for 72), making a season-high 12 shots (on 24 tries) from 3-point range. The Mystics shot 52 percent (36 for 69), with 8 of 18 on 3s.

''It's just tough - we wasted a really good shooting effort,'' Washington coach Mike Thibault said. ''We haven't had very many shooting efforts where we shoot over 50 percent in the game. We had a few turnovers in overtime that killed us, and they scored on all three. It's a tough one to lose when you play that well.''

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Moore scores 25 to lead Lynx past Fever

Moore scores 25 to lead Lynx past Fever

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Lynx had just one offensive rebound on, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Maya Moore scored 11 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter and had a huge put-back down the stretch to lead the Lynx to an 83-77 victory over the Indiana Fever on Sunday.

Midway through the fourth quarter the Lynx still didn't have an offensive rebound, while the Fever had 11 - which helped them stay in the game despite shooting just 37 percent from the floor. Clinging to a one-point lead with 4 minutes to play, the Lynx finally got the bounce they needed.

Seimone Augustus misfired on a jump shot, but the rebound caromed straight off the back rim to Moore, who was crashing the lane. She tipped it in to put Minnesota ahead 71-68, and the Lynx held on to complete a second-half comeback.

''Those last 5 minutes we didn't get frustrated, we didn't cave, we stayed with it and that offensive rebound was waiting for me,'' Moore said. ''Sometimes it's not going to be as pretty. We always believe that as long as we're on the court there's a chance so we just kept going.''

Augustus and Lindsay Whalen each scored 16 for the Lynx (11-4), who shot 57 percent from the floor but struggled with turnovers and perimeter defense in the first half.

Indiana scored 11 points off 13 Minnesota turnovers, and a flurry of 3-pointers gave the Fever a 41-35 lead at the break.

''We just did some things that just kind of shot ourselves in the foot and made the game harder to win than it should have been,'' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''We had a heart-to-heart at halftime. We just told them . oh by the way, we're shooting better than 60 percent, so if you would just handle it, we will get easy opportunities.''

Minnesota turned it over just six times in the second half and held the Fever to 3 for 13 from beyond the arc after halftime.

Karima Christmas scored 18 points to lead Indiana (6-6). Shavonte Zellous and Briann January added 16 points each.

''One thing we did was match their physicalness,'' Fever coach Lin Dunn said. ''I thought we battled against a really fine team. They have three Olympians. We don't have any.''

Indiana star Tamika Catchings (back) has yet to play this season.

Zellous hit two 3s and Christmas added another during a 12-0 run just before halftime.

The Lynx regained the lead late in the third quarter on a turnaround jumper by Moore, and went ahead for good at 69-67 on a pair of free throws by Whalen.

''We let them kind of dictate a lot of things in the first half. We got kind of out of sorts a little,'' Whalen said. ''I had several turnovers and I just knew we had to come out in the third quarter and have a couple of good possessions. I knew once we got a couple good looks at it and kind of calmed down at halftime we'd be all right.''

Minnesota won its second straight and split a string of six games in 10 days.

''We don't feel sorry for ourselves,'' Reeve said of their tough recent schedule. ''We just go, `Hey, it's hard, but it's hard for everybody at some point.' But we wanted to have an exclamation point to the six games in 10 days.''

Minnesota used a 10-0 run to take a 29-18 lead midway through the second quarter. The Fever responded with a four-point play by January and a 3-pointer by Maggie Lucas to pull with four.

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Stars edge Sparks 72-69

Stars edge Sparks 72-69

LOS ANGELES (AP) Danielle Robinson needed some time to get up to full speed for the San Antonio Stars.

Quiet for most of the game, Robinson scored on a driving layup with 8.4 seconds left to give San Antonio a 72-69 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday. She got the ball at the top of the key and converted from the left side. The Sparks missed a field-goal attempt and were forced to foul on their next possession.

Robinson also scored on a drive to tie it at 69 with 40 seconds left as the Stars (7-6) won their third game in a row.

''Just being confident,'' Robinson said. ''We had a bunch of shooters on the floor, so the floor was spread. If it's Jayne (Appel) screening for me or (Danielle Adams) screening for me, I know that they're going to get a piece of my defense and then it's just me. I'm trying to find an angle to get to the basket.''

Robinson and Adams each scored 13 points, and Becky Hammon had 11. Robinson, who scored a season-high 24 points against the Sparks on June 14, was guarded by defensive specialist Armintie Herrington for most of the game and had only two points in the first half.

But her quickness paid off against a Sparks team that has gone to a bigger lineup without guard Kristi Toliver, who is training with the Slovak national team. San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said he also sees maturation from Robinson at both ends of the floor.

''She's always had great quickness, and she's was very well-coached in college,'' Hughes said. ''But now she's learning to make the right basketball play, and she's increased her ability to shoot the basketball. So this is just not a quick player that penetrates and dishes and dumps.''

Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks (4-8) with a season-high 24 points and 11 rebounds. Candace Parker had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Jantel Lavender had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Ogwumike scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a bank shot that gave the Sparks a 69-67 lead. San Antonio missed its next four shots, and Ogwumike got a block on Adams on another possession.

The Sparks committed a season-high 23 turnovers that the Stars converted into 20 points.

''Way too many of them,'' Sparks coach Carol Ross said. ''I thought when San Antonio went in their zone, it's that old basic fake-a-pass to make-a-pass. We were staring our targets down. We weren't getting hands on balls, and then we were trying to jam it in when people weren't open. We were just forcing. If it don't fit, don't force it. It's just basic basketball. I don't care what level it is. We just weren't very good with decision making in those instances.''

Hammon made three 3-pointers in the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter to put San Antonio ahead, 67-62, before the Sparks came back with a jump hook by Lavender and a three-point play by Ogwumike.

Hammon was also kept off the stat sheet early with two points through three quarters before her outburst.

''Obviously Becky's a vet,'' Robinson said. ''To have her presence out there is really nice. In times like that, we really, really need her.''

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Pondexter helps Liberty end skid with 85-78 win

Pondexter helps Liberty end skid with 85-78 win

NEW YORK (AP) Cappie Pondexter scored 23 points to help the New York Liberty beat the Atlanta Dream 85-78 on Sunday, snapping a five-game losing streak.

Trailing 40-29 late in the second quarter, Pondexter took control of the game. She helped New York (4-10) to a 29-6 run over the next 10 minutes. Pondexter moved to more of a facilitator role on offense and the Liberty responded.

New York led 58-46 with 2:23 left in the third quarter before Atlanta (9-4) rallied.

The Dream, who had matched a franchise record with six straight wins, closed to 58-54 after three quarters.

The Liberty led by four early in the fourth before Pondexter hit a 3-pointer and a layup to make it 67-60 early in the fourth. They extended the advantage to 12 before Atlanta closed to 77-72 with 1:11 left on Angel McCoughtry's layup.

Tina Charles hit a foul line jumper just before the shot clock expired to seal the win.

McCoughtry led the Dream with 33 points and 10 rebounds. Sancho Lyttle had 13 points, seven rebounds and five steals for Atlanta.

The game was the second of a home-and-home set between the two Eastern Conference teams. The Dream won the game in Atlanta on Friday night by 19 points.

On Sunday, the Dream built their 40-29 lead late in the first half capped by consecutive baskets by McCoughtry. She finished the first half with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. But then Pondexter got New York going as the Liberty scored the final nine points of the first half. Sugar Rodgers had five points during that burst and Pondexter ended the half with two free throws with just under a second left to make it 40-38.

New York kept it up in the third quarter. Leading 44-42, the Liberty scored 14 of the next 18 to take a 58-46 advantage. Alex Montgomery got it started with a 3-pointer and hit another 3 that made it 57-46 with 2:23 left in the period. Plenette Pierson added a free throw on the play.

Rodgers finished with 13 points while Montgomery and Charles each had 12.

---

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Diggins, Shock edge Sky in OT

Diggins, Shock edge Sky in OT

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Skylar Diggins scored a career-high 33 points, Glory Johnson had 22 and the Tulsa Shock beat the Chicago Sky 105-99 in overtime on Sunday in a nationally televised game that showcased the WNBA's pride campaign.

Odyssey Sims added 18 points for the Shock (5-7), who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Jessica Breland scored a career-high 26 points and Epiphanny Prince added 24 for the Sky (6-7), who have lost six of seven.

Sky forward Elena Delle Donne, the 2013 WNBA rookie of the year, missed her fifth straight game due to a Lyme disease flare-up.

The Shock was 21 for 27 at the free throw line and 10 of 17 from beyond the arc.

In overtime, Jordan Hooper hit a 3 to give Tulsa a 102-99 lead with 59.7 seconds left. Courtney Paris blocked a Jamierra Faulkner shot and Diggins made a jumper for a 104-99 lead with 32.2 seconds left.

Breland fouled out with 3:21 left as Tulsa led 92-91.

Hooper hit a 3 and Johnson made a layup to cut the lead to 86-85 with 59.3 seconds left in regulation. The Sky's Markeisha Gatling hit a bank shot with 39.8 seconds remaining, but Johnson completed a three-point play to tie it with 19.7 seconds left.

Prince missed a jumper and Breland a putback shot with under a second left.

The pride campaign celebrates inclusion and equality and combats anti-LGBT bias. The WNBA is the first pro sports league to specifically recruit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender fans to its games.

All 12 teams have a pride initiative, and they are participating in pride festivals and parades, working with advocacy groups and advertising with the LGBT media. Players and staff walked in the Chicago Pride parade and have participated in meet-and-greet events with fans.

''We know the LGBT community, and particularly the lesbian segment of the LGBT community, has been with us since the very beginning, a very, very knowledgeable and passionate segment of our audience,'' WNBA President Laurel Richie said before the game. ''So my job is to always make sure those who are supportive and passionate of the league know we really appreciate them being terrific fans.''

The Shock got off to a strong start and led 27-24 after the first quarter after shooting 5 of 5 from 3-point range.

The Sky held the Shock to 11 points in the second quarter to take a 48-38 halftime lead. Allie Quigley made three 3-pointers during a 10-2 run to put the Sky ahead 34-29. Tulsa shot 5 of 19 and Diggins was scoreless in the second quarter after scoring eight points in the first.

The Shock pulled within two with two minutes left in the third quarter, but Quigley and Faulkner each completed a three-point play and the Sky led 68-62 before the final quarter.

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Griner scores career-high 28 as Mercury beat Shock

Griner scores career-high 28 as Mercury beat Shock

PHOENIX (AP) Brittney Griner scored a career-high 28 points, Diana Taurasi added 14 points and a career-high 12 assists, and the Phoenix Mercury beat the Tulsa Shock 91-80 on Friday night.

Penny Taylor had 19 points, including 10 in the first quarter, for first-place Phoenix (9-3), which led by 15 in the second half before having to hold off the Shock. Tulsa pulled within six in the final 7 minutes.

Glory Johnson had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Shock (4-7), who lost back-to-back nights to Los Angeles and Phoenix after winning four straight.

Tulsa center Courtney Paris added 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Phoenix improved to 5-1 at home and kept Tulsa the league's only team winless on the road at 0-6.

Skylar Diggins, fifth in the league in scoring at 18.9 points per game, was held to 12 on 4-of-15 shooting. She had seven assists.

Coming off a big night on Wednesday in a win over Minnesota, Griner shot 12 for 14 from the field, grabbed four rebounds and added six blocked shots.

The second-year standout had a then-career-best 27 points and career high-tying 18 rebounds against the Lynx.

The teams split their first two meetings this season, each having won at home.

The Mercury led by as much as 11 in the first half but Tulsa closed to 45-38 at the break, led by Johnson's 12 points.

Sparked by Taurasi's four-point play, the Mercury ran off a 16-4 spurt in the third quarter to open up a 65-50 lead with 3:30 left.

However, Tulsa bounced back with its inside game as Paris got a couple of easy putbacks to pull the Shock to 66-59 going into the final period. The margin could have been closer but Jennifer Lacy missed three of four free throws in the final minute of the quarter.

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Moore, limping Augustus lead Lynx past Mystics

Moore, limping Augustus lead Lynx past Mystics

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After limping across the locker room and painfully sitting down on the chair in front of her locker, Seimone Augustus was still somehow able to smile.

Playing with an injury that hurt with every step she took, Augustus scored 19 points and the Minnesota Lynx beat the Washington Mystics 75-65 Friday night.

''I gotta do what I gotta do,'' she said. ''Fifty percent of me is better than none of me on the court just to be able to be out there and help my team. It's tough, but I'm just excited to be out there.''

Augustus returned after missing Wednesday's loss in Phoenix due to left knee bursitis.

''It's not really the knee, it's below the knee,'' said Augustus, who estimated the pain level at an eight or nine. ''It's pretty painful.''

Maya Moore had 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to help the defending champion Lynx (10-4) win for the second time in five games. Lindsay Whalen scored 12 points.

Kia Vaughn had 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for Washington (5-8), which lost its third straight and sixth in seven. Kara Lawson added 14 points.

Showing no signs of caution, Augustus made a 3-pointer, then scored on a spin move for a bucket in the opening minutes.

''She's a leader,'' Moore said. ''She just sets the way and leads the way of how you carry yourself when you play through pain. It fires me up and everybody else up.''

Eight points by Moore - including two 3-pointers - and six points by Augustus keyed a 26-7 run bridging the first and second quarters to give the Lynx a 35-18 lead.

Kara Lawson made two 3s and Bria Hartley scored four points as Washington countered with a 16-4 run to get within five points before Minnesota scored the final four points of the quarter for a 43-34 halftime lead.

Moore scored on a turnaround, Augustus hit a jumper and Moore made a driving layup to put the Lynx up 55-42 in the third quarter. A 3 by Moore and a jumper from Augustus put Minnesota up 65-51 early in the fourth.

''I'll take Seimone on a bad day any day of the week, twice on Sunday,'' Minnesota center Janel McCarville said.

Washington pulled within nine on a jumper by Hartley with 3:08 to play, but got no closer.

''I'm not walking out of here as frustrated as you might think after a loss just because the things we've been working to get better at we did a little better,'' Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. ''We've been turning it over too much and we didn't tonight.''

The Mystics had nine turnovers, just two in the second half.

However, long-distance shooting remains an issue. Washington, which entered the game shooting a league-worst 29.8 percent from beyond the arc, was 5 for 23.

''We're awful right now,'' Thibault said. ''We have good 3-point shooters who are not making shots. ... Teams right now have decided they're going to make us shoot those shots.''

Gutting out a win at home was crucial for the struggling Lynx, who host Indiana on Sunday in the last of a six-games-in-10-days stretch.

''We've got a tired group. We feel like we're running in mud and we told them we just got to keep fighting and get through it,'' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

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Christmas scores 14 as Fever beat Sky 83-75

Christmas scores 14 as Fever beat Sky 83-75

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Karima Christmas scored 14 points to lead a balanced Indiana offense as the Fever beat the Chicago Sky 83-75 on Friday night.

Natasha Howard, Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous added 13 points each for the Fever (6-5). Marissa Coleman scored 12 points.

Epiphanny Prince had 18 points and Jessica Breland scored 16 for the Sky (6-6), who have lost five of six.

Both teams were without star players. Sky leading scorer Elena Delle Donne missed her fourth straight game due to a Lyme disease flare up. Chicago's Sylvia Fowles (hip) and Indiana's Tamika Catchings (back) have yet to play this season.

Breland hit a jumper to cut Indiana's lead to 75-73 with 1:05 left.

Larkins answered with a layup to extend the Fever's lead to four with 41.3 seconds remaining. After a Chicago turnover, Zellous made a driving layup with 29 seconds left.

Prince responded with a jumper to make it a four-point game again 6 seconds later.

However, the Fever made four free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal it.

The Fever finished 28 for 35 from the free-throw line. They shot 41.5 percent from the field to the Sky's 49.3 percent. Chicago was 7 of 16 on free throws.

The Sky opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run and led 59-58 before the final quarter.

The Fever led by 10 in the second quarter before the Sky rallied. Prince's layup tied the game at 38 with 2.3 seconds left before halftime but she missed her free throw. On the rebound, Indiana's Natasha Howard was fouled and made both free throws to put the Fever up 40-38 at the break.

The Fever led 19-17 after the first quarter. The Sky scored the first six points before Indiana went on a 13-2 run.

The Fever improved to 28-7 in the regular season against the Sky. Indiana also swept Chicago in the first round of playoffs last season.

Chicago rallied from 18 points down to beat Indiana 74-71 on May 16 in the season opener.

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McCoughtry scores 18 to lead Dream past Liberty

McCoughtry scores 18 to lead Dream past Liberty

ATLANTA (AP) Angel McCoughtry scored 18 points and had plenty of help as the Atlanta the Dream rolled to an 85-64 win over the New York Liberty on Friday night for their sixth straight victory.

Five Atlanta players scored in double figures even though playing time was limited for starters in the fourth quarter as the Dream took a 70-53 lead into the final period. Tiffany Hayes finished with 16 points for Atlanta (9-3), rookie reserve guard Shoni Shimmel scored 14, Erika de Souza had 11 and Aneika Henry 10.

Former Georgia Tech standout Alex Montgomery led New York (3-10) with 11 points and DeLisha Milton-Jones had 10. The Liberty lost their fifth straight.

New York's leading scorers, Tina Charles (averaging 17.3 points per game) and Cappie Pondexter (15.9), were held to six points each on a combined 6-for-20 shooting. That was a season low for Charles.

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Parker scores 24 in Sparks' 87-77 win over Shock

Parker scores 24 in Sparks' 87-77 win over Shock

LOS ANGELES (AP) Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks were glad to put their longest losing streak in three years behind them.

Candace Parker scored 24 points and the Sparks snapped a four-game losing streak with an 87-77 win over the Tulsa Shock on Thursday night.

Parker scored 16 of the Sparks' 25 third-quarter points and finished with seven rebounds and six assists. Alana Beard added 20 points and Jantel Lavender had 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds as the Sparks (4-7) ended their longest skid since they lost four in a row in 2011.

''After losing four, you kind of forget the feeling of what it is to leave a game and win,'' Parker said. ''I think it feels good, but don't think that this won the championship or anything like that. But it's a good start.''

Parker scored the final seven points of the third quarter for the Sparks, including a pair of free throws to put them ahead, 70-49. She made eight of 10 free throw attempts in a ragged third quarter that included 11 fouls by Tulsa.

The Shock took a 50-43 lead early in the third before Los Angeles pulled away on a 12-2 run. The Sparks outscored Tulsa 25-16 in the third after being outscored 29-16 and 32-15 in the third quarters of the previous two games.

''We know that we play really well closing out games,'' Lindsey Harding said. ''We're strong. We fight. We know that. We had this mentality that we've got the fourth quarter. We just need to really focus on the third.''

The Sparks avoided their worst start since they went 3-8 in 2010.

''Obviously this is a great win, a great step,'' Harding said. ''But there is a lot of stuff for us to work on.''

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike left the game with a bruised nose after she was hit underneath the basket with 5:37 left in the third quarter. She will be re-evaluated Friday, a team official said.

Glory Johnson had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Skylar Diggins added 16 points for Tulsa (4-6), which saw its four-game winning streak end.

The Shock never got within single-digits in the fourth quarter but did outscore the Sparks 25-16 in the final 10 minutes. Tulsa's streak was its longest since it relocated from Detroit.

''Tonight we got beat by a team that really wanted to get a victory, and we wanted to keep the streak,'' Tulsa coach Fred Williams said. ''Playing against the Sparks, it's not easy to play against them on the road, but that will change.''

Lavender had 14 points and Beard 13 on a combined 12-for-18 shooting to help the Sparks take a 46-36 lead at halftime. Parker largely stayed on the perimeter and had eight points, five rebounds and four assists.

Diggins did not make a field goal until hitting a floater with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter, but finished with 10 points in the first half. She made four straight baskets and Jordan Hooper made a 3-pointer to get Tulsa to 40-34 before the Sparks ran off six of the final eight points of the first half.

The Sparks took a 29-18 lead after the first quarter and Parker made a 3-pointer to give the Sparks their biggest lead of the first half at 32-18.

NOTES: Sparks guard Kristi Toliver missed a fourth straight game because she is training with the Slovakian national team and likely won't be available until the end of this month. ... Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks attended the game.

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Results for July 2014

Moore, Lynx end Mercury's 16-game win streak

Moore, Lynx end Mercury's 16-game win streak

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) With the WNBA playoffs about three weeks away, the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury gave a peek at what the postseason could bring.

Maya Moore scored 20 points to power the Lynx to a 75-67 victory Thursday night, snapping the Mercury's franchise-record 16-game win streak.

Seimone Augustus added 19 points for Minnesota (21-6), which won its eighth straight.

''We kept believing, stayed with it, kept sharing the ball,'' Moore said after the Lynx shot just 38 percent but frustrated the Mercury with defense. ''Nobody was trying to individually do it on their own.''

The teams have clinched the top two spots in the West and home-court advantage in the first round. Phoenix, which won the first two matchups, had its lead for the top seed cut to 1 1/2 games.

Brittney Griner scored 18 points for the Mercury (22-4), who lost for the first time since June 12. Phoenix's streak was the second-longest in WNBA history, trailing only Los Angeles' 18-game run in 2001.

Phoenix came in leading the league at nearly 50 percent shooting from the field, but was just 37 percent (25 for 68) against the Lynx - led by Diana Taurasi's 5-for-21 effort.

''You won't see Diana shoot like that very often, but she also got a lot of attention,'' Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. ''Could she have gotten a few more calls? Yes, definitely. Maybe we'll get them next time. But she's a competitor. She'll bounce back.''

Taurasi finished with 10 points, going 0-of-7 on 3-point attempts, and was whistled for five fouls, including a technical. She offered some sarcastic commentary on the physical nature of the game.

''We've got to get better at football. We will,'' she said. ''If we have to put our helmets on, that's what we're going to have to do from here on out. Like I said, we'll be ready to play football next time.''

After missing their first seven shots, Minnesota used an 11-0 run to take a 21-10 lead into the second quarter. It was quite a change for the Mercury, who have been burying teams early over the course of their record hot streak.

''I remember thinking that we were very fortunate, because if our defense wasn't as good as it was, and we're not making shots, we've got a problem,'' Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''Every time you play Phoenix, the first quarter is really important. These guys have had double-figure leads in the first half almost every time they've played in this streak. So we were really locked in.''

By halftime, Phoenix had cut the Lynx lead to 39-36 thanks to 12 points from Griner and 11 from Penny Taylor, who finished with 16. Lindsay Whalen scored Minnesota's last six points of the first half, leading the team with nine at the break.

The Lynx led 52-51 at the start of the fourth quarter, but found some breathing room near the seven-minute mark when Moore hit back-to-back 3s to open up a 12-point advantage.

Taurasi's jumper with 1:28 to play pulled the Mercury to 69-65, but they would get no closer.

The Lynx visit the Mercury on Aug. 9 in the teams' final regular-season meeting.

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Fowles, Quigley lead Sky past Liberty 87-74

Fowles, Quigley lead Sky past Liberty 87-74

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Elena Delle Donne is happy to be playing again and the Chicago Sky are glad to have her back.

Delle Donne, playing for the first time since June 25 while dealing with a recurrence of Lyme disease, scored 10 points in the Sky's 87-74 victory over the New York Liberty on Thursday night.

''It's just awesome to be back with the team competing,'' said Delle Donne, who shot 3 for 8 from the field in about 10 1/2 minutes. ''I feel really good and I'm happy we were able to keep the minutes down because it's something I'm going to have to build on.''

Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and 14 rebounds, reserve guard Allie Quigley also scored 16 and Jameirra Faulkner added 14 to help Chicago (11-16) snap a two-game skid and move a half-game behind New York for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

''It was definitely emotional having her back,'' Fowles said. ''So you go out there with an extra edge.''

Tamera Young had 12 and Epiphanny Prince 11 for the Sky.

Tina Charles scored 15 points, Cappie Pondexter had 14, and Avery Warley-Talbert and Plenette Pierson had 10 apiece for the Liberty (11-15), who have lost two of their last three.

Leading 65-61 entering the fourth quarter, Chicago scored seven consecutive points to take a double-digit lead with 7:41 left.

New York got no closer than nine again.

Delle Donne tied the score at 43 with her first field goal of the game, with 7:03 to go in the third quarter. She added a 3 pointer 43 seconds later as Chicago went on to give the Sky the four point lead heading to the final period.

Delle Donne, the 2013 WNBA rookie of the year, missed 17 of the Sky's previous 18 games. She missed five games starting on June 10, played 17 minutes and scored 13 points on July 25 against Connecticut and then missed the next 12 games.

The Sky lost 12 of 17 in her absence and eight of their last 10 coming in.

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Delle Donne Set to Return

Delle Donne Set to Return

CHICAGO, July 31, 2014 - Sky guard/forward Elena Delle Donne will be available for tonight's game against the New York Liberty. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. CT at Allstate Arena. Fans can watch the game on The U Too and WNBA Live Access.
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West Powers Collide: What's At Stake in Thursday's Mercury vs. Lynx Showdown

West Powers Collide: What's At Stake in Thursday's Mercury vs. Lynx Showdown

It doesn't get much bigger in the WNBA's regular season than Thursday night's matchup between the 22-3 Phoenix Mercury and 20-6 Minnesota Lynx (NBA TV, 8 PM ET).

The game will feature: two teams that have won a combined 42 of the 51 games they've played this season, including 23 straight; a team that has won two of the past three WNBA titles against a rising potential dynasty; six of this year's 12 West Conference All-Stars; and this season's top scorer and the league's No. 2 all-time leading scorer - to rattle off just some of their credentials.

Here's what's at stake in Thursday's showdown in Minneapolis:

1. West Conference Supremacy

Phoenix sits 2.5 games ahead of Minnesota at the top of the West, with the East's Atlanta Dream trailing behind by 3.5 games for the WNBA's best record. Just 18 days remain in the regular season, and gaining the top seed and home court advantage in the playoffs would make either team instant favorites: They are both virtually unbeatable at home, with matching 12-1 records.

2. A Pair of Winning Streaks

The last time either the Phoenix or Minnesota lost was 25 days ago. But it's the Mercury - riding a 16-game winning streak, the second-longest ever in the WNBA - who are putting history on the line on Thursday, three victories away from surpassing the 2001 Sparks' record 18-game streak.

The Lynx have won a more modest seven straight, but are capable of extending that run into the playoffs if they can get past Phoenix.

3. Points in the MVP Race

Maya Moore, in the midst of one of the greatest individual seasons in WNBA history, has been the MVP favorite since opening night. And she's cemented that status with each scoring outburst, from her four straight 30+-point games to kick off the season to her 48-point special nine days ago. Yet all-time great Diana Taurasi has been narrowing the gap by the day. There's no better way to state her case for her second MVP trophy than by defeating Moore's Lynx for the third time this season and gaining the upper hand for the league's best record.

4. Even More History

The best of the rest: Phoenix is aiming for the winningest season in league history, needing to win seven of its last nine games to surpass the current record of 28.

Mercury center Brittney Griner is 18 blocks away from breaking Margo Dydek's single-season record of 114; her current 3.9 blocks per game average would surpass Dydek's record 3.8 in 1998.

Moore's scoring average of 24.3 points per game would rank second all-time to Taurasi's 25.3 in 2006. She would need to average just under 29 points over her next eight games to pull it off.

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Mercury cruise past Sparks for 16th straight win

Mercury cruise past Sparks for 16th straight win

PHOENIX (AP) Diana Taurasi scored 17 points to help the Phoenix Mercury cruise to their 16th straight win, 90-69 over the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday night.

The win gave Phoenix (22-3) the second-longest win streak in league history, passing Houston's 15-game streak in 1998 and moving two games shy of the WNBA mark of 18 straight by Los Angeles in 2001.

Candice Dupree had 16 points and nine rebounds while Brittney Griner added 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots for the Mercury. Taurasi and Griner both sat out the fourth quarter.

The Mercury also won their 11th straight at home, tying a franchise mark set in 1999.

Nneka Ogwumike had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Sparks (12-15), who are now 2-3 since general manager Penny Toler took over as coach during the All-Star break. Los Angeles has lost four of six overall.

The Sparks played for the second consecutive game without leading scorer Candace Parker, who remained in California nursing a left knee strain.

Kristi Tolliver added 14 points and seven assists for the Sparks, who kept it close for more than a half.

Phoenix used a third-quarter run to break open a three-point game at halftime. The Mercury scored 12 straight points, using its break and scoring twice off of steals, to take a 62-45 lead with 3:08 left in the period.

Phoenix led 66-51 going into the fourth quarter and did not allow Los Angeles to get any closer than 11 points.

The Mercury, who lead the league in scoring and hold opponents to the fewest points, were 39.5 percent from the field while allowing Los Angeles to shoot 58 percent although Phoenix still led 42-39 at the break.

Los Angeles scored eight straight points in the first quarter to take a 24-20 lead. The Sparks held the league's best offensive team to 7-for-21 shooting. However, Taurasi and Shay Murphy hit 3-pointers during a 10-0 run that gave Phoenix a 32-27 lead with 6:20 left in the first half.

Phoenix has beaten Los Angeles in its previous three meetings earlier this season.

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McBride scores 16 as Stars beat Sky 92-74

McBride scores 16 as Stars beat Sky 92-74

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kayla McBride scored 16 points to lead a balanced offense and the San Antonio Stars rolled to a 92-74 victory over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night.

Danielle Adams had 14 points, Sophia Young-Malcolm added 12 and Shenise Johnson 11 for San Antonio (13-14). Jia Perkins scored 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting in her first game in a month.

Epiphanny Prince had 23 points, Jamierra Faulkner added 16 and Sylvia Fowles scored 14 for Chicago (10-16).

The loss, combined with New York's 80-76 overtime victory against Washington, dropped the Sky 1 1/2 games behind the Liberty for the East's fourth and final playoff spot.

Trailing 48-37 at the break, Chicago opened the second half on a 9-4 run before veterans Hammon and Young-Malcolm helped San Antonio regain its footing. The Stars led 70-56 lead entering the fourth.

Each team made its first four shots and combined to shoot 62 percent from the field in the opening period.

Prince had all but one of the Sky's first four baskets and Becky Hammon capped the Stars' run with a 3-pointer to give them a 9-8 lead with 7:47 left in the first quarter.

Prince had 16 points in the first quarter, going 6 for 7 on a series of midrange jumpers and drives, but had only seven points the rest of the game.

San Antonio had 10 assists on its 11 baskets in the first quarter and finished with 27 assists.

Johnson's 3-pointer gave San Antonio a 34-24 lead with 7:38 remaining in the half.

Chicago cooled after a hot start, going scoreless for nearly 5 minutes bridging the first and second quarters as San Antonio built a 36-24 lead.

After missing 11 games since straining a hamstring June 26 against Atlanta, Perkins received a loud ovation upon entering 3 minutes into the second quarter. She missed her first 3-point attempt before making her next two and a running jumper to give San Antonio a 44-29 lead with 4 minutes left in the first half.

The Sky are still without starters Elena Delle Donne and point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who is out with a knee injury. Delle Donne, who has missed all but nine games due to Lyme disease, could return for Thursday's home game against New York.

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Sims scores 21 to lead Shock past Storm, 80-74

Sims scores 21 to lead Shock past Storm, 80-74

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Odyssey Sims scored 21 points, Glory Johnson had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and the Tulsa Shock beat the Seattle Storm 80-74 Tuesday night.

Roneeka Hodges added a season-high 16 points and Skylar Diggins had 11 to become the Shock's single-season scoring leader with 564 points. Johnson's double-double was her 15th of the season for Tulsa (10-17).

Sue Bird scored 15 points and Tanisha Wright added 14 for Seattle (9-19). Camille Little and Crystal Langhorne had 13 points apiece.

Diggins entered the game needing seven points to become the franchise's single-season scoring leader. Deanna Nolan held the previous mark of 559, set in 2009 when the team was still in Detroit.

Diggins struggled to get any offense going in the first half, as the second-year guard was 1 for 5 from the field with four points. Diggins made a 3-pointer to open the second half to break Nolan's record.

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Charles, Rodgers help Liberty beat Mystics in OT

Charles, Rodgers help Liberty beat Mystics in OT

NEW YORK (AP) Tina Charles scored 23 points, Sugar Rodgers had five points and two huge defensive plays in overtime, and the New York Liberty beat the Washington Mystics 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Liberty (11-14) blew a 15-point lead in the third quarter before pulling out their fourth win in five games.

Trailing 73-71 in the extra period, Plenette Pierson made a tying jumper with 2 1/2 minutes left. Rodgers then scored five straight, hitting a deep 3-pointer and a runner to put New York up 78-73 with 1:02 to go.

Bria Hartley, who sent the game into OT with a tying layup with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation, made a 3 with 56 seconds to go. Pierson made two free throws with 9.9 seconds left and Rodgers came up with two jump balls in the final seconds to seal the win.

Kia Vaughn had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Mystics (13-14), snapped a four-game winning streak.

Washington coach Mike Thibault's young team had a great rally to even send this game to overtime.

New York led 56-41 with 1:24 left in the third quarter before the Mystics got it going. Ivory Latta hit a 3-pointer to start a 25-10 run and Stefanie Dolson tied the score at 66 with 1:55 remaining. Charles answered with a runner in the lane to give New York the lead. After Washington came up empty on its possession, Anna Cruz hit a jumper from the corner to make it 70-66.

Washington wasn't done as Kara Lawson converted a three-point play with 22.7 seconds left. After New York turned over the inbounds pass, Rodgers stripped Monique Currie and hit a free throw to make it 71-69.

Both teams are in the thick of the playoff race. New York is in fourth, a game behind Washington, which was trying to move above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2010 when the Mystics finished first in the Eastern Conference.

New York led 23-18 in the second quarter before scoring 10 straight points to build a double-digit lead. The Liberty led 40-26 in the closing seconds of the half before Latta stole the ball and scored to give Washington a little momentum. The Liberty seized it right back as Alex Montgomery swished a 3 from beyond half-court at the halftime buzzer to make it 43-28.

---

Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg .

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McCoughtry's 25 points lead Dream past Sun 89-80

McCoughtry's 25 points lead Dream past Sun 89-80

ATLANTA (AP) Angel McCoughtry rediscovered her shooting touch with 25 points Tuesday, helping the Atlanta Dream snap a four-game losing streak with an 89-80 win over the Connecticut Sun.

Atlanta (16-9) remains in first place in the Eastern Conference, 3 1-2 games ahead of Washington. McCoughtry shot 10-for-16 from the field and Tiffany Hayes added a career-tying 23 points in a matinee game in Philips Arena.

Kelsey Bone led Connecticut with 18 points and 13 rebounds, rookie Alyssa Thomas added 17 points and Chiney Ogwumike had 16, but the Sun (10-17) lost their fourth straight game.

Atlanta won its first game under assistant coach Karleen Thompson. The Dream lost three straight after head coach Michael Cooper took a medical leave of absence July 21 after being diagnosed with tongue cancer. He had surgery last week.

McCoughtry shot just 34.7 percent in the previous four games. She said the team's skid wasn't related to Cooper's absence, but a failure of players taking care of business.

''We're professionals and no matter who we have on the bench, we still know how to play the game and sometimes coach ourselves,'' McCoughtry said. ''Sometimes, coach Cooper mostly sits on the sidelines and lets us figure it out anyway.''

McCoughtry added seven rebounds and four steals, and forward Sancho Lyttle had 14 boards to help Atlanta outrebound Connecticut 41-32. Atlanta was outrebounded in every game during the losing streak.

''We haven't quite figured out how to impose our will,'' said Sun coach Anne Donovan. ''Hayes is the one that really got away from us today, and their experience in the post is tough for our post players.''

Atlanta led 44-41 at halftime and pushed it to 73-63 on Hayes' layup with 7:21 left. The Sun countered with eight straight points.

After Katie Douglas scored on a runner to pull Connecticut within 73-71, Thompson called timeout with 4:41 to go. The Dream scored six points out of the timeout and weren't threatened again.

Cooper had surgery on July 24, and team spokesman Brad Gust said Tuesday the timeline for his return remained at two weeks. Atlanta improved to 11-3 at home.

''It was a much-needed win for us, a good team win, with everything that is going on with Coach Cooper,'' Thompson said. ''We wanted to get more points in the paint and attack the basket. They did well with that, our guards attacking from the perimeter and we controlled the boards.''

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Race to the MVP: Week 11

Race to the MVP: Week 11

Race to the MVP is WNBA.com’s weekly feature where we evaluate who’s getting closer to that coveted crown. Starting this week, post All-Star Break, the list has been narrowed to five spots to reflect the amount of play left in the season.

It should come as no surprise that Maya Moore is still the frontrunner after she won Western Conference Player of the Week for the third week in a row.

#1 MAYA MOORE

Maya Moore had a near record-breaking performance on July 22 when she scored 48 points (three shy of the WNBA record) against the Atlanta Dream in a game that WNBA fans won't soon forget.

On top of that she's also helped lead Minnesota on a seven-game winning streak. With only three weeks left until playoffs and the Lynx playing as well as they are, it will be tough to unseat Maya from the top spot. The Lynx have just seven games left on their schedule.

#2 DIANA TAURASI

LAST WEEK: #3

Diana Taurasi is likely the only player who can compete with Maya Moore's performance this year. Though her numbers are statistically less than Moore's, she has led her team on a 15-game winning streak that has lifted the Mercury to not only best in the West status, but best in the league with a 21-3 record.

This week, Taurasi had 22, 18 and 15 points to carry Phoenix past Seattle, Los Angeles and New York. They are now three games away from the all-time WNBA record for most consecutive wins.

#3 ANGEL McCOUGHTRY

LAST WEEK: #2

Unfortunately, the Atlanta Dream had a little bit of a setback this week with a couple losses in a row, including the overtime thriller with Minnesota. Angel McCoughtry, however, is still making a strong case for MVP.

Atlanta is still the best team in the East (by quite a bit) and Angel has led them to success. She still leads the league in steals and is fourth in the WNBA in scoring.

#4 BRITTNEY GRINER

Brittney Griner is another reason why Phoenix is so hot at the moment. She had 17, 18 and 18 points over the last three games and a total of 14 blocks. Griner is only a little behind Taurasi on the list because of slightly lower numbers while Taurasi's veteran leadership puts her over the edge.

Phoenix has just 10 games left to play, including two against Minnesota, which could end up being a preview of the Western Conference Finals and would pit Maya Moore against Taurasi and Griner.

#5 CANDACE PARKER

LAST WEEK: #4

Although reigning MVP Candace Parker still has very strong numbers, at this point in the season Los Angeles is lower on the standings than many expected. That said, the Sparks are sitting at fourth in the West right now and are likely to secure a playoff berth.

This week Parker put up 14 and 19 points (19 in their win against Seattle) which leaves her in the running for the MVP, but it remains unlikely that she'll rival Moore or Taurasi.

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Essence Carson Receives Community Assist Award

Essence Carson Receives Community Assist Award

NEW YORK, July 29, 2014 -- Essence Carson of the New York Liberty was awarded June’s WNBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by State Farm for her numerous charitable contributions and dedication to community service.

Carson attended a rehearsal for the Garden of Dreams Foundation’s annual Talent Show, where she met with contestants and watched their acts. The show featured more than 80 children from partner organizations affiliated with the Garden of Dreams Foundation. The Garden of Dreams is a non-profit organization working to brighten the lives of children and families afflicted with everything from extreme poverty to illness.

Carson and her Liberty teammates have dedicated their time to children across New York City, including participating in a chef tasting event to raise money to help promote drug-free living and prevent alcohol abuse. Carson also volunteered at a wheelchair basketball clinic for 40 middle school students and took part in a Bronx Zoo visit with 30 children from the Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services.

"I believe community outreach is very important," said Carson. "It’s not what the world can do for you but what you can do for the world."

In recognition of her efforts, the WNBA and State Farm will donate $7,500 to the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

The WNBA Community Assist Award presented by State Farm is awarded monthly during the season to the player that best reflects the WNBA’s passion to make a difference in the community. Please visit wnba.com/statefarmcommunityassist for more information on the award and its recipients.

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Ivory Latta, Maya Moore Named Players of the Week

Ivory Latta, Maya Moore Named Players of the Week

NEW YORK, July 28, 2014 -- Ivory Latta of the Washington Mystics and Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx were named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played July 21 through July 27.

For Latta, this Player of the Week award is her first of the season and the fourth of her career. For the week, Latta led the East in assists (5.3 apg), ranked second in scoring (20.3 ppg), and third in both field goal percentage (.564, 22-of-39) and three-point shooting percentage (.500, 12-of-14).

Latta led the Mystics to a 3-0 record with consecutive home wins over Connecticut, Tulsa and Atlanta. The wins extended the Mystics’ current winning streak to four games and vaulted Washington into second place in the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 13-13. The WNBA All-Star began the week with 23 points, six assists, and three rebounds in an 89-75 win over the Sun. Two days later against the Shock, she tallied 17 points and four assists in an 82-77 win. To close out the week, Latta handed the Dream its fourth straight loss, posting 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists.

For the season, the University of North Carolina product is leading the Mystics in scoring (12.3 ppg) and is tied for first on the team in assists (3.3 apg).

This Player of the Week honor is Moore’s league-leading fourth of the season, her third in as many weeks, and the ninth such honor of her career. For the week, Moore shared the scoring lead in the West with Tulsa’s Odyssey Sims (25.7 ppg), tied for third in the conference in rebounds (8.3 rpg), ranked fourth in three-point shooting percentage (.467, 7-of-15), and placed ninth in assists (4.0 apg).

Moore helped the Lynx to a 3-0 mark for the week as Minnesota became the second club in the Western Conference to clinch a playoff berth. In a thrilling 112-108 double-overtime win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream, Moore registered a double-double with 48 points and 10 rebounds. The 48 points were the second most in a single game in league history and marked the 10th time this season that Moore scored 30 or more points in a game, tying a WNBA record set by Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi in 2008. Against the Dream, Moore shot 16-of-30 from the floor, including seven-of-nine from three-point range. Moore closed out her week by scoring a game-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists in a 76-65 victory over Connecticut.

For the season, Moore leads the league in scoring (24.3 ppg), ranks eighth in rebounding (8.3 rpg), and is tied for fourth in steals (1.92 spg).

Other candidates for WNBA Player of the Week in the Eastern Conference were Atlanta’s Sancho Lyttle, Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles, Connecticut’s Kelsey Bone, and New York’s Tina Charles. Additional candidates in the Western Conference were Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner, Seattle’s Crystal Langhorne, and Tulsa’s Odyssey Sims.

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Ogwumike helps Sparks edge Fever 77-73

Ogwumike helps Sparks edge Fever 77-73

LOS ANGELES (AP) Nneka Ogwumike scored 21 points and Alana Beard added 17 to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Indiana Fever 77-73 on Monday night.

Ogwumike scored the final four points for the Sparks (12-14), who snapped a five-game home losing streak, dating to their last home win on June 24. She slipped behind the defense to take a pass from Kristi Toliver for an open layup and then made two free throws with five seconds remaining for a 77-73 lead.

Beard scored the go-ahead basket at 73-72 on a jumper from the right side. Indiana had chances to tie in the final seconds but Briann January missed twice and Indiana (12-14) had to foul after it could not secure the rebound on Karima Christmas' intentionally missed free throw.

Sparks leading scorer and rebounder Candace Parker sat out with a left knee strain, and guard Lindsey Harding missed her second straight game with a sore right foot.

Tamika Catchings led the Fever with 16 points and January had 12. Erlana Larkins had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

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Moore lifts Lynx to 76-65 win over Sun

Moore lifts Lynx to 76-65 win over Sun

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) The Minnesota Lynx finally have their WNBA championship team back together.

Maya Moore had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help Minnesota beat the Connecticut Sun 76-65 on Sunday.

Rebekkah Brunson had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Lynx (20-6) and Janel McCarville had 11 points and seven rebounds. Seimone Augustus also scored 13.

Kelsey Bone had 15 points and nine rebounds and Alyssa Thomas added eight points and nine rebounds for the Sun (10-16), who have lost 10 of 12.

It was just the second game in which defending WNBA champion Minnesota had its entire team available. Brunson missed the first 24 games after knee surgery. Augustus returned Friday after being out eight games with a knee injury.

''It's been nice having the depth that we have,'' Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''Whay and Maya, J-Mac, Tan (White) and Monie (Monica Wright) just really held the fort down. We've have a lot to be proud of.

''There's a lot of people who could've handled it differently and felt sorry for ourselves. Maya has been terrific, as you guys know, in this run. Whalen has been really, really good and above her (scoring) average. They're just warriors; just that competitive drive that fuels them every day. It's fun to be around.''

It was another frustrating game for Connecticut as it needed a late surge to push its field goal percentage to just under 33 percent.

''(Minnesota) is one of the best teams in the league,'' Bone said. ''Tonight, it really came down to shots falling. I think if we could have hit a couple of more outside jumpers and force them to play a little more defense, you'd see a different ball game.''

Minnesota led for all but 47 seconds in the first quarter. Tan White's 3-pointer gave the Lynx a 17-16 lead with 3:08 left in the first quarter and they never relinquished it.

McCarville banked in a 3-pointer to give the Lynx their biggest lead, 57-40, with over a minute left in the third quarter.

Connecticut managed to rally despite its offensive woes. Katie Douglas' 3-pointer with over a minute left cut the Sun's deficit to 72-65.

''I was pleased tonight that we didn't lose our focus defensively,'' Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. ''Too often in our past we have not knocked shots down and the game gets away from us. I liked what we did. . We just didn't knock shots down.''

The Lynx shot 48 percent.

''There is no question we have had more struggles than other teams in the league over the past season with injuries and other aspects that have made our season harder than usual,'' Moore said. ''Now that we have overcome some of those obstacles - and we are not where we want to be yet - but we have everything that we need to get there now that everyone is healthy and locked in.

''I like having the cards in our hands now and it is up to us.''

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Johnson leads Shock to 79-69 win over Sky

Johnson leads Shock to 79-69 win over Sky

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Glory Johnson scored 14 of her 15 points in the second half and had 11 rebounds to help the Tulsa Shock beat the Chicaog Sky 79-69 on Sunday.

It was just just Tulsa's second win in its last nine games.

Unable to find its offensive rhythm for most of the first three quarters, Tulsa finally found its stride finishing the third with an 11-2 run. Odyssey Sims tied the game 56-56 with a driving layup with 18.8 seconds left in the period.

Through the game's first 27 minutes, Tulsa (9-17) had just 11 field goals and four assists. The Shock made 13 field goals on 11 assists over the game's final 13 minutes.

Tulsa continued its push to open the fourth quarter, with an 8-2 burst forcing two Chicago timeouts. The Shock led 66-58 edge with 7:40 to play. Two of those points came from Johnson, who had seven points in the final quarter.

Chicago (10-15) would get no closer than six points the rest of the game.

Allie Quigley and Epiphanny Prince each scored 14 points for the Sky, who lost for the seventh time in their last nine games

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Griner leads Mercury to 15th straight victory

Griner leads Mercury to 15th straight victory

PHOENIX (AP) Brittney Griner scored 18 points and the Phoenix Mercury tied the second-longest winning streak in WNBA history with their 15th straight victory, beating the New York Liberty 78-63 on Saturday night.

The Mercury (21-3) matched the 1998 Houston Comets with the victory and are three short of the league mark set by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001.

Griner also had eight rebounds and six blocks, and Diana Taurasi added 15 points, 10 assists and five rebounds for Phoenix, which clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Tina Charles had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead New York (10-14). The Liberty had won three in a row and six of their last eight.

Phoenix had a 20-point lead and was by at least seven after the first quarter

The Mercury held Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter to 12 points on 6-of-18 shooting. New York got within nine going into the final period but missed its first three shots in the fourth.

The have won by an average of 13.2 points during the winning streak.

Candice Dupree added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Penny Taylor had 10 points for Phoenix, which used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to open up a close game.

New York cut it to 25-20 early in the second, but the Mercury outscored the Liberty 22-10 the rest of the half as New York missed 11 of 15 shots during a key stretch.

New York used a 10-0 run of its own in the third quarter to get back in the game. Plenette Pierson's free throw after Taurasi was hit with a technical foul cut the lead to 55-48 with three minutes left in the period. Phoenix led 60-51 going into the final quarter.

Phoenix has shot better than 50 percent in the last six games, making 31 of 60 on Saturday.

The Mercury's last loss was a 96-95 setback at Connecticut on June 12.

Griner has 94 blocks on the season for a 3.9 average.

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Kizer helps Fever rally to beat Stars 75-68

Kizer helps Fever rally to beat Stars 75-68

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Lynetta Kizer scored 16 points and the Indiana Fever dominated the fourth quarter in rallying for a 75-68 victory over the San Antonio Stars on Saturday night.

Shavonte Zellous added 14 points and Natasha Howard had 11 for Indiana (12-13), which tied Washington for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Becky Hammon scored 18 points and Danielle Robinson added 15 for San Antonio (12-14), which suffered back-to-back losses after losing at Minnesota on Friday night.

In her first home game since announcing her retirement, Hammon showed flashes of former All-Star form. She drove and double-pumped at her hip, spinning the ball off the glass for a layup that pulled the Stars within 55-52 with 8 minutes remaining. She later drained a 3-pointer and drove in for a layup that pulled San Antonio within 74-68 in the final minute, but it wasn't enough.

The Fever dominated the paint in the fourth quarter, with Howard and Kizer forcing their way inside for short jumpers and layups. The duo combined for 16 points in the quarter.

Indiana's dominance came after San Antonio had their way inside early.

Danielle Adams bullied past Tamika Catchings for back-to-back baskets, including a follow of her own miss to give the Stars a 24-16 lead.

Indiana adjusted, going on a 12-0 run beginning midway through the second quarter behind its defense. The Fever fronted the Stars' bigs and their wings denied penetration with their activity, forcing San Antonio into a hurried shot after dribbling out the shot clock. San Antonio had a shot clock violation after Zellous' driving layup tied the game at 34.

Marissa Coleman's 3-pointer with 2 minutes remaining in the half gave Indiana its first lead at 37-34.

San Antonio had five turnovers in the second quarter.

The Fever were scoreless for more than 6 minutes to start the second half, missing its first six shots of the third quarter and allowing the Stars to reclaim a 46-41 lead. Erlana Larkins drained a pair of free throws with 3:45 remaining in the period to end the drought.

Indiana closed the third on a 10-6 run to forge a 51-all tie entering the fourth.

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Ogwumike helps Sparks beat Storm 77-69

Ogwumike helps Sparks beat Storm 77-69

SEATTLE (AP) When the Los Angeles Sparks needed a lift to break open a close game in the second half, Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker took over.

Ogwumike scored 16 of her 22 in the second half and Parker had 13 of her 19 after the break to help the Sparks beat the Seattle Storm 77-69 on Saturday and give general manager Penny Toler her first win as a coach.

Ogwumike scored 11 in the final quarter as the Sparks (11-14) moved three games ahead of the Storm (9-18) for the fourth and final Western Conference playoff berth. Parker scored eight in the third quarter as the Sparks pulled away from a tie at 42.

''I was hoping to get it against New York at home but a win is a win and this is a big one for us,'' said Toler, who will coach for the rest of the season, about her first victory. ''We needed it and they needed a win.''

Toler had lost her first two games after she took over July 20 following the dismissal of coach Carol Ross.

''I think it's great,'' Ogwumike said about Toler's first win. ''Changes happen in seasons and in teams all the time. I think we've done a really great job of maintaining our composure so we can keep going out there and doing what we do best.''

Crystal Langhorne scored 21 and Camille Little added 16 to lead Seattle, which has lost five straight and six of seven. Just seven games remain for the Storm in the regular season as they aim for an 11th straight playoff berth.

''Losing really helped them and hurt us,'' Storm guard Sue Bird said. ''I don't know the exact numbers or how many games we're behind but I know if we want to have a chance we need to take care of our own schedule and hope some teams (above us) lose as well.''

The Sparks are 4-0 against Seattle this year and have clinched any potential tiebreaker.

Little hit a short jumper to tie it at 42 midway through the third quarter before Parker took over. She scored eight, including a 3 just before the third-quarter buzzer, to put the Sparks up 54-44 to conclude a 12-2 run going into the final period.

''I told them this team was built on going inside-out and when we weren't scoring we were settling for jump shots and not penetrating,'' Toler said. ''I told them to move the ball around, reverse the ball and throw it inside. ''

When Seattle made a run early in the fourth quarter, Parker responded with back-to-back assists to Kristi Toliver and Ogwumike.

''That's what people forget,'' Toler said about Parker. ''They always look at Candace to score. Even when Candace wasn't scoring, she was making the great play. She made a skip pass to Toliver, who was wide open and scored a three.''

Despite the win, Parker didn't think the game went too smoothly.

''It was kind of an ugly game, but we'll take it,'' Parker said. ''I think we executed when we needed to and were able to go on a run in the third quarter.''

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Augustus scores 17 points, Lynx beat Stars 88-78

Augustus scores 17 points, Lynx beat Stars 88-78

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Seimone Augustus scored 17 points in her return from a knee injury and the Minnesota Lynx beat the San Antonio Stars 88-78 on Friday night for their sixth straight victory.

After missing eight games and the All-Star Game because of bursitis in her left knee, Augustus received a loud ovation as she was introduced in the starting lineup. The cheers were even louder in the fourth quarter when she fueled a 12-0 run that put the game out of reach.

''At first it was like, `Ugh, got to catch my breath,''' said Augustus, who also had six assists. ''Legs were kind of tired, but once the game got going I got into a rhythm. It felt great.''

The knee sure looked fine during the deciding run. With 6:33 left, Augustus brought the crowd to its feet on a behind-the-back, crossover step-back from 19 feet away. The shot fell, the Lynx went up by 12, and San Antonio called timeout.

''The stuff that Seimone does, she does in her sleep,'' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''The behind the back, the crossover, she's been doing it so long it's really not hard, it's like riding a bike you've just to get right back to it.''

Lindsay Whalen added 14 points to help Minnesota (19-6) beat San Antonio for the 10th straight time at Target Center. Maya Moore had 12 points three nights after scoring a career-high 48 against Atlanta. Rebekkah Brunson scored 10 in her second game back since missing 23 games after right knee surgery.

It was the first time Minnesota's roster was at full strength all season.

''I joke with her and Brunson, they've played so many games in their career so missing a couple of weeks is really nothing for them,'' Reeve said.

Danielle Robinson led the Stars (12-13) with 15 points, Shenise Johnson had 13 and Kayla McBride 12.

Minnesota led by 10 points in the third quarter before San Antonio used a 13-6 run to cut the Lynx's lead to 52-51 with 5:15 to play in the period. The Stars went 8 for 18 from 3-point range to Minnesota's 1-of-9 performance, but the Lynx shot 18 free throws to San Antonio's four.

''That's tough to make up,'' Stars coach Dan Hughes said. ''That's a tough scenario for us to make that differential up in that situation and we had to deal with some foul trouble that we don't normally do.''

Minnesota outscored the Stars in the paint 38-30 and had 17 second-chance points to San Antonio's nine, mostly thanks to tough inside play by Brunson and Janel McCarville, who finished with 11 points.

''It's good to be able to have the physical presence of all 12 members of our team,'' Moore said.

Now they just have to get used to each other again.

''It's just a matter of putting all those pieces together, and making sure that we are all continuing to focus on what we can bring to the game when it's our turn to go in,'' Moore said.

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Mystics survive bad 4th quarter to beat Shock

Mystics survive bad 4th quarter to beat Shock

WASHINGTON (AP) Ivory Latta scored 17 points and the Washington Mystics held off the Tulsa Shock 82-77 on Friday night despite making only field goal in the fourth quarter.

Monique Currie scored 16 points - all on free throws - for Washington (12-13). The Mystics have won three in a row and five of six.

''Survive and move on,'' coach Mike Thibault said. ''The good part is in 10 days, (looking at the) standings, nobody will remember how or why, just that we survived.''

Survive they did. The Mystics entered the fourth quarter leading by 15 points and proceeded to miss their first 12 field-goal attempts of the period.

Tulsa (8-17) closed to 70-69 with 2:20 remaining by outscoring Washington 17-2. Skylar Diggins scored 19 points for the Shock, who have lost 10 of their last 12 games.

The Mystics, who made 26 of 32 free throws overall, countered with four straight from the line. Kara Lawson's jumper, their first basket of the period, came with 45.9 seconds left and gave Washington a 76-71 lead.

''I don't know if I've ever been in a game where (we) won with one field goal in the fourth quarter,'' Thibault said. ''Interesting game. You guys ask the questions. I don't even know where to start.''

Tulsa coach Fred Williams' postgame take focused on ''missed opportunities'' in the final minutes. The Shock had 10 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, but converted them into only one second-chance point.

''We had four of five rebounds there at the end to maybe put us up one or so.'' Williams said after Tulsa's third straight loss by five points or less.

''There are no moral victories on this team, but we're not getting blown out,'' Diggins said. ''We just got to be professionals, try to get better and get ready for the next opponent.''

Washington's Monique Currie scored 16 points - all on free throws -- to set a WNBA record for most points without a field goal.

''Yes! I'm in the record book, somehow,'' Currie exclaimed.

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Prince helps Sky beat Dream 79-75

Prince helps Sky beat Dream 79-75

ATLANTA (AP) Ephiphanny Prince scored 21 points and the Chicago Sky held off the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Dream 79-75 on Friday night at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion.

Jessica Breland added 15 points, Allie Quigley had 13, and Sylvia Fowles finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Sky (10-14). Chicago led by 18 points in the second quarter and was up 43-29 at the half.

Sancho Lyttle and Tiffany Hayes each had 15 points for Atlanta (15-8). The Dream have lost three straight for the first time this season.

Atlanta had a 19-2 fourth-quarter run, capped by Angel McCoughtry's free throws with 4:57 left that tied it at 66. Prince made a 3-pointer 21 seconds later to give the Sky the lead.

Dream assistant coach Karleen Thompson continued to fill in for head coach Michael Cooper, who is on medical leave after undergoing tongue cancer surgery Thursday in Atlanta. A team representative said Cooper's procedure was successful and that he will return to the bench soon.

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Mercury rout Sparks for 14th straight victory

Mercury rout Sparks for 14th straight victory

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Phoenix Mercury's winning streak has evolved so that they don't need Diana Taurasi, Candice Dupree or Brittney Griner to lead the way.

DeWanna Bonner took her turn with a season-high 22 points to lead the Mercury to their 14th straight victory, 93-73 over the Los Angeles Sparks on Thursday night.

Taurasi and Griner each had 18 points and Dupree added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Mercury (20-3), four wins shy of the Sparks' WNBA record of 18 straight wins in 2001.

Bonner recorded a season high in the first half with 20 points and finished with 22 on 7-for-9 shooting. It was the first time this season Bonner led Phoenix in scoring.

''We had a talk recently and I wanted her to be more aggressive on the offensive end,'' Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. ''People talk about our big three, but we actually have a big five . it was good for her to get going. I just want her to be aggressive. She can put numbers on the board, so I just wanted her to get involved as much as she can.''

Bonner and Griner combined to shoot 15 for 18 from the field to help Phoenix shoot 54 percent overall and score 48 points in the paint. The Mercury will go for No. 15 on Saturday against the New York Liberty, but they maintain that it's not on their mind.

''I think we worked hard for it,'' Bonner said. ''Nothing came easy. But we don't look ahead. We don't look behind at what we did or what we're doing.''

Nneka Ogwumike scored 23 points and Jantel Lavender had 16 for the Sparks (10-14), who lost their fifth straight home game and are 0-2 under new coach Penny Toler. Candace Parker returned from a strained knee and had 14 points and nine rebounds.

It was a big challenge for the Sparks, who played on Wednesday and fell into a deficit early. The Mercury set season highs for points in a first half (61) and first quarter (36).

The Sparks are in the middle of five games in seven days, and Toler said they have to stay positive.

''The things we're doing are fixable,'' Toler said. ''Now I need everybody to continue believe in what we're doing. This is a tough one. These cats are hot. It's tough to play them even when you've got days between, let alone on a back-to-back. And they were coming in fresh. It was the first half that killed us.''

Phoenix led by double digits from 25-15. Taurasi made a 3-pointer early in third quarter to give Phoenix its biggest lead at 64-38 before the Sparks went on a 23-9 run finished by Candice Wiggins' 3-pointer to get to 73-61.

The Mercury's Shay Murphy scored on a drive with the shot clock winding down on the next possession and the Sparks never got closer.

Ogwumike scored 19 points in the second half but that was the main Sparks highlight on a night when owner Magic Johnson was in attendance. Toler, the longtime general manager, was hired on Sunday and said she is getting a lot of input from assistant coaches and players to ease the transition.

''I'm actually proud of them because this is a lot of distractions that we have right now and that's recognizing that even as GM,'' Toler said. ''We're trying to change some things and go forward, and it may take a minute. Obviously we want things to be instant, but it doesn't work like that.''

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Charles helps Liberty beat Storm in OT

Charles helps Liberty beat Storm in OT

SEATTLE (AP) Tina Charles broke a tie on a put-back with 23 seconds left in the New York Liberty's 84-80 overtime time victory over the Seattle Storm on Thursday night.

Cappie Pondexter scored 20 points, and Charles added 18 points and 14 rebounds to help New York (10-13) win its third straight game. The Liberty, fighting for a playoff spot, have won six of their last eight after a 4-11 start.

After Charles gave New York the lead, Pondexter added a basket just before the buzzer after Seattle missed two shots in the final 13 seconds.

Camille Little scored 22 points, and Crystal Langhorne added 17 for Seattle (9-17). They Storm have lost four in a row and five of their last six.

Seattle guard Temeka Johnson had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 assists and a career-high 10 rebounds. She started in place of Sue Bird, sidelined by a strained neck.

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Charles scores 31 to lift Liberty over Sparks

Charles scores 31 to lift Liberty over Sparks

LOS ANGELES (AP) Tina Charles had 31 points and 15 rebounds to lead the New York Liberty to a 66-64 win against the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday night, spoiling the coach debut of Penny Toler.

Cappie Pondexter scored 16 points as the Liberty (9-13) snapped an eight-game road losing streak.

The Sparks played without leading scorer Candace Parker, who sat out with a left knee strain and is considered day-to-day, a team spokeswoman said.

Charles scored on a jumper to give the Liberty a 66-62 lead and blocked Jantel Lavender on the Sparks' next possession. The Sparks pulled to 66-64 when Nneka Ogwumike scored on a baseline jumper. Plenette Pierson missed two free throws to give the Sparks a chance to win or tie, but Kristi Toliver missed a 3-point attempt and Lavender missed the putback.

Ogwumike led the Sparks (10-13) with 23 points and eight rebounds and Lavender had 16 points and eight rebounds. Toler was named interim coach in addition to her general manager duties Sunday after former coach Carol Ross was fired.

Pondexter made back-to-back long jumpers to give New York the lead for good at 64-62.

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Stars Guard Becky Hammon to Retire Following 2014 WNBA Season

Stars Guard Becky Hammon to Retire Following 2014 WNBA Season

SAN ANTONIO, July 23, 2014 - San Antonio Stars guard and 16-year WNBA veteran, Becky Hammon, will retire at the conclusion of the 2014 WNBA season, the team announced today. Hammon will end her career as the Stars all-time leader in assists, points per game and three-point field goals made.

A six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon was named one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time in July of 2011.

Hammon holds career averages of 13.1 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 28.0 minutes in 440 games. She was named to the All-WNBA First Team twice and the All-WNBA Second Team twice in her 16 seasons.

In eight seasons with the Stars, Hammon has appeared in 213 games, averaging 15.9 points, 5.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 31.8 minutes. Her best season came in 2009 when she averaged 19.5 points, 5.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.58 steals in 33.8 minutes. Among Stars all-time leaders, Hammon ranks second in minutes (6,766) and field goals made (1,109). She was the top vote getter for the Stars All-Decade Team in 2012.

In WNBA history, Hammon ranks seventh in total points (5,756), second in three-point field goals made (817), fourth in assists (1,663), sixth in games played (440), first in free-throw percentage (89.6, min. 300 attempts), 11th in field goals made (1,887), 11th in total minutes (12,323), and 11th in free throws made (1,165).

"Becky Hammon has made a lasting mark on the San Antonio Stars and the WNBA," Stars General Manager and Head Coach Dan Hughes said. "She has worked tirelessly to become the best she could be on and off the floor. She has inspired in a wonderful way. The beauty of her game has been an amazing thing to have had a front row seat for."

The Stars acquired Hammon on draft night in 2007 when the team traded the number four overall pick, Jessica Davenport, to the New York Liberty along with a 2008 first round draft pick in exchange for Hammon and a 2008 second round draft pick.

Hammon has made the playoffs twelve times in her career including in six straight seasons with the Stars from 2007 to 2012. She leads the Stars in playoff games started (24), minutes played (877), total points (507), three-point field goals made (70), assists (105) and points per game (21.1).

In 2008, Hammon led the Stars to the only WNBA Finals appearance in franchise history. San Antonio finished the regular season with a franchise-best 24-10 record, earning the best record in the Western Conference. The Stars posted playoff series victories over the Sacramento Monarchs and the Los Angeles Sparks before falling to the Detroit Shock in the 2008 WNBA Finals.

"Becky Hammon epitomizes what the WNBA is all about: she has truly shown the world what is possible," said WNBA President, Laurel J Richie. "Having gone undrafted in 1999, Becky was determined to make her dream of becoming a professional athlete come true. Hard work and talent got her noticed and earned her a roster spot, and she never looked back. In addition to all her accomplishments, Becky’s feisty leadership and no-look passes have made her a fan favorite. We thank Becky for all her contributions to the growth of this wonderful game and we wish her all the best on her future endeavors."

Hammon originally joined the league in 1999, signing with the New York Liberty after going unpicked in the 1999 WNBA Draft. In eight seasons with the Liberty, Hammon averaged 10.4 points and 2.5 assists per game in 227 games and helped guide New York to six WNBA Playoff appearances.

The 37-year-old spent four years at Colorado State from 1995 to 1999 where she was a three-time All-American and the 1999 Naismith Award winner. In her senior season, she led the Rams to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 1999 NCAA Women’s Tournament.

During the 2014 season, Hammon is averaging 8.1 points, 4.1 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 24.5 minutes in 22 games.

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Dominant 4th quarter leads Mystics past Sun 89-75

Dominant 4th quarter leads Mystics past Sun 89-75

WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Mystics may have needed a reminder on how to find their own arena. They didn't need to remember how to defeat coach Mike Thibault's former team.

All-Star Ivory Latta scored 23 points and Monique Currie had 17 as the Mystics beat the skidding Connecticut Sun 89-75 on Tuesday afternoon.

Former University of Connecticut stars Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley also scored in double figures for the Mystics (11-13), who last played a home game July 2. They then had five consecutive road games, winning three of the last four.

''Oh my God, I didn't know how to get back to the gym,'' a smiling Latta cracked shortly after Washington outscored Connecticut 30-16 in the fourth quarter.

The victory moved the Mystics into a tie with Indiana for second place in the Eastern Conference behind Atlanta.

Chiney Ogwumike had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Sun (10-15). Connecticut has lost nine of its last 11 games but remains in possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the East.

The decisive stretch came with Washington Wizards guard John Wall sitting courtside and before an announced crowd of 16,028 on ''Camp Day.'' Latta credited the energy needed for the final push to the loud atmosphere created by thousands of enthusiastic kids rooting for the home team.

The two-time All-Star and her teammates also recognize the matchup's symbolism. Thibault, the winningest coach in WNBA history, was fired after 10 seasons by Connecticut in 2012.

''(Coach) never emphasizes anything like that, but as players we know this is something we need to get (for him),'' Latta said.

Washington is 3-0 against Connecticut this year and has won six of seven since the start of the 2013 season, when Thibault joined the Mystics as coach and general manager.

''I won't lie. It's fun beating them,'' Thibault said. ''Right now, I don't think about them necessarily. It's just one more team in our way.''

Latta made 5 of 7 3-pointers, including one with 6:52 remaining during a 19-4 run that gave Washington the lead for good. Dolson scored nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter. Hartley added 11 points.

The Mystics shot 50 percent from the field. The Sun missed 10 of 15 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

Kelsey Bone and Alex Bentley each scored 15 points for the Sun.

''It was a typical kind of grind-it-out game,'' Sun coach Anne Donovan said. ''They take the lead; we take the lead. Back and forth. Then with six minutes left, they imposed their will, and we didn't respond.''

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Mercury win 13th straight, clinch playoff berth

Mercury win 13th straight, clinch playoff berth

SEATTLE (AP) Diana Taurasi isn't focused on winning streaks. She's just trying to get the Phoenix Mercury to keep improving.

Taurasi scored 22 and Candice Dupree added 19 to help the Phoenix Mercury win their 13th straight game and clinch a playoff berth with an 89-71 victory over the Seattle Storm on Tuesday night.

Brittney Griner added 17 points, seven rebounds and five blocks for Phoenix (19-3), the first team to win 13 straight since the Storm in 2010 and the third longest win streak in league history. The Mercury are five shy of tying the Los Angeles Sparks' record of 18 consecutive set in 2001.

''We really don't talk about it,'' Taurasi said about the long winning streak. ''We're so focused on every little moment, whatever team we're playing, shoot-around, practice, the next game. If it keeps going, great, if not, hopefully we'll start another one.''

Phoenix hopes to win its third WNBA title this year to go with championships in 2007 and 2009.

''Everyone wants to win a championship that's what's it about,'' first-year Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. ''But we have to keep our feet on the ground. Championships are not won in July they are won in September this year. It's a long way to go. We've got a tough scheduled to finish the season off.''

Phoenix spoiled what the Storm billed as Championship Night with a halftime ceremony featuring trophies displayed from Seattle's two WNBA titles in 2004 and 2010, the SuperSonics 1979 Larry O'Brien Trophy and the Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Lombardi Trophy. Earl Thomas carried the NFL trophy to midcourt while Slick Watts carried the NBA trophy.

The Mercury could have another trophy of their own this year.

''One small goal of our many goals that we have,'' Dupree said about clinching a playoff berth. ''Ultimately we want to have the best record in the league and the number one spot for the playoffs.''

Crystal Langhorne had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead Seattle (9-16), which dropped 2 1/2 games behind Los Angeles for the fourth andl final Western Conference playoff berth. The Storm have lost four of their last five and three in a row.

Seattle coach Brian Agler said the Mercury are tough to defend.

''I've been in this league a long time and they're one of the better offensive teams I've seen come through here,'' Agler said. ''I'm not talking about their numbers, how many points they score, I'm talking more or less on the pressure they put on you at a lot of different positions and how they space the floor. To beat a team like this you've got to really eliminate your mistakes.''

Seattle committed 22 turnovers to just 10 for the Mercury, so the mistakes were too many to overcome. Phoenix shot 53.8 percent (35 of 65) from the floor.

''We're a talented team and they're fun to coach because they love playing together,'' Brondello said. ''They're very unselfish. When we move the ball from one side to the other and inside and outside we're hard to guard.''

The Mercury won the first three meetings at home with the Storm by an average of 17.3 points. Phoenix is 9-2 on the road.

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Moore has 48 points in the Lynx's 112-108 2OT win

Moore has 48 points in the Lynx's 112-108 2OT win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Maya Moore put on one of the best scoring displays in the history of the WNBA and it was barely enough to lift Minnesota.

Moore scored 48 points, the second most ever in the league, to help the Lynx beat the Atlanta Dream 112-108 in double-overtime.

She hit 16 of 30 shots from the field, including 7 of 9 from beyond the arc. The 48 points are just short of the record 51 scored by Tulsa's Riquna Williams last season.

''We needed every one of them,'' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said of Moore's points. ''And she had their full attention. That's what's impressive. They're not trying to let her drop 48 points on their heads.''

Moore now has scored 30 or more points in 10 games this year, tying the league record with 10 games to play. She also displayed her versatility on Tuesday with 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot at the end of regulation to force overtime.

She attributed her big night to keeping the game plan simple.

''I knew the one way I could hurt my team was by thinking too much,'' Moore said. ''If it's my shot and I'm open, shoot the ball. If it's not, pass it to an open teammate. . I'm just thankful. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't.''

Lindsay Whalen scored 26 points and Rebekkah Brunson added 17 points and 12 rebounds in her first game of the season. The 2013 All-Star missed the first 23 games of the season after undergoing knee surgery.

Sancho Lyttle had 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Tiffany Hayes scored 22 and Angel McCoughtry added 21 for the Dream, who were playing without coach Michael Cooper. The team announced Monday that Cooper is taking a temporary leave of absence and will have surgery this week in Atlanta. The Dream say a full recovery is expected.

''As a group, to go through what they're going through and remain focused, and to come in here and play in this type of environment and play so well, I'm really proud of this team,'' Atlanta assistant coach Karleen Thompson said.

The Dream trailed by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter, but they closed regulation on an 18-4 run to force overtime. In the first extra session, Hayes and McCoughtry hit consecutive 3s to put Atlanta on top 95-89. But Moore answered with a 3 of her own and Whalen eventually tied it with a jumper.

In the second overtime, Moore drained two long jump shots as the Lynx pulled out to a five-point lead and Tan White made a pull-up jumper with 38.4 seconds left to ice Minnesota's fifth straight win.

Moore had 23 points in a fast-paced first half and finished regulation with 40. She's had to pick up some of the scoring burden in the absence of Seimone Augustus, who missed her eighth straight game with bursitis in her left knee.

''This team has a lot, and you have to pick and choose your poison with them,'' Thompson said. ''But Maya was just in the zone tonight. She's obviously a great player, and she's capable of doing that on any given night.''

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McBride and Stars edge Shock 95-93

McBride and Stars edge Shock 95-93

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kayla McBride scored 23 points and the San Antonio Stars overcame career-highs by Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins to beat the Tulsa Shock 95-93 on Tuesday night.

Danielle Robinson scored 21 points, including the game-winning basket for San Antonio (11-12). Danielle Adams had 15 points and Becky Hammon had 10 points as the Stars remained in third place in the West ahead of the Los Angeles Sparks (10-12).

Sims had 39 points and Diggins had 34 for Tulsa (8-15), which fell to 3-9 on the road. Sims scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a driving layup to tie the game at 91 with 1:19 remaining. Adams followed with a pair of free throws, but Sims had another driving layup to forge another tie.

Robinson responded with a driving layup to put the Stars ahead 95-93 with 3.9 seconds remaining. Following a Shock timeout, Sophia Malcolm-Young tipped away the inbounds pass to McBride to seal the victory, leading Tulsa coach Fred Williams to kick the scorer's table in frustration.

Diggins missed two open layups to start the game before making her third on a contested attempt that resulted in a three-point play. The Notre Dame product also made her team's next three shots in a personal 9-2 run that put Tulsa up 13-6 with 2:19 remaining.

Reserve post Kayla Alexander sparked San Antonio's own 9-2 run to open the second quarter, cutting Tulsa's lead to 24-21. After completing a three-point play, Alexander followed a miss by McBride to complete the run with 7:41 remaining in the half.

Alexander's pull-up jumper tied the game at 30 and Robinson's 19-footer gave San Antonio its first lead at 32-30. Robinson later crossed over Sims, freeing herself for an open jumper and a 34-30 lead.

San Antonio held Tulsa to 28 percent shooting in the second quarter.

An aggressive approach helped Tulsa get nine free throws free throws in the third quarter, making all but one. The Shock tied the game at 61 on Johnson's jumper, but the Stars closed with a 3-pointer by Adams and a driving layup by Robinson for a 66-61 lead.

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Fowles helps Sky edge Fever 60-57

Fowles helps Sky edge Fever 60-57

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Sylvia Fowles had 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots to help the Chicago Sky beat the Indiana Fever 60-57 on Tuesday night, snapping a six-game losing streak.

Epiphanny Prince added 13 points for the Sky, who had lost 13 of 16.

Prince hit a driving layup for a 57-55 Sky lead with 21.3 seconds left. Fowles fouled Erlana Larkins, who made one of two free throws with 16.1 seconds remaining. After the Sky's Jamierra Faulkner hit one of two free throws, Fowles tried to block a driving Tamika Catchings but was called for the foul with 4.1 seconds left.

Catchings made one of two free throws. On the other end, Allie Quigley hit both free throws for the final. The Sky shot 16 of 17 from the free-throw line while the Fever were 9 for 20.

Fowles scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to extend the Sky's lead to 49-41. But the Fever tied it at 51 after Karima Christmas' 3-pointer with 5:12 left and Catchings' two free throws at 3:54.

Catchings missed both free throws with 1:32 remaining, but hit a layup with 1:02 left. Fowles answered with a layup with 48.4 seconds left before Coleman made both free throws to tie it again with 38.5 seconds left.

The Sky remained without starters Courtney Vandersloot (knee) and Elena Delle Donne (Lyme disease). Delle Donne, who is averaging 21.2 points, hasn't played since June 25.

The teams were playing their second straight game against each other. The Fever beat the Sky 82-64 on Thursday in Indianapolis in its most lopsided win of the season.

The season series is tied at 2-2.

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Race to the MVP: Week 10

Race to the MVP: Week 10

Race to the MVP is WNBA.com’s weekly feature where we evaluate who’s getting closer to that coveted crown. Starting this week, post All-Star Break, the list has been narrowed to five spots to reflect the amount of play left in the season.

Maya Moore holds on to the top spot this week heading into the second leg of the season with only a month left to go.

#1 MAYA MOORE

Last week, Maya Moore only played one game before the break, but she made it count with her third 30+ point game in the past four games. While the Lynx were struggling a little on the road, they've regained their momentum winning the last four games in a row which places them two games behind Phoenix at 17-6. While Maya certainly isn't slowing down and, really, neither are the Lynx, the one thing that could threaten their chances at another title this season is the Phoenix Mercury. But do they feel threatened?

"We're definitely a team that respects Phoenix," Moore said during a break in the All-Star action. "We definitely struggled against them earlier by not having the defensive presence that we need to to stop a really good offensive team. We're gonna definitely see them again and being in the Western conference is gonna be a great contest especially when we get together. That's what the WNBA's all about."

#2 ANGEL McCOUGHTRY

LAST WEEK: #3

Although the Dream lost this week in an exciting tilt with the Liberty, Angel McCoughtry sitll had 20 points and nine assists and still led the Dream on a 5-0 run before that. The Dream are sitting comfortably atop the Eastern Conference.

The Dream's success is possibly due to a hunger for the championship that has eluded them in their last three finals appearances or just the drive of a natural born competitor.

"We definitely do want that Championship, but we also have to get better each day of the season and that's what we're working on," McCoughtry said. "I know we're number one in the East, but that's not really our focus. Our focus is getting better and getting to the Big Dance. That's all we talk about."

And getting better every day is what Angel seems to be doing, immensely benefiting the Atlanta Dream.

#3 DIANA TAURASI

LAST WEEK: #2

This week Diana Taurasi helped lead Phoenix to two solid wins over Washington and Connecticut with 32 points in two games. Those two wins were the latest in a 12-game Phoenix winning streak. According to Taurasi, Phoenix's season so far can be attributed to the incredible synergy of the team and the very "well-prepared" coach Sandy Brondello.

"As you get older you learn how to prepare better," Taurasi said. "You're more secure in your game, you know the things that need to be done to win a game. And that only comes with experience, with playing a lot, with being in this league a long time and I think all of those things have helped me and us feel pretty confident in what we have to do."

It shows.

#4 CANDACE PARKER

Candace Parker is still putting up strong numbers for the Lost Angeles Sparks, but unfortunately the numbers aren't translating to Ws. The Sparks are now 10-12 and in the bottom half of the Western pack despite another banner season from the reigning MVP. This week she had 34 and 18 points leading the Sparks to a win over Indiana, but a close loss to Washington.

Why aren't the numbers converting though? "Obviously there are a lot of close games that we've had and things like that," Parker ventured. "But at the same time, you know, we've got to fix it. We can't expect it to fix itself."

#5 BRITTNEY GRINER

Brittney Griner had 16 and 21 points this week to help defeat Connecticut and Washington as part of Phoenix's 12-game winning streak. (Not to mention, a particularly acrobatic All-Star weekend.) But what stands out the most about Brittney Griner is her immense improvement from her rookie season. She is now putting up consistent numbers, working very well with her Mercury teammates and moving better than you'd ever expect a 6-foot-8 inch center to move.

"It's really just confidence and getting stronger, honestly, from last season and I put on a little weight," Griner said of her improvement. "I got back from China and got in the weight room."

And it shows.

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Schimmel's 29 leads East over West 125-124 in OT

Schimmel's 29 leads East over West 125-124 in OT

PHOENIX (AP) Shoni Schimmel scored an All-Star game record 29 points and had eight assists as the East pulled out a 125-124 victory Saturday over the West in the first WNBA All-Star Game to go into overtime.

Tamika Catchings, an All-Star for a record-tying ninth time, made a layup with six seconds to go to give the East the lead and then knocked the ball away from Skylar Diggins on the defensive end to seal the victory.

Diggins finished with 27 points and seven assists, leading a furious West rally to force overtime. She lost the ball on the baseline in the final seconds.

Brittney Griner, of the host Phoenix Mercury, scored 17 points, including a first-half dunk, for the West.

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Meet the East All Stars

Meet the East All Stars

TAMIKA CATCHINGS - Indiana Fever - Frontcourt: Catchings hit a game-winning shot against Tulsa in just her second game back this season after missing the first 14 games of the year with a sore back.

ELENA DELLE DONNE - Chicago Sky - Frontcourt: Delle Donne set her career high in points (33) and rebounds (14) on June 6th against Los Angeles.

CAPPIE PONDEXTER: New York Liberty - Backcourt: Pondexter hit a game-winning jumper against Atlata in the Liberty's last game before the All-Star break.

ANGEL McCOUGHTRY - Atlanta Dream - Frontcourt: McCoughtry is the only player in the league to be in the top five for points (4th) and steals (1st).

SHONI SCHIMMEL - Atlanta Dream - Backcourt: Schimmel opened her rookie season and WNBA career with 21 assists in her first two games. matching the WNBA rookie record.

JESSICA BRELAND - Chicago Sky - Frontcourt: A cancer survivor, Breland has more than doubled her points per game and nearly doubled her rebounding average from last season.

TINA CHARLES - New York Liberty - Frontcourt: This season, Tina Charles donated half of her WNBA salary to Hopey's Heart Foundation.

ERIKA DE SOUZA - Atlanta Dream - Frontcourt: De Souza is currently the only player in the top three in blocks and rebounds.

KATIE DOUGLAS - Connecticut Sun - Backcourt: Douglas (at 35 years and two months old) is the oldest 2014 All-Star.

BRIANN JANUARY - Indiana Fever - Backcourt: January is averaging a career-high in points in her 6th WNBA season.

IVORY LATTA - Washington Mystics - Backcourt: Ivory Latta, making her second-straight All-Star appearance, is replacing an injured Elena Delle Donne.

CHINEY OGWUMIKE - Connecticut Sun - Frontcourt: Ogwumike currently leads rookies in points per game, rebounds per game, blocks per game, and double-doubles.

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Meet the West All Stars

Meet the West All Stars

SKYLAR DIGGINS - Tulsa Shock - Backcourt: Diggins has more than doubled her scoring average from last year.

BRITTNEY GRINER - Phoenix Mercury - Frontcourt: Griner is leading the league in blocks with 77 total. She has more individual blocks this season than the Lynx, Stars, Storm, Shock, Liberty, and Mystics have team blocks.

MAYA MOORE - Minnesota Lynx - Frontcourt: Maya is in striking distance of the WNBA record of 25.3 points per game set by Diana Taurasi in 2006.

CANDACE PARKER - Los Angeles Sparks - Frontcourt: Parker scored an All-Star record 23 points en route to winning All-Star Game MVP last year.

DIANA TAURASI - Phoenix Mercury - Backcourt - Taurasi became the second all-time leading scorer in the WNBA this season after surpassing Katie Smith on July 2.

SEIMONE AUGUSTUS - Minnesota Lynx - Backcourt: This is the fifth time Augustus has been selected to the WNBA All-Star team.

SUE BIRD - Seattle Storm - Backcourt: Sue Bird, making her eighth All-Star appearance, is replacing an injured Seimone Augustus.

CANDICE DUPREE - Phoenix Mercury - Frontcourt: This is Dupree's first All-Star Game since 2009.

GLORY JOHNSON - Tulsa Shock - Frontcourt: Johnson is currently leading the league in double-doubles.

NNEKA OGWUMIKE - Los Angeles Sparks - Frontcourt : Nneka is one of nine former No. 1 overall picks selected to play in the 2014 Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game.

DANIELLE ROBINSON: San Antonio Stars - Backcourt: Robinson was voted the fastest player with the ball by WNBA GMs in our 2014 GM Survey.

LINDSAY WHALEN - Minnesota Lynx - Backcourt: Whalen currently has the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league.

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Ruffin-Pratt scores career-high 18 in Mystics win

Ruffin-Pratt scores career-high 18 in Mystics win

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Washington Mystics had enough energy left at the end of a long road trip to head into the WNBA All-Star break on a high note.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored a career-high 18 points and Monique Currie added 16 as Washington beat the Los Angeles Sparks 79-75 on Thursday night.

Ivory Latta scored 15 points for Washington (10-13), which had lost four of six. The Mystics moved into third place in the Eastern Conference just before All-Star weekend.

''It helps you relax more over the break, but also gives us some momentum going into the second half of the season,'' Currie said. ''This is the end of a 10-day road trip, so it shows a lot for us to stay together and play hard and grind this win out.''

Currie helped Washington finish the trip 3-2 by clogging the paint for Sparks forward Candace Parker, who missed nine of her first 11 shots attempts and went 5-for-16 overall. The Mystics made 10 of 13 field goals and outscored the Sparks 27-16 in the third quarter.

Kia Vaughn had 14 points and nine rebounds and netted the go-ahead basket inside to make it 74-72. Latta sank two free throws with 18 seconds left, and the Sparks' Kristi Toliver missed an ensuing 3-point attempt.

''They're definitely a great team. What we can take from this is the way we played against them is how we have to play in our own conference,'' Latta said. ''We can't let up. The way we guard (Parker) is how we've got to guard the Cappie Pondexters, the Tina Charles, Angel McCoughty.''

Jantel Lavender scored a season-high 23 points to lead the Sparks (10-12), who had their season-best, three-game winning streak end. Parker scored 18 points, with seven rebounds and six assists, and Toliver had 13 points.

Parker, coming off a season-high 34-point game, scored eight points in the fourth quarter and pulled the Sparks into a 72-72 tie with two free throws. But Toliver and Parker turned it over on the Sparks' next two possessions, and Emma Meesseman rebounded Latta's miss for Washington.

The Sparks had 19 turnovers and were outrebounded 10-5 on the offensive boards. It was their sixth game in 11 days, and Parker said the break might be beneficial.

''I think it's good for everybody to regroup and get time away, and then you come back with a fresher outlook,'' Parker said.

The Sparks, 3-7 at home, haven't won there since June 24.

''The past two years, it's been a great haven for us and a great advantage,'' Sparks coach Carol Ross said. ''But every team is different, and for whatever reason, this team is not focused. We've got to give our fans something to get behind us about, and we just haven't done it. But fortunately, the best part of the season is in front of us, and we have to recapture that magic here at Staples Center.''

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Mercury rout Sun, extend win streak to 12

Mercury rout Sun, extend win streak to 12

PHOENIX (AP) Penny Taylor had a season-high 23 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals and the Phoenix Mercury extended their franchise-best winning streak to 12 games with a 101-85 rout of the Connecticut Sun on Thursday.

All-Star Brittney Griner added 21 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots, giving her 80 at the All-Star break for Phoenix (18-3).

Katie Douglas hit a season-high five 3-pointers and had 23 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Sun (10-14), who have lost eight of their past 10.

Phoenix - which hosts the WNBA All-Star game on Saturday - is one win or a Seattle loss, away from clinching a playoff spot, with a month left in the season.

Alex Bentley added 20 points for Connecticut, which was the last team to beat the Mercury, 96-95, on June 12.

All-Star Diana Taurasi had 14 points and six assists for Phoenix.

After trailing by as much as 14 in the first half, Connecticut used some hustle - Chiney Ogwumike's put-back after being blocked by Griner, Douglas' steal of an inbounds pass before Phoenix ran off nine straight points and led 76-61 going into the final quarter.

Ogwumike had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Connecticut, her 10th double-double of the season.

Candice Dupree, an All-Star reserve, had 14 points and seven rebounds for Phoenix.

Taylor had 19 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals in the first half as Phoenix opened up a 51-39 lead. Phoenix led by as much as 21 in the fourth quarter.

Taylor scored 12 points during a 3 1/2-minute stretch of the second quarter, then hit a 3-pointer from the baseline in the final minute of the period to put the Mercury up 50-36. Griner added nine points despite picking up her third foul with 1:53 left in the half. She had 17 points in the period.

The Sun hit 10 of 17 from the field in the second quarter to stay close after trailing 24-14 following the first period.

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Catchings scores 25, Fever top slumping Sky 82-64

Catchings scores 25, Fever top slumping Sky 82-64

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The message on the board in the Indiana locker room was ''Finish Strong,'' something the Fever have struggled to do.

But in a matchup with the slumping Chicago Sky, the Fever found their game and surged to a win.

Tamika Catchings scored 25 points, and Briann January added 14 as the Fever sent the Sky to their sixth straight loss, 82-64 on Thursday night.

Indiana outscored Chicago 29-16 in the fourth quarter.

''We have been talking about it,'' Catchings said. ''We were determined to not to lose.''

Catchings scored 14 points in the fourth quarter for the Fever (11-12).

Indiana built a 53-36 lead late in the third quarter after first half runs of 17-2 and 9-2. But, Chicago (8-14) stormed back with an 11-0 spurt to close the period and get within 53-48.

''I made some subs, and my bench came in with energy, a little bit of enthusiasm,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said.

Indiana answered with an 11-0 run to open the final period, stretching its lead to 80-56 with 1:37 to play when January rolled in a fast-break layup.

January returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game. Her bucket gave the Fever a 24-point lead, their biggest of the season.

''Our bench came in and gave us some great minutes,'' January said. ''It gave (the starters) time to catch our wind and rest up.''

Allie Quigley had 17 points to lead Chicago, which has dropped 13 of 16. Sylvia Fowels had 15 points - all in the first half - and 11 rebounds.

''Sylvia dominated the first half,'' Catchings said. ''In the second half we all came together and was collectively going to help (Erlana Larkins) out and not put her one-on-one with her.''

The Sky were again without starters Courtney Vandersloot and Elena Delle Donne and fell to 1-6 without them.

The Fever trailed by four with 21.5 seconds left in the first period, but Krystal Thomas hit a jumper, and Layshia Clarendon made a buzzer-beating reverse layup to tie it 21-21.

Clarendon, who finished with four points, then rolled in another layup nearly two minutes into the second quarter to give the Fever a lead they didn't relinquish.

''I thought as a staff we did a better job keeping our starters under 30 (minutes),'' Fever coach Lin Dunn said. ''That was our goal. I thought that we were less fatigued at the end of the game.''

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Shock beat Stars 95-90 behind 22 points from Paris

Shock beat Stars 95-90 behind 22 points from Paris

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Courtney Paris scored a career-high 22 points and the Tulsa Shock made three late free throws to beat the San Antonio Stars 95-90 Thursday.

Jennifer Lacy sank a pair of free throws with 33.7 seconds remaining and Roneeka Hodges added another with 13 seconds left to seal the win.

Glory Johnson added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to help the Shock (8-15) snap a five-game losing streak. Skylar Diggins had 19 points and Odyssey Sims scored 15. Lacy finished with 12.

Danielle Adams scored 17 points for San Antonio (11-12) and Sophia Young-Malcol had 16. Danielle Robinson and Kayla McBride scored 15 apiece.

Paris performed well before her former college coach at Oklahoma Sherri Coale, who traveled the turnpike from Norman to Tulsa.

''I saw them on the baseline and I knew I had to finish,'' said Paris, who shot 9 for 9 from the field with two blocks. ''It's always great to have the support of people around you. I had a great experience at the University of Oklahoma. So whenever those guys come out you have an incentive to play a little harder, a little better.''

Asked if having her former coach and assistants courtside made her nervous, Paris joked, ''No, because I know tomorrow she won't yell at me. Seriously, she congratulated the team on the win. It was nice to have her here.''

Tulsa trailed 45-38 at halftime but used a 26-8 run to take control of the game. The eight points by the Stars in the third period were the fewest by an opponent in one quarter at the BOK Center this season.

''We knew we had an advantage in the low post,'' Johnson said. ''Courtney does a great job and I try to feed her the ball in the high-low. She's powerful down there. We talk a lot about teams coming in and (averaging) 50 percent on us. It was a focus in the third quarter.''

The Stars made 11 3-pointers, including four in the final period. Adams and McBride did most of the damage, hitting a combined seven from beyond the arc.

But Lacy and Hodges made free throws in the final minute to secure the victory.

''I didn't care if we had a game the day before, we needed to get out there and play hard,'' said Tulsa coach Fred Williams. ''Our rotation was good. They shot some 3's and we were able to get some run-outs. We know we have to tighten up our defense in the second half of the season.''

Tulsa shot 50 percent for the game and outrebounded the Stars 32-25.

''The team really fed Glory and Paris and cleared out giving them room to operate,'' Williams said.

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Bird, Latta Named All-Star Replacements

Bird, Latta Named All-Star Replacements

NEW YORK, July 16, 2014 -- Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm and Ivory Latta of the Washington Mystics have been named by WNBA President Laurel J. Richie as replacement players for Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014, the league announced today.

Bird will join the Western Conference roster, filling the spot of Minnesota Lynx guard Seimone Augustus, who has missed the last six games due to bursitis in her left knee. Latta joins the Eastern Conference roster in place of frontcourt star Elena Delle Donne, who has been sidelined for 12 of the Chicago Sky’s last 13 games due to the effects of Lyme disease. Delle Donne had been voted into the game as a starter by fans, while Augustus was selected as a reserve by Western Conference head coaches.

For the 33-year-old Bird, this marks her eighth All-Star appearance, having previously been voted as a starter seven times. The two-time WNBA champion most recently participated in the 2011 All-Star event held in San Antonio, when the league officially unveiled and honored its Top 15 Players of All Time, of which Bird was a member. Now in her 12th WNBA campaign, the former University of Connecticut standout ranks second in WNBA history in total assists (2,035) and assists per game (5.4).

Latta, who participated in her first Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star event last year as a reserve, currently leads the Mystics in scoring (11.0 ppg). The former University of North Carolina star is also tied for second in the league in three-point field goals made this season (42).

Eastern Conference Head Coach Michael Cooper will select a player to start in place of Delle Donne.

Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014 will take place at US Airways Center in Phoenix on Saturday, July 19, and will be nationally televised on ESPN, with tip-off at 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. PT).

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Moore scores 32 in Lynx's 93-82 win over Shock

Moore scores 32 in Lynx's 93-82 win over Shock

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After a rocky midseason stretch, Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve believes the defending-champion Lynx have just started to play their best basketball.

Maya Moore scored 32 points and the Lynx handed the Tulsa Shock their fifth straight loss with a 93-82 win on Wednesday afternoon.

''A strong, strong testament to how good Lindsay (Whalen) and Maya are to be sitting here at 17-6,'' Reeve said. ''With all we've been through, it's a testament to the leadership of Lindsay and Maya.''

After a .500 record across a 12-game stretch in late June and early July, the Lynx have now won four straight heading into the All-Star break this weekend - but the Shock (7-15) didn't make it easy.

The Lynx jumped out to double-digit leads in the first, second and third quarters, but saw them each erased by the Shock's efficient offense. Led by second-year player Skylar Diggins' 19 points, the Shock were plagued by 16 turnovers, which led to fast-break opportunities and 26 points for Minnesota.

Moore, the WNBA's leading scorer, continued her MVP-like season as she was one of six Lynx players to score in double figures. With her team's lead dwindling to as little as three points, Moore scored 12 of her points in the fourth quarter.

The Lynx never trailed.

''Maya's the Michael Jordan of this league,'' Shock coach Fred Williams said. ''When you have guards and players like her and Whalen, they make a lot of great plays together. But we learned a lot from this game.''

Whalen, who was announced as an All-Star reserve on Tuesday, commanded a Minnesota offense that shot 49 percent from the field and produced 21 assists - on par with their league-leading 20 assists per game. She'll be joined by teammates Moore), Seimone Augustus and coach Reeve at the All-Star game on Saturday.

''When we can get the rebound secured, we can push,'' Moore said. ''We have great athletes on this team. Lindsay Whalen, she's hockey like, the way she runs and feels the floor.''

Even though the Shock got efficient offense out of their starters - Diggins, Glory Johnson, Odyssey Sims and Courtney Paris combined to shoot 44 percent - they failed to capitalize when the score drew close.

Tulsa pulled within 77-74 with four minutes left in the game before a 15-6 run by the Lynx put the game away. Lynx guard Monica Wright had three of her career-high five steals in the final four minutes.

''We had that stretch where we were a .500 ball club for 12 games,'' Reeve said. ''We're not accustom to that. Twelve games is a long time for us to be mediocre. I think we're on the other side of that, and our trajectory is upward. We haven't peaked.''

Minnesota overcame the absence of Augustus for the seventh straight game as she sat out with bursitis in her left knee. Rebekkah Brunson also continued to sit and rehab her right knee after May surgery has kept her out all season.

The Lynx plan on both Brunson and Augustus returning to the lineup at some point after the All-Star break.

''We know what we need to do for those next 11 games,'' Reeve said. ''Without the shortcomings, we may not have known that.''

The Lynx hosted thousands of children for their annual Camp Day at the Target Center. Minnesota announced 16,413 in attendance, setting a regular-season franchise record.

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Results for August 2014

Results for September 2014

USA Dominates Angola to Finish Pool Play Undefeated

USA Dominates Angola to Finish Pool Play Undefeated

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Nneka Ogwumike scored 18 points to lead the U.S. women's national team to a record 119-44 rout of Angola on Tuesday night and close out preliminary play at the women's world championship.

The U.S. (3-0) will next play Friday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Canada and the Czech Republic.

The Americans took it right to Angola scoring the game's first 12 points. By the time Angola (0-3) had its second basket with 3:36 left in the quarter the lead had ballooned to 24-6 and the rout was on.

The U.S. led 33-11 after one quarter and Maya Moore's three-point play just before the half made it 61-25 as the Americans put on an offensive clinic, shooting 70 percent at the break.

The lead kept growing in the second half and the U.S. broke the team record for margin of victory, surpassing the 70-point win over Senegal in 1990.

Point guard Sue Bird set her own mark, playing in a U.S. record 28th world championship game, breaking a tie with Tamika Catchings, Katie Smith and Delisha Milton-Jones. Bird is playing in a team-record fourth worlds.

African teams are still looking for their first win in a preliminary round game of the world championship. All their wins have come in the classification rounds without a chance for a medal at stake.

These two teams have only met one other time and that was in the 2012 London Olympics, a 90-38 U.S. win.

In other action Tuesday in Group D, Serbia edged China 65-63; Australia routed Belarus 87-45 to win Group C while Cuba beat Korea 73-57 to advance to the qualifying round. Spain won Group A topping the Czech Republic 67-43 and Brazil advanced to the next round beating Japan 79-56. Turkey, which already clinched Group B, beat Mozambique 64-54 and France edged Canada 63-59.

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USA Holds Off Serbia, 94-74

USA Holds Off Serbia, 94-74

ISTANBUL (AP) -- With Serbia hanging around midway through the fourth quarter, Diana Taurasi and the U.S. women's basketball team stepped up their play to finally pull away.

Taurasi scored 13 of her 20 points in the final period and the Americans beat Serbia 94-74 on Sunday in the world championship to clinch the top seed in Group D.

"It was a tough game," Taurasi said. "Every possession was a battle. They made us work on defense. There are some things we probably got to clean up. These games are good for us. This team hasn't been together very long. In the two weeks that we've been together, we've been battle-tested a couple of times, which in the long run will only help us."

Unlike previous world championship tournaments where the U.S. would have six games before the elimination rounds, the new format gives the Americans just one more game -- against Angola on Tuesday -- to get ready for the quarterfinals.

"We just got Brittney Griner two days ago. We just got Candice (Dupree) and Dee (Taurasi) a week ago. We used to use those six games to (get better)," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. "So, right now we're just trying to get ready for the weekend, for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, I'm not surprised by the games that they're close, close, close and then we take off. I don't expect us to be up 25 points at halftime. It's just not normal."

The U.S. trailed by four points after the first quarter and was down six before Maya Moore got the Americans going. She hit three straight 3-pointers, the last starting a 9-0 run that made it 39-31. The U.S. led 49-42 at the half.

While the U.S. used a huge third quarter to put away China in its opener, Serbia hung around, only trailing 77-70 with 6 minutes left. Then Taurasi and the U.S. (2-0) finally took over, scoring 15 of the next 19 points to put the game away.

Taurasi had 10 points during the spurt. Her 3-pointer with 3 minutes left made it 92-74. She hit five 3-pointers in the game as the U.S. shot 56 percent (9 for 16) from behind the arc.

"Our leaders stepped up, and whether it was getting a key bucket, getting a defensive stop that we needed to and everybody continuing to get on the same page," Moore said. "We haven't been together as long as some of these other teams, so we are just continuing to work out the kinks, believing in each other, staying positive and bringing a lot of energy if it was your turn to come in."

Moore finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the U.S.

Ana Dabovic scored 24 points to lead Serbia (1-1), which will close out its pool play against China on Tuesday. China team beat Angola 65-39 in the other Group D game.

Australia remained unbeaten, routing South Korea 87-54, and Belarus edged Cuba 70-69 in Group C. The Czech Republic topped Japan, and Spain beat Brazil in Group A. France routed Mozambique, and Turkey beat Canada in Group B.

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USA Routs China in FIBA Opener

USA Routs China in FIBA Opener

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Brittney Griner made an immediate impact in her first women's world championship game.

The 6-foot-8 star scored 15 points, including what is believed to be the first dunk ever at the worlds, to lead the United States to an 87-56 victory over China on Saturday in the Group D opener for both teams.

Griner, who was wearing goggles to protect her eye that was injured in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, joined the team in Istanbul a few days before the game. She fit right in.

"It felt good. It was an easy transition. Coach made it easy for me, worked with me in practice," Griner said. "It's like having four other coaches out there on the court. Everyone is out there helping me out and making sure that it's a smooth first game and experience for me. So, it's been really easy for me, honestly, for this first game on the world stage."

Griner got the U.S. going with her one-handed dunk early in the first quarter. l China hung tough through the first half and only trailed 39-32 at the break.

Then the Americans took over, scoring the first nine points of the third quarter to blow the game open. By the end of the period the U.S. led 60-40. The Americans never looked back after that.

"It's the kind of game that you would hope to have as the first game of the tournament, where you have to play really well against China defensively because they do a lot of good stuff on the offensive end," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. "And we didn't make any shots in the first half at all."

"When we went in at halftime we talked about it, and then stuff started going in. So, it was good that we started the game in the first half under a little bit of duress and we finished the game on a high, so that's great going into tomorrow against another really good team in Serbia."

Xiaojia Chen and Mengran Sun each scored 10 points to lead China, which will play Angola on Sunday.

Tina Charles added 15 rebounds for the Americans, who set a team record with 63 rebounds. The U.S. broke its mark of 60 set against Lithuania in 1998. The 89 shots also were a team record, surpassing the mark of 88 against Brazil in 1994.

The U.S. will play Serbia on Sunday.

Serbia routed Angola 102-42 in its opener. In other opening games Saturday; Australia defeated Cuba 90-57, and Belarus topped South Korea 70-64 in Group C. Spain topped Japan 74-50, and the Czech Republic defeated Brazil 68-55 in Group A; and Canada beat Mozambique 69-54, and host Turkey edged past France 50-48 in Group B.

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35 WNBA Players to Compete in 2014 FIBA World Championship

35 WNBA Players to Compete in 2014 FIBA World Championship

The WNBA will have a significant presence at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey, tipping off Saturday, Sept. 27. Thirty-five current and former WNBA players will be featured on rosters of 11 of the 16 participating countries, including Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, and the United States.

In all, 21 current WNBA players will be in action, including 11 of the 12 members comprising the USA World Championship Team. The USA squad is led by the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird, the first four-time USA World Championship Team member, and the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, the reigning MVP of the 2014 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile and a three-time member of the USA’s World Championship squad. Both veterans were members of the USA’s gold-medal-winning teams at the 2002 and 2010 FIBA World Championships.

Nine other current WNBA stars will be representing the United States, including 2010 USA World Championship Team gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Candice Dupree (Phoenix), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota), along with 2006 bronze medalist Seimone Augustus (Minnesota), and a trio of first-time participants -- Brittney Griner (Phoenix), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), and Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock).

In addition to those playing for the U.S., there are 10 current WNBA players representing Australia, Brazil, France, Serbia, and Spain. Australia’s roster includes Erin Phillips and Penny Taylor of the 2014 WNBA champion Mercury, while Atlanta’s Nadia Colhado and Erika de Souza, and Minnesota’s Damiris Dantas will take to the court for Brazil. France will be represented by Atlanta’s Celine Dumerc and Los Angeles’ Sandrine Gruda, the Washington Mystics’ Jelena Milovanovic will suit up for Serbia, and New York’s Anna Cruz and Atlanta’s Sancho Lyttle will play for their home country of Spain.

Current WNBA rosters featuring multiple World Championship participants include Atlanta (5 -- Colhado, de Souza, Dumerc, Lyttle, and McCoughtry), Phoenix (5 -- Dupree, Griner, Phillips, Taurasi, and Taylor), Minnesota (4 -- Augustus, Dantas, Moore, and Whalen), New York (2 -- Charles and Cruz), and Los Angeles (2 -- Gruda and Ogwumike).

Coaches at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women also carry WNBA pedigrees. Among those serving as assistants to Head Coach Geno Auriemma on the U.S. squad are Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve, University of South Carolina Head Coach and WNBA All-Decade Team member Dawn Staley, and former Houston Comets and Cleveland Rockers star Jennifer Rizzotti.

NBA TV will televise up to five USA Basketball World Championship Team matchups during the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, beginning with a Group Phase matchup between the USA and China on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 2:30 p.m. ET. In addition, all the games from Turkey will be carried by ESPN3/WatchESPN. The gold medal game, regardless of who is playing, will be televised by ESPN2.

The USA finished with a perfect 9-0 record and took home the gold in the last FIBA World Championship for Women held in the Czech Republic in 2010, and posted an 8-0 mark en route to a fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Games.

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Team USA's Schedule in Turkey

Team USA's Schedule in Turkey

The 2014 FIBA World Championship is upon us as Team USA tips off its slate of games in Turkey on Saturday. Here's the team's preliminary schedule.

Sept. 27: China vs. USA

3:30 p.m. ET

Sept. 28: USA vs. Serbia

3:30 p.m. ET

Sept. 30: USA vs. Angola

3:30 p.m. ET

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AP: Sue Bird 1st US Player on Four World Championship Rosters

AP: Sue Bird 1st US Player on Four World Championship Rosters

Sue Bird is in a class by herself.

She became the first American player to make four world championship teams when USA Basketball announced the roster on Tuesday. Bird won gold medals in 2002 and 2010 and a bronze medal in 2006.

"It just means I've been playing a lot of years," Bird said last week before the team left for its overseas exhibitions. "We have a lot of other veterans in this group and I'm sure we'll have a good mix of experience and youth."

U.S. coach Geno Auriemma is impressed by Bird's longevity after playing for him at Connecticut.

"I think it's a testament to Sue," he said. "That's a period of 12 years. She played right after graduating college. It is amazing that her level of play has been that consistent for that many years at a position that is not easy to play. That's kind of who she is. She is very steady, very even keeled, unbelievably talented and wins. The players trust her, and they have confidence in her."

Joining her on the final roster were veterans Diana Taurasi, Candice Dupree, Tina Charles, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus. All seven of them have world championship experience, with Augustus playing on the 2006 team and the other six on the 2010 team that won a gold medal in the Czech Republic.

Brittney Griner, Nneka Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims and Breanna Stewart will make their first appearance at the world championship, which begins Saturday in Istanbul.

"I think from what I can see, we've got a little bit of everything," Auriemma said. "We still have, obviously, some things that we have to work on. Brittney is going to get here, and this will be her first time through this. Odyssey's first time. Breanna's first time. Nneka's first time. That's a lot of new faces."

Griner, who missed all of the U.S. team's training camp while she was recovering from a retinal injury suffered in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, will join the squad in Istanbul on Wednesday. She got clearance from her doctor this week to play.

Stewart, a junior at UConn, is the third straight college player to make the U.S. roster at worlds. Moore played in 2010 and Candace Parker in 2006.

The Americans beat the Czech Republic 76-41 Tuesday in Prague, finishing 4-1 in exhibition games leading up to the worlds.

The U.S. will open against China on Saturday before facing Serbia on Sunday. The Americans close out pool play against Angola on Sept. 30. The final is Oct. 5.

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Next Stop for Team USA: Prague

Next Stop for Team USA: Prague

Team USA has one more stop on their exhibition schedule versus the Czech Republic in Prague tomorrow afternoon. Having already trimmed their roster to 13 after the addition of Diana Taurasi, Candice Dupree, and Brittney Griner, the team will make one more cut when Griner joins the team on Tuesday. After the final exhibition game, the team will travel to Turkey for the World Championships.

Recently, Team USA has showed their stuff against Canada, Australia and China, winning each handily. Against France on Sunday, however, Sparks forward Sandrine Gruda led a second half rally as the French upset the US by four points.

Here's the schedule for the upcoming USA Basketball exhibition games and World Championships:

Remaining 2014 USA Basketball Women's National Team Team Training Camp Schedule

Sept. 23

USA vs. Czech Republic

Tipsport Arena

Prague, Czech Republic

1 p.m. ET

2014 FIBA World Championship Schedule

Sept. 27

China vs. USA

Abdi Ipekci Arena

Istanbul, Turkey

3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

Sept. 28

USA vs. Serbia

Abdi Ipekci Arena

Istanbul, Turkey

3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

Sept. 30

USA vs. Angola

Abdi Ipekci Arena

Istanbul, Turkey

3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

Oct. 1 - Quarterfinal Play-In Games

Oct. 3 - Quarterfinals

Oct. 4 - Semifinals

Oct. 5 - Finals

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France Shocks USA In Exhibition Win

France Shocks USA In Exhibition Win

PARIS (AP) -- Sandrine Gruda had 26 points and 15 rebounds to help France stun the U.S. women's national team 76-72 in an exhibition game on Sunday.

It's the first loss by the Americans in an international game since falling to a team from the Czech Republic in 2011 when the U.S. was on a European tour.

The Americans, who beat the French by 36 points in the gold medal game at the Olympics in 2012, had a 12-point halftime lead and were up 60-52 with 6:39 left in the game before the hosts rallied. France led 71-67 with 27 seconds left after Celine Dumerc, who plays for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA, hit a jumper. Maya Moore made a 3-pointer 7 seconds later to make it a one-point game.

After the teams exchanged free throws, Dumerc made the first of two from the foul line before corralling her own miss with nine seconds left to seal the win.

"We talked to the players about how difficult all this is going to be," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. "Sometimes maybe we think this is going to be easy, but it's not going to be easy. It's not easy to beat a really good team on their home floor if you don't shoot the ball well, if you don't make shots. The way we started in the first quarter, I thought we started the right way. Our defense was really good. Our offense was going. And then when we got into a little bit of a lull, France and Sandrine (Gruda) especially, they just made shots. They deserved to win tonight. No question about that."

Tina Charles scored 12 points to lead the U.S., which shot just 40 percent (27 for 67) from the field. Moore missed her first nine shots before hitting the 3 that brought the Americans within one. Diana Taurasi was 3 for 13 from the field. The U.S. was also outrebounded 44-38.

The U.S. is still trying to finalize its roster before the world championship. After the game the Americans cut Skylar Diggins, Kayla McBride and Stefanie Dolson, who didn't play in the loss. That leaves 13 players, and the U.S. needs to be at 12 by the tournament.

"This was a very difficult decision," said U.S. national team director Carol Callan. "Given the quality and depth of our USA national team pool, the final decisions will always be tough. But, our future is bright knowing that these players have a hunger and desire to continue to get better and be a part of our pool. We look forward to seeing them at future camps. We certainly appreciate all that they have given and will continue to give to USA Basketball."

The Americans are still awaiting word on whether 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner can join the roster pool. She was sidelined by a retinal injury in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals and is awaiting doctor's clearance. With returning Olympians Candace Parker and Sylvia Fowles out with injuries, the U.S. was lacking an inside presence against France.

The U.S. will head to the Czech Republic for one more exhibition game before opening up the world championship against China on Sept. 27.

"I think in my experience every loss has been a good thing," three-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird said. "It's kind of woken us up and showed us some things that we need to work on. Usually, it plays out to our favor. I can think of literally every time I've lost in this USA jersey, and it's helped us, so that's how we are looking at it. That's why you play these games leading up to a competition, to see what you need to work on. And we definitely found out some things."

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AP: Several Post Players Out With Injury

AP: Several Post Players Out With Injury

Candace Parker is out. So is Sylvia Fowles. Brittney Griner is questionable. And now Elena Delle Donne is a no-go.

With a series of injuries to several post players on the U.S. women's national basketball team, the heavily favored Americans have suddenly been cut down to size as they prepare for the world championship that begin Sept. 27 in Istanbul.

It's a new challenge for USA Basketball. Veteran post play has long been a strong suit, from Anne Donovan to Yolanda Griffith and Lisa Leslie.

''Candace and Sylvia have obviously played a lot of international basketball. They've won World Championships, they've won gold medals, so not having those two is obviously a huge concern,'' U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said.

The 6-foot-4 Parker, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, withdrew from the national pool to have minor surgery on her left knee. Fowles, a 6-6 center who also has won two Olympic golds, backed to take care of her ailing feet.

Even without those two stars, Auriemma's team seemed to be fine with a lot of stellar young talent.

That depth took a hit Thursday when it was announced that 6-5 Delle Donne won't be able to play because of a balky back that bothered her during the WNBA playoffs.

Auriemma's still waiting to hear whether Griner will be able to play. The 6-8 center still needs doctor's clearance for a retinal issue that forced her to miss Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. It won't be known for a day or two whether she'll be able to play in the world championship.

The Americans still have a lot of talent in the post, just not much experience.

Tina Charles and Candice Dupree are the only true post players left in the roster pool who have played in either a world championship or Olympics.

''Tina played really well at the world championship, she played really well at the Olympics. She obviously is capable,'' Auriemma said. ''What we have to do now is make sure we get consistent points and rebounds, a consistent effort from her. It's even more important because the people coming off the bench to help her out don't have that, so whereas in the past it's like, 'well, if I don't play well, so and so will pick me up.' I don't know that she's got that luxury right now.''

Auriemma will turn to a young group that includes Nneka Ogwumike, Breanna Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Jantel Lavender to help in the post. While Stewart is only a junior at UConn, she does have a lot of international experience. She's played in 47 games for the U.S., winning gold medals for various age groups.

''The bottom line is that we have a lot of young players and we have a lot of young post players and there's nothing we can do about that,'' Auriemma said. ''Our veterans that have been really good and have been so consistent through this run, I'm really going to lean on them and I know they'll come through.''

The Americans are the favorites, but they have stumbled before when faced with a similar challenge.

Leslie and Griffith both withdrew late from the 2006 worlds leaving the Americans short in the post and the U.S. lost in the semifinals to Russia before winning the bronze medal. The setback is the only blemish on the Americans' stellar record since winning gold at the 1996 Olympics.

The U.S. will play three games in France against the host nation, Australia and China over the next few days before heading to the Czech Republic for an exhibition game there. That should give Auriemma a better feel of his post players before they open up the worlds against China on Sept. 27.

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Team USA Beats Canada with Big Third Quarter

Team USA Beats Canada with Big Third Quarter

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Geno Auriemma knows his U.S. women's basketball team is a work in progress. They have only been together for a week and still are missing a few key players, including Diana Taurasi.

Only leading by four at halftime, the Americans scored the first 13 points of the third quarter to grab control in a 76-51 victory over Canada on Monday night in an exhibition game.

"I thought there were moments where we looked like we could be a really good team down the road," Auriemma said. "We'll find out more when we get to France and when we play three games in three days. The competition will be pretty good."

The U.S. will now head to France to play in a pre-worlds tournament against Australia, China and France. The 13 players who competed in Monday night's game will be joined by a few players who missed the training camp to play in the WNBA Finals.

Auriemma said that one player who won't be joining them in France is Sylvia Fowles, who needs time to rest her injuries. That opens another spot on the team for a player like Nneka Ogwumike, who scored 10 points in the balanced attack against Canada.

Leading 35-31 at the break, the U.S. came out strong in the third quarter behind Tina Charles. She was scoreless in the first half, but had seven points during the game-changing spurt. Maya Moore added a nifty reverse layup and the Americans were off and running.

By the time Katherine Plouffe, the former Marquette player, hit a layup 6:30 into the quarter to end the run, the U.S. led 48-31.

Odyssey Sims hit a 3-pointer just before the end of the period to give the Americans a 57-41 advantage. Canada could only get within 14 in the fourth quarter.

"We're still a work in progress but we're going in the right direction," said Moore, who had six steals. "We have all the parts and are learning to play together. It definitely helps having so many veterans."

Plouffe had 14 points for Canada.

"Canada is slowly building up as a basketball nation," said Kim Gaucher, who will be playing in her third world championship. "I think we showed tonight that for 20 minutes we competed with them really well. Once they ramped up their pressure we had a rough stretch for 20 minutes. We showed that we can be a force at worlds."

The U.S. will make a quick stop in the Czech Republic before heading to Istanbul to begin the world championship on Sept. 27.

The Canadians are headed to Spain to play an exhibition game against the host country and Cuba.

Canada is in Group B at the world championship with France, Turkey and Mozambique. Canada featured UConn freshman Kia Nurse. The young guard finished with six points. Before the game, she posed with current and former Huskies for a photo much to the delight of the roughly 7,500 fans in attendance.

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Taurasi Shoots Herself Into History

Taurasi Shoots Herself Into History

Phoenix, Ariz. - Everybody knew what was coming.

Diana Taurasi knew. The Chicago Sky knew. The popcorn vendor in the upper deck knew. And still, it couldn't be stopped.

With Game 3 of the WNBA Finals tied at 82 and the Mercury a win away from a title, Taurasi drove right and hit a clutch jumper over Chicago's Courtney Vandersloot with 14.3 seconds left in the game. She also got fouled and hit the subsequent free throw, thus giving the Mercury a lead they would not relinquish.

"Biggest of my career, hands down," Taurasi said of the shot. "You hit a lot shots in the regular season, playoffs, but in a close-out game in the WNBA Finals, biggest shot I ever hit."

The beauty of the shot might've been in its simplicity.

When asked if there was any doubt if she was the one taking the shot, Taurasi, who was named Finals MVP, did not hesitate.

"No," she declared.

Even the other side acknowledged the obvious.

"Everyone in the world knew who was taking that shot," Chicago's Elena Delle Donne said. "And I do feel like (Vandersloot) defended it great, but (Taurasi) just made a phenomenal shot. That’s what amazing players do."

For Taurasi, this is her third WNBA title, to go along with her three Olympic Gold Medals and three NCAA championships at UConn.

"Apples, oranges and pears, I guess," Taurasi said when asked to compare the titles. "College ones feel great because when you're in college you're really in a family atmosphere with people that are my friends for life. Olympics is for your country. You wear that flag and there's no other feeling like that. And then, the WNBA is the best competition in the world. So when you're champions here, you're champions.

You've earned it."

Throughout her illustrious 10-year career, Taurasi has certainly earned every inch of her success, and leading the Mercury to victory in Game 3 on Friday without star center Brittney Griner, who out sat after undergoing an eye procedure, is just another example. In the process, Taurasi reached a handful of milestones.

By scoring 24 points in Game 3, she's now scored more points in the WNBA Finals than any player in history (passing Deanna Nolan) Along with her teammate Penny Taylor, Taurasi is now one of only 11 players in WNBA history to win three WNBA titles. She is just the third player in WNBA history (Cynthia Cooper -- four times; Lisa Leslie -- two times) to have won two or more Finals MVP awards. She also accomplished that feat in 2009.

"She is the best winner we've had in the WNBA era," ESPN analyst and former WNBA star Rebecca Lobo said prior to Game 3. "Even though (Cynthia) Cooper and (Sheryl) Swoopes had four WNBA championships, Sheryl only had one in college and I think Cooper had at most two in college. Well, Diana had three in college, this could make three in the W, she has three Olympic Golds. She's the greatest winner in the last 20 years of women's basketball."

Taurasi's greatness is not lost on her appreciative teammates. "She’s the best player in the world and big plays just come easy to her," said Phoenix guard Erin Phillips, who won her second WNBA title in three years. "She just makes it look so easy. So I said to her after the game ‘thank you,’ you know, because really she’s just carried us and it’s a real privilege to be on her team and to win a championship with her."

Taurasi, however, makes it seem like the privilege is all hers. On several occasions she said she's never been on a team that has been both this talented and as unselfish as this squad.

The end result? Taurasi and the Mercury achieving what they were even afraid to talk about at the beginning of the season.

"Champions. We are the champions. That feels so good," Taurasi said with a smile. "I didn't want to say that word all year because you get lost in winning a championship and you forget to do the hard work.

"It feels great to have three. It really does."

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Mercury finish sweep of Sky for third WNBA title

Mercury finish sweep of Sky for third WNBA title

CHICAGO (AP) The Phoenix Mercury were without star center Brittney Griner. However, they still had Diana Taurasi.

Taurasi scored 14 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter and the Mercury beat the Chicago Sky 87-82 Friday night to complete a three-game sweep of the WNBA Finals for their third championship.

''We have the best player in the world, Diana Taurasi,'' Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. ''When you put the ball in her hands at crunch time, she makes it happen.''

Taurasi made big plays as the Sky were threatening to force a Game 4.

She hit a tiebreaking 16-foot jumper and was fouled with 14.3 seconds left and made the ensuing free throw to put Phoenix up 85-82.

Taurasi shot 4 for 9 on 3s and became the WNBA's all-time leading scorer in the finals.

She had some help.

After she reached the podium, she slid her MVP trophy over toward her teammate Candice Dupree, a former Sky player who also scored 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting.

''Candice has probably been overlooked her whole career on whatever team she has played on,'' Taurasi said. ''I've never played with someone that I'm so confident going into a game with. You always know she's going to be able to play.

''She led us in assists. She never passes, so you knew we were going to win today,'' Taurasi said with a smile.

DeWanna Bonner had 12 points and Penny Taylor added 11 for the Mercury, who also won titles in 2007 and 2009. Phoenix, which had a WNBA-record 29 wins during the regular season, shot 49.3 percent overall from the field and never led by more than five.

Elena Delle Donne, who battled a back injury during the series, scored 23 points, Sylvia Fowles had 20 points and Allie Quigley had 19 for the Sky.

Dupree and the rest of the Mercury had to step up in the absence of Griner, who sat out following surgery to correct a retinal issue after she was hit in the right eye in Game 2. She averaged 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 blocks in the first two games.

Ewelina Kobryn had eight points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in Griner's place.

''Sandy told us before the game started we all had to pick up the slack, play harder,'' Dupree said.

Courtney Vandersloot's jumper with 3:32 cut Phoenix's lead to 77-74.

Taurasi completed a three-point play a minute later for a four-point lead before Delle Donne cut it to two again. Quigley's jumper tied it with 33.1 seconds left before Taurasi took control.

After Taurasi's three-point play put Phoenix ahead, Delle Donne missed a 3-pointer with 10.9 seconds left, and the Sky fouled Taylor, who made both free throws with 9.3 seconds left for the final score.

Phoenix's sweep in the finals was the fourth in the last five years, and fifth since the championship round went to a best-of-five format in 2005.

Taurasi said she thought the Mercury would have the opportunity to win several titles after their last championship in 2009. They were able to enjoy the sweep after the long wait.

''We do finally get here and knowing we have to take full advantage of it, we have to enjoy it,'' she said. ''Today, with two minutes left, we enjoyed that. That pressure of not knowing we were going to win, we enjoyed that.''

The Mercury had averaged 57 percent shooting and 90 points in winning the opener 83-62 and Game 2 97-68 by a finals-record margin in Phoenix.

Chicago was the first team with a losing record during the regular season to reach the finals.

''The first two games, we weren't where we wanted to be,'' Fowles said. ''We tried to take into consideration we were home in front of our crowd and go out and play tough.''

The game was played at the UIC Pavilion because Allstate Arena was unavailable due to a Garth Brooks tour.

''It stings right now. It's sad we didn't have the showing we wanted,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. ''I want to credit a team that when they had a man down their All-Star players stepped up.

''There were some crucial times in there we had opportunities to separate. D would hit a big shot, and that's what big-time players do.''

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Brittney Griner Out For Game 3

Brittney Griner Out For Game 3

PHOENIX, Ariz -- The Mercury's Brittney Griner will not play in Game 3 due to an eye injury she incurred in Game 2 and received surgery for on Wednesday. Today, doctors decided Griner should not play as a precaution. Her status will be day-to-day.

"It's gonna be tough sitting on the bench not able to play, but I have all the faith in the world in my teammates and I'll just be sitting there rooting them on," Griner said in the locker room before the game.

"[My eye's] not that bad," she continued, "I had a little laser surgery on it, corrected it. Just taking it a day at a time. Doctors don't want me to play today so, you know, that's what they went to school for so I'm gonna listen to the doctors."

"This team is still good with or without me on the court. I have all the faith in the world that they will close this thing out."

"It'll be tough to watch. It's always tough to watch. You never just want to sit on the bench."

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Mercury, Sky React to Griner's Status for Game 3

Mercury, Sky React to Griner's Status for Game 3

The Mercury's worst nightmare was temporarily realized when midway through the second quarter of Game 2 their newly minted First Team All-WNBA center hit the floor clutching her face after a tangle with Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles.

Brittney Griner, who was poked in the eye during that sequence, went on to play out the game and score a team-high 19 points, leading the Mercury to a 29-point victory (the largest in WNBA Finals history). And, to add to it, she also suffered a chipped tooth later in the game.

It appears that first encoutner with Fowles, however, could have a lasting impression on this series. Griner actually didn't travel to Chicago with the rest of the team. She lagged behind for an "outpatient procedure to correct a retinal issue," according to an official statement from the Phoenix Mercury. She is expected to re-join the team on Friday morning and will be evaluated by doctors on game day. Whether or not she will play Friday night will be a game-time decision.

"Brittney’s tough, she obviously showed it by losing a tooth and an eye still finished the game," Diana Taurasi said of her after practice. "She'll be ready to go, hopefully."

While hopeful that BG will make it back for the big game, the Mercury also have to prepare for a game without their star center:

"It’s Game 3 of the Finals," Taurasi also said, "it doesn’t take much to get us going, but whether [Griner] plays or doesn’t play, it’s an opportunity for everyone to come, play hard, play together, and see what happens."

Griner's absence will also be cause for adjustment on Chicago's end, but Fowles knows that it still won't be easy:

"They are just that good of a team. When one goes down, another steps up. So we just have to ready for whatever they throw at us."

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Facing Elimination, Don't Count Out the Sky Just Yet

Facing Elimination, Don't Count Out the Sky Just Yet

CHICAGO, Ill. - It's win or go home for Chicago Sky, but if this postseason is any indication, they might have the Phoenix Mercury right where they want them.

The Sky have faced elimination three times in the 2014 Playoffs, and all three times they came away with victories. They stormed back for a historic comeback in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the top-seeded Atlanta Dream and defeated the Indiana Fever in Games 2 and 3, after falling down 1-0, in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"Nobody wants to go home," Chicago guard Allie Quigley said. "We don’t want to stop playing. We came this far and we just want this really badly, so I think that’s gonna show tomorrow."

Game 3, which will be played at UIC Pavilion and not the Sky's regular home arena, AllState Arena, is Friday night at 8PM ET on ESPN2.

After Games 1 and 2, where the Sky lost by 21 and 29 points, respectively, they know they are in a tough spot.

"Now we got our backs against the wall," Sky center Sylvia Fowles said. "We are going to have to punch our way out and keep on fighting. It's not over."

It should be noted that it wasn't until the end of the Sky's media availability on Thursday that they became aware of Brittney Griner's status, who is listed as a game-time decision for Game 3 after undegoing a outpatient procedure to correct a retinal issue.

Being without a key player or two has become commonplace for the Sky this year, even into the postseason. Even so, they have found ways to perserve through the adversity and also learn from the journey.

"We've faced elimination in round one and round two and somehow we found a way to win," Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot said. "We've been through a lot this season, we're going to figure it out. We have fighters on this team. We're not happy with just being in the Finals. We need to be better tomorrow and we're going to find a way to be better tomorrow."

Several members of the team acknowledged that they are not happy with their performances in the first two games in Phoenix, but also noted that it's nothing scheme-wise that needs to changed, they just need to execute better and "want it more" since they are the team facing elimination.

"For any competitor, you dont want to stop playing," Quigley said. "And when your faced with a game that says if you lose you're going home or you win you keep playing, it's going to bring something out of you."

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MVP and Scoring Champion Maya Moore Headlines 2014 All-WNBA First Team

MVP and Scoring Champion Maya Moore Headlines 2014 All-WNBA First Team

NEW YORK, Sep. 11, 2014 - Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore highlights the 2014 All-WNBA First Team, the WNBA announced today. Moore was a unanimous First Team selection by all 38 voters and finished as the leading vote-getter with 180 points.

Moore, the 2014 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung, set WNBA records with 12 games of 30-plus points and four consecutive games of 30 or more points. In addition, she posted a career-high 48 points versus the Atlanta Dream on July 29, marking the second-highest-scoring game in league history. This is the second straight season that Moore, the WNBA’s leading scorer at 23.9 ppg, has staked claim to First-Team honors.

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi received the second-most votes (171) and earned her record-breaking ninth First-Team selection. Her teammate, second-year center Brittney Griner (170), captured her first selection to the All-WNBA First Team. Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker (116) garnered First Team honors for the third consecutive season, while Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins (140) is a first-time honoree.

Taurasi’s nine First Team selections (2004, 2006-11, 2013-2014) move her ahead of Lisa Leslie for most in WNBA history. The 11-year pro helped Phoenix to a league-best 29-5 record and the most wins by a team in a single season all-time. She paced the Mercury in points (16.2 ppg) and assists (5.6 apg), while averaging 3.8 rpg.

Parker, the 2013 WNBA MVP, finished the season averaging 19.4 points to go along with 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.4 blocks, pacing the Sparks in points, blocks and steals. The 19.4 points is the second-best figure of her career.

Griner, the 2014 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung, paced the league in blocks with 3.79 bpg. With 129 blocks, Griner surpassed the previous WNBA single-season mark of 114, set by Margo Dydek in 1998. She also posted a WNBA single-game record with 11 blocked shots on June 29 at Tulsa, topping the previous mark of 10, set by Dydek and Leslie. Griner placed in the top 10 in points (15.6 ppg) and rebounds (8.0 rpg), while her .578 shooting percentage from the field ranked second in the WNBA.

Diggins, the 2014 WNBA Most Improved Player presented by Samsung, led the league with 35.1 mpg and ranked second in scoring (20.1 ppg). She started all 34 games for Tulsa and paced the team in scoring, minutes, assists (5.0 apg) and steals (1.5 spg).

Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen (116 points) headlines the 2014 All-WNBA Second Team. The Dream’s Angel McCoughtry (90) and the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike (45) were voted as the Second Team forwards. For the second straight season, Tina Charles (88) of the New York Liberty earned Second Team honors at center, while Danielle Robinson of the San Antonio Stars and Seimone Augustus of the Lynx each tallied 27 points to qualify for the Second Team at the guard position.

Voting for the All-WNBA First and Second Teams was conducted by a panel of 38 national and local sportswriters and broadcasters at the conclusion of the regular season. Players were selected by position and received five points for each First Team vote and three points for each Second Team designation.

In honor of being named to the All-WNBA First and Second Teams, each player will receive a Tiffany & Co. designed trophy. In addition, $10,000 will be awarded to each member of the First Team, while each member of the Second Team will receive $5,000.

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Diana Taurasi: What's in a Name?

Diana Taurasi: What's in a Name?

PHOENIX, Ariz -- What's in a name? In this case, maybe a whole lot.

According to Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt (often equated with Artemis in Greek mythology). She was fierce, quick, and independent. "Taurasi," meanwhile, is likely derived from the Latin "taurus" meaning "bull," which is altogether fitting for a guard like Diana Taurasi. She is both like a huntress and a charging bull -- intelligent and calculated when it comes to basketball knowledge, yet impulsive and mercurial on the court.

In Tuesday's intense matchup between the Chicago Sky and the Phoenix Mercury, we saw both sides of Diana Taurasi emerge.

It all started in the second quarter when Brittney Griner went down with a chipped tooth after an elbow to the mouth, only minutes after suffering a contusion above her right eye. It was then that Diana Taurasi lit up the court. She scored 18 points that night, 13 of which came in the second quarter. This might seem like nothing special for a player as prolific as Taurasi, but in the process she became the second all-time leading WNBA Finals scorer and tied Katie Smith for the most WNBA Finals three pointers with 36.

"You know, when you get the blood boiling, I think that’s when you find yourself at a level that goes above and beyond where you originally are," Taurasi said in the locker room after the game. "To see BG get hit like that, you know, everyone kinda wants to have her back. The only way to get going is by getting hit sometimes."

Showing that bull-like intensity to get the game going, Taurasi then dialed it back a little in the second half, returning to the intellectual Diana.

"I think at the beginning we were playing a little bit too fast," she said. "We were getting ahead of ourselves a little bit because we were just so anxious to get going and play that maybe we were out of sorts a little bit. And then we regrouped at the end of the first half. You know, we came out in the second half pretty determined to get back on track and we did that."

They did more than just get back on track. The Mercury won the game by 29 points, which is the biggest margin in a WNBA Finals game to date. But you can be sure Taurasi (or the rest of the Phoenix Mercury) weren't thinking about records that night. Instead, they were thinking about their teammate, Brittney Griner, and their common goal of winning a championship.

"You know, she gets beat up every game," Taurasi added of Griner, "and you don’t really see the retaliation and you don’t really see her get flustered. As a veteran you can take that and actually learn from a young kid like that."

You can be sure that Taurasi is rubbing off an younger players like Griner too:

"When I saw BG on the floor the second time," Taurasi said, "I said 'get up right now.' I was like 'get up, we’re gonna go do this right now.'"

And she did. Griner finished the night the high-scorer for Phoenix with 19.

"Is she gonna need stitches?," Taurasi shouted into the locker room. She didn't wait for an answer: "We'll just put some gum on it, she's fine."

And despite her chipped tooth, swollen cheek, and bloody eye, Griner laughed a hearty, deep Taurasi-like laugh.

Which just goes to show there's a little bit of Diana, the hunter/bull in this whole Mercury team.

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EDD Plays Through Injury, Shines in Game 2

EDD Plays Through Injury, Shines in Game 2

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Despite the outcome of the game, Chicago fans have to be encouraged by the play of Elena Delle Donne in Game 2.

Delle Donne, who has been nursing a back injury since the Eastern Conference Semifinals, played 27 minutes (compared to just 10 in Game 1) and scored a team-high 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting in Chicago's 97-68 loss to Phoenix.

"I was able to get warm and feel some relief, unlike the past few games, so that was definitely positive, but obviously a terrible result in the end," Delle Donne said.

Delle Donne credited the new back brace that she wore on Tuesday with giving her extra support. Perhaps even more telling, however, was that eight of her 22 points came in the fourth quarter, whereas in her previous two games she logged only three minutes combined in the second half.

"I think I started off hesitant, but once I realized I was able to move kind of like myself, I was able to get confidence," she said.

Looking ahead to Game 3, EDD has renewed confidence in her physcial condition.

"I think with the brace and all, I think I'll be able to finish out the series and figure it out after the season." Delle Donne said.

The 2014 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile now turn to Chicago where the Sky will host Game 3 on Friday night.

"Luckily we get to go home, but there's some much we need to fix," she said. "Being home won't fix all the mental mistakes we made today, so there's a lot we need to clean up and fix and start believing in order to stay close with them and compete."

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Mercury crush Sky 97-68 in Game 2 of WNBA Finals

Mercury crush Sky 97-68 in Game 2 of WNBA Finals

PHOENIX (AP) Chicago scratched Brittney Griner across the eyelid, chipped one of her teeth and bloodied her lip.

Staggered by the blows, Phoenix's lanky center fought back the best way she knows how; by scoring and swatting shots.

Now the Mercury are on the verge of delivering the knockout blow after finishing off the most lopsided game in WNBA Finals history.

Griner shook off two blows to the face to finish with 19 points, Diana Taurasi added 18 and the Mercury made it two straight routs in the WNBA Finals with a 97-68 win over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night.

''That's pretty amazing how mature Brittney is to handle something like that because she did get pretty hurt,'' Taurasi said. ''For her to keep her focus and not let herself get rattled and consumed by that, shows a lot of maturity. I know I couldn't have done that.''

The underdog Sky were far more aggressive after being blown out in Game 1, fighting Phoenix for every inch while battering Griner in the first half.

Griner and her teammates shrugged it off, running away from Chicago with a 15-2 run in the second quarter and grabbing a firm hold on the best-of-five series.

Phoenix set a finals record by shooting 58 percent in the opener and almost topped it, hitting 56 percent from the floor after missing five shots in the final minute.

The Mercury outscored Chicago 52-24 in the paint and had all five starters score in double figures.

Taurasi keyed the big first-half run, DeWanna Bonner finished with 15 points and Penny Taylor added 14. Griner anchored the defense, blocking four shots after setting a finals record with eight in the opener.

Elena Delle Donne led the Sky with 22 points after playing 11 minutes in Game 1 due to lower-back pain.

Game 3 is Friday in Chicago, where the Sky will have to find some way of slowing the rising Mercury or the series will be over.

''We have to stop the bleeding a lot faster and we can't make as many mental mistakes because they make you pay for them,'' Delle Donne said. ''We have a lot of things to clean up.''

Game 1 was a blowout from the opening tip, the Mercury racing out to a 22-point halftime lead as Griner swatted Chicago's shots and Candice Dupree hit her first 10 shots.

The Sky were much more aggressive at the start of Game 2, pressuring the Mercury into mistakes and tough shots while taking their first lead of the series.

Even better news for Chicago, Delle Donne's cranky back appeared to be in decent shape. Last season's WNBA Rookie of the Year moved freely and had 12 points in the first half.

The Sky couldn't sustain it, no matter how much they knocked Griner around.

The league's defensive player of the year went down hard midway through the first quarter, when Sylvia Fowles inadvertently hit her on the right eye while fighting for a rebound.

Griner lay on the floor for several seconds and appeared to have trouble seeing before going to the bench with a scratch across her eyelid.

She returned to the game, but got hit again late in the second quarter, this time an elbow to the face by Sasha Goodlett.

Griner tossed aside her chipped tooth, spit blood behind the basket, hit two free throws and dropped in another shot at the rim on Phoenix's next possession.

''To her credit, BG is tough as nails,'' Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.

While Griner was getting beat up, Taurasi put on a show.

She hit a long 3-pointer and scored on a three-point play during the 15-2 run, and then added another 3 from the corner for 13 points in the quarter. Taurasi had 16 in the half and Phoenix led 51-36 after Erin Phillips scored on a three-point play in transition with 0.5 seconds left.

So much for Chicago's extra effort.

The Sky never recovered from Phoenix's big run, falling into a huge hole in the series.

''There were just so many horrible sequences,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. ''You can't do that against any team, let alone the best team in the league in the finals. We never gave ourselves a chance.''

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Delle Donne Remains Optimistic Despite Injury

Delle Donne Remains Optimistic Despite Injury

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- As Elena Delle Donne arrived on the court on Monday for media availability, she expressed subdued optimism about her back injury.

Although she said she didn't sleep well -- "I just couldn't get comfortable. Any time I moved, I feel like it woke me up," -- she appeared as focused and as motivated as ever to work towards even the slightest improvement in her condition so that she can tough it out for Game 2.

Game 2 is Tuesday night at 9PM ET on ESPN at the US Airways Center in Phoenix.

The focus for EDD right now is limiting the inflamation in her back. For that, she is constantly doing therapy, getting electrical stimulation and ice treatment. She was not on the floor for the begininng of Chicago's practice sessions, opting instead for one-on-one treatment on the sideline.

Delle Donne has also introduced two new treatments. She has taken muscle relaxers and will be wearing a new back brace on Tuesday night.

"Hopefully it can support my back a little bit more," she said of the brace. "It's to help with me arching my back and keeping me in a better posture."

Delle Donne said her plan for Tuesday is the same as it was for Game 1. She's going to warmup and hope to play as much as she can.

"I'm still very optimistic that tomorrow I'll be a little bit better and get some more playing time."

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Delle Donne Calls Back Injury A Nightmare

Delle Donne Calls Back Injury A Nightmare

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Elena Delle Donne was hopeful that her back would improve for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile, but unfortunately the lingering issue only seemed to get worse.

Delle Donne played just over 10 minutes in Chicago's loss on Sunday, sitting out the entire second half. She finished with two points on 1-for-4 shooting.

"It got worse," Delle Donne said. "It felt good to start. I thought it was going to be a good day in warmups and then probably two minutes of play went by and the paralyzing pain came right back where it goes into my legs. It doesn't get better once it gets back."

The 6-foot-5 guard/forward said that it wasn't necessarily a specific moment in the game that triggered the pain, but just the cumulative strain of movement.

When asked about what it was like to watch the second half from the bench, EDD was candid in her remarks.

"It's terrible. It's like a nightmare," she said while leaning against a wall in the Chicago locker room. "To finally get to where you want to be and then have debilitating pain that's not even the Lyme (Disease), so it's just crazy to think getting hit with two bullets in one season, but hopefully we'll be able to figure something out."

Delle Donne, who missed 17 games this season as a result of symptoms from Lyme Disease, says she will get right back to treating her back, but the superstar did not sound optimistic that a remedy was near.

"I don't know if there something that can relieve the pain," she said. "At this point, nothing's really worked."

Delle Donne says that she's had minor back issues her entire life, but nothing this to this degree. The second-year pro has proven that she can play through pain, but she said she didn't have that option on Sunday.

"There was no getting through it today," Delle Donne said. "I just feel like it's gotten progressively worse unfortunately. Hopefully someone will give me some answers and get me at least to be able to play through it. At this point, there's nothing I can do."

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Brittney Griner Brings It All to the Block Party

Brittney Griner Brings It All to the Block Party

Brittney Griner is an athletic enigma.

According to her teammates, Griner (or BG as they call her) is an "athlete," a "protector," and a "life-saver" when they run into trouble on defense, but you'd never know it from her post-game interviews where we spent a few minutes talking about the game before the conversation turns to her pre-game meals (which, in this case, happened to be candy corn pumpkins).

Enigma or not, one thing we can all agree about BG is that she forces people to change their shots. Part of that is her towering 6'8" frame, but she didn't win Defensive Player of the Year by just standing there.

"What sets her apart is her agility and ability to move side to side," Diana Taurasi said after the game. "Obviously her length and her athleticism speaks for itself, but she’s more than just a 6’8" post player, she’s an athlete. And she knows when to use it."

There was no question that Griner was a standout in this game. She set a WNBA Finals record for most blocks in a quarter just seven minutes into the first quarter with five blocks. Later on, she raked in three more blocks setting the WNBA Finals record for most blocks in a game with eight.

While this says a lot about Griner's defense by itself, it also says a lot for Phoenix's defense on a whole.

"She’s a force down there," Penny Taylor said of Griner's role. "When we know she’s got our back in the key and she protects the basket the way she does we can afford to be more aggressive on the perimeter and then we can do a lot of different things knowing that she’s so good at anticipating when we need help and protecting the rim the way she does."

Defense aside, Brittney Griner also contributed 12 points. A few key putbacks and a few of off pick and rolls that she made look easy.

It's not wonder this Phoenix team and Griner herself are breaking records left and right. But BG doesn't think about that when there's still a title on the line.

"It feels good, you know. It feels really good to be breaking all these records ,but they’re not gonna mean anything until we win the championship," she said.

And just for good measure, you can be sure she'll be going into Game 2 with the same mindset as she did in Game 1 (and every game this season for that matter):

"I'll just keep doing the same thing. Eat some candy, drink some soda, play a basketball game."

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Five Observations From Game 1

Five Observations From Game 1

It was all smiles for the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday as they stormed out to a 1-0 lead in the 2014 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile.

Here are five things you need to know about Game 1.

METTING IN MIDDLE

The highly anticipated matchup in the middle was largely one-sided, at least in the early going. Brittney Griner patroled the paint with an iron fist and finished with a WNBA Finals record eight blocks. In the process, she flustered Sylvia Fowles, who missed 10 of her first 14 shots. In addition to altering her attempts, Griner made it difficult for the Sky to initiate entry passes, and forced a few turnovers that way as well.

Fowles did settle down late in the game and get more comfortable -- scoring a team-high 22 points to go with 11 rebounds -- but it was Griner (12 points, seven rebounds, eight blocks) that had the much bigger impact on the game.

"She challenges me to be better and I challenge her," Griner said of her matchup with Fowles. "It's always a good one."

PAIN IN THE BACK

The Sky's worst fears were realized when Elena Delle Donne again started suffering from the back injury that has limited thus far in the postseason. In fact, EDD only played 10:24, and not a minute in the second half.

"It got worse," Delle Donne said about not coming in in the second half. "It felt good to start. I thought it was going to be a good day in warmups and then probably two minutes of play went by and the paralyzing pain came right back where it goes into my legs, and it doesn't get better once it gets back."

For the day, Delle Donne finished with two points on 1-for-4 shooting.

MERCURY TEAM DEFENSE

The Mercury put on a clinic on the defensive side of the ball. While Griner stole the headlines with her eight blocks, the entire team played suffocating defense. Nothing came easy for the Sky on the offensive end and they finished the game shooting just 31.9 percent from the floor, but even that was padded by some easier buckets in garbage time. Heading into the fourth quarter, they Sky were were 12-for-52 (23.1 percent).

To make matters worse, the Mercury held the Sky to just eight points (a Finals record low) in the first quarter on 3-for-16 shooting.

"We do defense first and we kind of get excited when we get a stop on defense," Phoenix G/F DeWanna Bonner said. "That's the first thing that we say when we come out the huddle; let's get a stop then a score."

YOU, ME AND DUPREE

While the attention is normally focused on the likes of Griner and Diana Taurasi in Phoenix, Candice Dupree is one the most unsung players in the WNBA. She showed why on Sunday by scoring a game-high 26 points. Even more remarkable was that she went into halftime with 18 points without missing a shot (9-for-9). In all, she made 10 consecutive shots, a new WNBA Playoffs record.

"It was a lot of pick and pop," Dupree said of her offensive success. "I took a lot of shots I know I can make. Shots that I've been working on the last month, month and half in practice consistently, just shot after shot after shot."

MERCURY PASSING

At times the Mercury made it look easy, and that's because they moved the ball so well on the offensive end -- both in half-court sets and in transition. For the game, the Mercury had 27 assists on 38 baskets, compared to just 10 assists for the Sky.

Leading the way in terms of distribution was Diana Taurasi, who finished with 11 dimes on her way to her first double-double of this postseason. She also scored 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting.

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DuPree, Griner, Taurasi lead Mercury rout of Sky

DuPree, Griner, Taurasi lead Mercury rout of Sky

PHOENIX (AP) Brittney Griner swatted away just about everything within reach in the first quarter, setting the stage for a Phoenix rout.

Griner set a playoff record with eight blocked shots, five in the first quarter, and the Mercury soared past the Chicago Sky 83-62 on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

''Her improvement this year has been incredible,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. ''I don't think people really appreciate it. They assume when you are 6-8, you are supposed to do everything. She has really evolved her game in the last year. She's special.''

She showcased the remarkable mobility she has for someone who stands 6-foot-8.

''BG is a great help-side defender,'' teammate Candice Dupree said. ''If you get beat off the dribble, you kind of know that she's back there.''

Griner, the WNBA defensive player of the year, also had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Dupree made her first 10 shots and scored 26 for the Mercury in their 19th consecutive home victory. Diana Taurasi added 19 points and 11 assists.

Phoenix shot a finals record 58.5 percent from the field, Chicago 31.9 percent.

Sylvia Fowles scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Chicago but was just 8 of 20, usually against Griner in a matchup of the last two WNBA defensive players of the year. Elena Delle Donne only played 11 minutes because of a bad back. She finished with two points and didn't play in the second half with the game already out of reach.

Delle Donne said she took herself out of the game because she thought she was hurting her team, and she hoped sitting the rest of the game out would make her better prepared for Game 2 of the best-of-5 series, set for Tuesday night in Phoenix.

''We're definitely a resilient team,'' Delle Donne said. ''I still think we bounced back in the second half and put together a much better 20 minutes. I feel like we were able to settle in and get a little bit more comfortable and play with confidence, something we need to take in for the next game.''

Alley Quigley, who was the league's sixth woman of the year, scored 13 points for the Sky. She missed 11 of her 15 shots.

Phoenix led from the opening basket, was up by 22 at the half and by as many as 30 in the third.

''I don't think we ever quite recovered from that first quarter,'' Chatman said. ''... We just got on our heels and never quite recovered from it.''

Griner's five first-quarter blocks broke the playoff record for a half. She finished with six at halftime.

She expected the challenge in the paint.

''I knew they were going to come at me, definitely,'' Griner said. ''I would come at myself too. I wasn't surprised at all.''

Meanwhile, Dupree couldn't miss, going 9 for 9 in the first half, capped by a layup on a halfcourt pass from Taurasi just before the buzzer to put Phoenix up 42-20, the largest halftime lead in WNBA Finals history.

Griner dominated Fowles, blocking three of the Chicago center's first four shots and holding her to 2 of 9 shooting in the first half.

Phoenix shot 64.5 percent in the first half (20 for 31) to the Sky's 8 of 36 (22 percent).

Chicago, the No. 4 seed in the East, trailed just 17-12 after Fowles' inside basket with 8:53 to go in the second quarter, then Phoenix outscored the Sky 25-8 the rest of the half.

DuPree scored six in a 10-0 run that made it 27-12 with 6:45 to go in the half, and Chicago never got closer than 12 again.

''Being that this was my first finals, I tried to not put too much pressure on myself,'' Dupree said. ''Just go out there and play the way I know how and take shots that I know I can make.''

Chicago rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit in the deciding first-round game against the East's top seed Atlanta.

But there was no such comeback against the Mercury.

Phoenix scored the first eight of the second half to lead 50-20.

Notes: The Mercury won the title in 2007 and 2009, Chicago is in the finals for the first time. ... Phoenix's only home loss was May 23 against San Antonio, the Mercury's third game of the season. ... The previous record for largest halftime lead was 20 points by Los Angeles against Detroit in 2003. ... Phoenix is 3-0 against Chicago this season. ... The previous record for blocks in a game was seven by Lisa Leslie on three occasions, twice in 2001, once in 2002.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Top 5 Storylines of the 2014 WNBA Finals

Top 5 Storylines of the 2014 WNBA Finals

The 2014 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile tip off on Sunday, September 7 at 3:30PM ET on ABC.

Here are the top storylines you need to know before action begins.

EDD'S HEALTH

There are many that think Chicago's hopes in this series hinge on Elena Delle Donne's health and the numbers prove it. With EDD in the lineup this season, Chicago went 14-8 (.636). With her sidelined, the Sky struggled, going 5-13 (.278). After being severly limited in the Eastern Conference Finals with a back injury, Delle Donne says she is "hopeful" that the treatment she is receiving will improve her condition by Game 1 on Sunday.

"It hurts all the time, but especially when I start playing," Delle Donne said of her back. "If I get hit a little bit, that's when it's bugging me, but it's getting stronger, so I'm hopeful it'll be a little better tomorrorow, too."

MATCHUP IN THE MIDDLE

Brittney Griner, who at 6-foot-8 towers over most of her opposition, is a combination of size and athleticism that we've rarely, if ever, seen out of a center in this league. Perhaps the only big in the league that can match her in those categories is her counterpart in this series, the 6-foot-6 Sylvia Fowles. Out of all the intriguing individual matchups in this series, this one between what Diana Taurasi described as the "two best true centers in the world" is the must-see. Fowles has stepped up to be the driving force for the Sky in the postseason, averaging 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds, while Griner, the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, counters with 17.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during the Mercury's Playoff run.

The two are equally excited for the matchup.

"I'm happy because Brittney brings a lot to the table, her length, her ability and the stuff she can do on the floor," Fowles said." So either that can make you or break you, and I feel like in these sitautions I always step up and I 'm ready for a challenge."

"It definitely gets me excited going up against somebody my size," Griner said. "You normally don't get to go up against someone your size when you're 6-foot-8."

How's that for an understatement?

ADDING TO LEGACY?

Although Diana Taurasi claims she is not thinking about it all, a win in this series could vault her into yet another exclusive club. If the Mercury defeat the Sky, Taurasi and Penny Taylor would each win their third WNBA title. Currently, only nine players have ever won three or more titles, with a quintet of Houston Comets holding the all-time record with four apiece (1997-2000). When asked about this, Taurasi responded: "I'm worried about 12:30 (Sunday). In fact, I'm worried about what I'm going to have for lunch and then we'll go from there."

Priorities aside, the feat at hand for Taurasi and Taylor also speaks to the experience discrepancy in this series. In addition to Taurasi and Taylor, Mercury guard Erin Phillips recently won a title in 2012 with Indiana Fever. On the other hand, the Chicago Sky earned their first Playoff victory as a franchise this postseason.

FINDING A HOME

For Jessica Breland and Allie Quigley, success has not come easily in the WNBA. Breland, a 6-foot-3 forward, has played for four teams over the course of three WNBA seasons. For Quigley, this is her fifth team since 2008 when, ironically, she began her career with Phoenix. Tthis year, however, has been an awakening for both. Breland stepped into a major role with Sylvia Fowles out for 14 games to start the season, and she responded by being named a 2014 All Star. Quigley, on the other hand, logged 24.8 minutes per game off the bench (her previous career-high was 9.4mpg), and parlayed that into winning the Sixth Woman of the Year Award presented by Samsung.

With many calling Phoenix the heavy favorite in this series, here's two players that will not take time to think about the odds stacked against them.

BEST TEAM EVER?

The conversation has to be had now.

After Phoenix won a WNBA record 29 games during the regular season - passing the record previously shared by Los Angeles (28-4 in both 2000 and 2001) and Seattle (28-6 in 2010) -- they already found themselves in rare air. Now that they've cruised to the Finals and defeated the defending champion Lynx in the process, the valid question now is: If the Mercury win the championship, are they the greatest team ever?

The Mercury wll try to make that claim starting Sunday, 3:30PM ET on ABC.

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EDD

EDD "Hopeful" Her Back Improves

PHOENIX, Ariz. - As Elena Delle Donne began to speak to the media during Saturday's practice session at the U.S. Airways Center, she had a pad on her back and was hooked up to electrical stimulation.

Delle Donne, inarguably one of the most talented players in the WNBA, has been dealing with a back injury that severely limited her during the Eastern Conference Finals, including playing less than four minutes in the second half of the decisive Game 3 against Indiana on September 3.

"It's alright," she said. "I'm still dealing with some pain and trying to figure it out, but hopefully by tomorrow I'll get it better. I've been doing a lot of therapy and treatment and a lot of stretching and trying to keep the pain down as much as possible."

Game 1 of the 2014 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile is Sunday at 3:30PM ET on ABC.

When asked if she was in pain while taking questions, she said yes.

"It hurts all the time, but especially when I start playing," the 6-foot-5 Delaware product said. "If I get hit a little bit, that's when it's bugging me, but it's getting stronger, so I'm hopeful it'll be a little better tomorrow, too."

Despite the injury to its star player, Delle Donne says her team is "comfortable and relaxed."

"I feel like we're the comeback kids," she said. "We make it hard for ourselves, but somehow we've been able to come back, and obviously here, being the underdogs, it's the same sort of deal, so we just need to come out and play the same sort of basketball we've been playing all year long. Definitely that gritty basktball is what you're going to need to see."

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#WNBAFan Questions: Saturday's Practice Session

#WNBAFan Questions: Saturday's Practice Session

If you want to ask a member of the Phoenix Mercury or Chicago Sky a question, just submit your questions on Twitter using #WNBAFan and WNBA.com will ask them for you.

Here are some of the responses from Saturday's practice session at U.S. Airways Center.

@Snowstorm_20: @WNBA @De11eDonne How is the #WNBAFinals different from your NCAA experience? #WNBAFan

DELLE DONNE

"I mean NCAA, college is just completely different than pro. You’re on your own in pro, in your own routine, getting yourself ready for the games, whereas in college you’ve got team dinners, team meetings all this stuff. So that’s one big difference, but also in the NCAA I never even got to the Final Four and now I’m in the WNBA Finals, so that’s the biggest difference there."

@TooSmall2Dunk32: #WNBAFan Diana, what advice could you give a young player like me aspiring to be the best they can be?

TAURASI

"Enjoy it. Have fun. Basketball is not supposed to be a chore, it's supposed to be a passion, so love it and enjoy it."

@FlightTime23: J. Faulkner from the Sky What's the most difficult part about being a smaller guard in the #WNBAFinals #WNBAFan

FAULKNER

"Probably penetrating. I mean not necessarily getting to the rim, but finishing at the rim, trying to keep my eye on the goal and finish that because everybody’s so big. They make me alter a lot of my shots."

@Prestorikk: @WNBA @PhoenixMercury #WNBAFan How does it feel for Penny Taylor to be in the finals because she came a long way with injuries.

TAYLOR

"It feels amazing. Not only coming back from injury but we haven’t been here since 2009, so it’s huge for us and for me especially. There was a phase when I wasn’t sure I’d ever get back to playing let alone be in the Finals, so I feel very lucky to be on this team, to play for this club who supported me throughout those injuries."

@rivz_walker: @WNBA #WNBAFan Candice Dupree: What's your pre-game ritual like? How will you mentally prepare for tomorrow? P.S. YOU'RE THE BEST!

DUPREE

"Well tomorrow will be different because the game is so early, but tomorrow I'll just wake up, get something to eat and go to the gym. But normally, it's shootaround and then go get something to eat, go home, nap, shower and go to the game. I try to eat healthy -- no fried foods or anything like that."

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2014 WNBA Finals Preview: Phoenix vs. Chicago

2014 WNBA Finals Preview: Phoenix vs. Chicago

The 2014 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile are finally here. Out of the West, we have the Phoenix Mercury, the powerhouse presence that just convincingly upended last year's defending champion Minnesota Lynx. Out of the East, we have the league's Cinderella story in the Chicago Sky, who've overcome everything from injury, illness and large deficits.

Conventional wisdom points to the record-setting Mercury as the team to beat in this series, but the Sky have proven themselves resilient in the most unlikely situations with countless clutch plays and unsung heroes stepping up when they needed it the most.

Here's what you need to know before Game on Sunday (3:30PM ET, ABC).

Regular Season Meetings

Because the Sky and Mercury are in different conferences, they only met twice this season and the Mercury won both times. Missing from those two games was Elena Delle Donne, who is currently battling a sore back that severely limited her in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the second meeting, Chicago lost by only six points, thanks to 23 points from Sylvia Fowles, who will be matched up with Brittney Griner for the duration of this series.

July 11: Phoenix 72, Chicago 66

How They Got Here

The Mercury have gone 4-1 in the postseason so far, losing only one game to the defending champion Lynx. In the first round, they put away the Sparks handily. The Sky are 4-2, taking both of their series to a Game 3. Those series, however, were against the two toughest teams in the East, including last year's Eastern Conference champions the Atlanta Dream. The Sky have routinely made clutch shots throughout the postseason and have proved that they are a team that knows how to perform, especially under pressure.

Keys

Phoenix: Beware of underestimating Chicago. It's easy with all of the hype surrounding the Mercury and the West to adopt a "we got this" attitude and loosen up a bit. That, however, is where Chicago will make you pay. If you're not on your toes every minute of every game, some of the unlikely heroes we've seen on this Sky team will gladly come and steal the game from you. If Delle Donne is healthy, the Mercury have to cut off her left hand drive. If not, Griner will have to watch out for Sylvia's Fowles' quiet dominance. Other factors include Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot who are very adept offensively and, although they don't have the repoire of players like Taurasi or Erin Phillips, they are fearless and determined. Given the chance, they will take Phoenix to the basket or breakdown a zone with clever passing.

Chicago: The Sky are up against arguably the best team that the WNBA has ever seen. With so many star players who have managed to stay healthy, the Mercury aren't letting up. The keys here are very obvious: deny, deny, deny. They cannot let Griner dominate the action on either end. In a moment of weakness in Game 2 against the Lynx, the Mercury showed that they can get flustered, and therefore, beating the Mercury might come down to a mental game.

Player Matchups

Elena Delle Donne/Sylvia Fowles vs. Brittney Griner - These matchups are the key to this series. Who can shut down the other? Chicago has to find a way to keep Griner from getting the ball while Griner (Defensive Player of the Year) can't let up because, before you know it, Fowles and Delle Donne (who are faster than Griner) will pull a quick move.

Diana Taurasi vs. Courtney Vandersloot - Although both are heads-up guards, it's clear that Taurasi has an edge in the experience department. Taurasi is heralded as one of the best guards in the league, however, in true Chicago Sky fashion, Vandersloot is quiet, tough, sneaky and resillient.

Allie Quigley vs. DeWanna Bonner - These two are kind of mismatched defensively, however, they do play somewhat of the same role on their respective teams. If one of these two explodes for a big game, it could make a world of difference as shown in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals when Allie Quigley put up 24 points.

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Sky headed to WNBA Finals after beating Fever

Sky headed to WNBA Finals after beating Fever

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) With a trip to the WNBA Finals on the line, Allie Quigley came through when her Chicago Sky teammates needed her the most.

Quigley scored 24 points and hit several big shots to help lead the Sky to a 75-62 victory over the Indiana Fever on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

She had 10 of her points in a key second quarter stretch that gave Chicago the lead for good. And with the Fever still hanging on late in the fourth quarter, Quigley drained a 3-pointer and hit free throws that led to a Sky celebration on Indiana's home court, ending the coaching career of Hall of Fame Fever coach Lin Dunn.

''It came down to hitting shots in the moment, relishing the moment,'' said Quigley, who was the WNBA sixth woman of the year. ''I just wanted to be aggressive and if it was going to be my night to be the big player, I was ready for it.''

Now the Sky, who made the playoffs for the first time ever last season before getting knocked out by Indiana in the first round, will face Phoenix in the Finals which start on Sunday.

Chicago dropped the first game in Indiana before winning the last two. Quigley said the Sky's game plan was simple for the decisive game - contain Tamika Catchings and avoid falling behind early. They succeeded on both accounts, limiting Catchings to nine points and using a pressuring defense from the outset to prevent Indiana from finding an early offensive flow - or any flow.

Indiana struggled to put together solid offensive stretches outside the one that put the Fever ahead 17-16 on a Marissa Coleman 3-pointer with 7:06 left before halftime. That was the Fever's only lead of the night, and they held it for just 14 seconds.

Executing the game plan early set the tone for the Sky. But Chicago wasn't overly impressive outside keeping Catchings at bay and riding its defense to a victory.

The Sky simply took advantage of 11 Indiana turnovers that they turned into 14 points, and they also capitalized on timely mental errors from the Fever.

On the final play of the first half, Courtney Vandersloot scored with 1.3 second to go on a layup in transition off an Indiana giveaway. That pushed Chicago's advantage to 37-29 at the break.

Chicago was able to maintain its lead in the third quarter, despite not having Elena Delle Donne on the floor for most of the period. She began getting attention from the Sky trainer with 5:15 left in the first half, and a lingering back injury sidelined her to begin the second half.

Even with Delle Donne on the bench, Indiana's struggles continued. Trailing 39-33, Briann January committed a foul that lead to two Tamera Young free throws with 4:09 left in the third, stalling the momentum Indiana appeared to be gaining.

Chicago's Epiphanny Prince found herself converting two free throws after a clear path foul was called against Indiana. And with 1:51 left in the third quarter, Indiana's Maggie Lucas was called for a foul against Quigley as the shot clock expired.

''Everything for us seemed to be a struggle,'' Dunn said. ''Slow defensive rotations, a bad pass, not being ready to knock down open shots and hesitation.''

While the Sky prepares for a Game 1 showdown Sunday at Phoenix, Dunn and the Fever are left wondering how they dropped the final two games of the series and missed an opportunity to advance to the WNBA Finals for a third time.

''(Chicago) played with a sense of urgency,'' Dunn said. ''I could sense that in them, a desperation to get to the finals. And I'm excited about the Chicago Sky representing the Eastern Conference.''

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Taurasi lifts Mercury to 96-78 win over Lynx

Taurasi lifts Mercury to 96-78 win over Lynx

PHOENIX (AP) Diana Taurasi has always had a knack for playing her best in the biggest games.

Taurasi scored 31 points, including hitting a key 50-footer at the end of the third quarter, to lift the Phoenix Mercury to a 96-78 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday night in the decisive game of the Western Conference finals.

Taurasi improved to 7-0 in her career in winner-take-all games.

''There is no player in the world I would rather have on my team,'' Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.

Down eight points at the half, Minnesota clawed back to tie the game at 67 before Taurasi took over. She hit a jumper and then connected on her shot from the other side of halfcourt to give the Mercury a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

She then scored the first eight points of the fourth to put the game away and give Phoenix an 80-67 lead with 7:19 left. Minnesota had eliminated Phoenix in the 2011 and 2013 en route to winning the title.

''For the most part, going in to the last couple of minutes of the third, they got the momentum, they were playing well, they were feeling good, they were making us feel uncomfortable,'' Taurasi said. ''Couple of plays turns that.''

Taurasi admitted that she hadn't made many halfcourt shots in practice.

''I never make them, I don't think I have made one all year,'' Taurasi said. ''I'll miss them all year to make that one.''

Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello noted the shot got the crowd back in the game after Minnesota had erased a double-digit lead in the final 90 seconds of the third.

''When anyone makes a big shot like that, you just think, `okay, it's our night,''' Brondello said. ''The look in their eyes, we just knew.''

The Mercury, which had the best record in the league, will face the winner of Wednesday's Chicago-Indiana game.

''I thought that Phoenix played great, they were hard to play against,'' said Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve, who got ejected after receiving two technical fouls with 1:58 left. ''It's not like we played that bad. I got a good team. I thought that we just didn't get done some things we were trying to do on Griner and then Dee. I saw Dee before the game and I told our staff, `Dee's got a bounce in her step.'''

Minnesota, which had made the WNBA Finals the past three seasons, missed its first 10 shots of the fourth period, falling behind 85-67 midway through the quarter.

Seimone Augustus had 13 of her 21 points in the third quarter as the Lynx erased a 10-point deficit. Lindsay Whalen had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists but missed four straight shots to start the fourth quarter.

''Taurasi hits a halfcourt shot, tough shot, that was momentum, that was a momentum play for them,'' Whalen said. ''After that we had a hard time getting stops, we started taking tough shots, they weren't falling, the shots that were falling in the first, weren't.''

Moore had 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting.

''We put a lot of pressure on Lindsay, Seimone and Maya to have to make plays,'' Reeve said. ''I got nothing out of my post players. That was unfortunate from an offensive standpoint.''

Whalen, Augustus and Moore scored 57 of the Lynx's 78 points. Center Janel McCarville was held scoreless and Rebekkah Brunson had four points and eight rebounds.

Phoenix outscored Minnesota 56-34 in the lane.

''We just had an aggressive mentality tonight,'' Brondello said. ''I thought in the second game we did not and tonight we went back to doing what we do best.''

Brittney Griner had 22 points, six rebounds and four assists for Phoenix. DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree each added 14 for the Mercury.

Phoenix, 29-5 during the regular season, has not been in the finals since winning the title in 2009. The Mercury have won 18 straight home games, last losing to San Antonio on May 23.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Fowles leads Sky past Fever in 2OT to even series

Fowles leads Sky past Fever in 2OT to even series

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Courtney Vandersloot and her Chicago Sky teammates would prefer to take the lead early on. Instead, they have been rallying from big deficits in the WNBA playoffs.

In their latest game, Sylvia Fowles scored 27 points to help the Sky overcome a 14-point deficit to outlast the Indiana Fever 86-84 in double-overtime on Monday, evening the best-of-3 Eastern Conference finals.

The Sky rallied from 14 points down in Game 1 before falling to the Fever 77-70. Chicago also beat Atlanta in the decisive Game 3 of the first round after trailing by 20 points.

''We would all love to be the team that pushes out to the lead,'' Vandersloot said. ''But at this point, when it happens, this is playoffs. That's an experienced basketball team over there. We just need to know we've been in this position before and that's one thing that keeps us together. We've done it before and we're just going to keep pushing.''

Game 3 is Wednesday in Indianapolis. The winner will face either defending champion Minnesota or Phoenix in the finals.

Vandersloot had 18 points and Allie Quigley added 16 for the fourth-seeded Sky, who earned their first home playoff victory. Both of Chicago's victories in the first round against Atlanta came on the road.

''It's second nature for them to bounce back and stick together and feed off each other,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said.

All-Star Elena Delle Donne had just nine points on 4-for-11 shooting but her layup gave the Sky a four-point lead with 1:41 left in the second overtime. Chatman said Delle Donne dealt with tightness in her back.

Shavonte Zellous scored 20 points, Tamika Catchings had 16 and Erlana Larkins added 15 for the second-seeded Fever, the 2012 WNBA champions who are trying to reach the finals for the third time in six years.

''All they lack is playoff experience, and they're getting that now,'' Fever coach Lin Dunn said.

Though Fowles overcame early foul trouble and was dominant against a smaller team, backcourt play proved the difference for Chicago. While the Fever's guards won the matchup in Game 1, the Sky's guards triumphed in Game 2.

Indiana's Briann January had eight points after scoring 19 in Game 1. For Chicago, Quigley and Vandersloot combined for 34 points on 11-for-25 shooting and 10 assists.

''They've got to be shooting over us, not going by us,'' Dunn said. ''It'll be a battle of the backcourts, and everybody else will be on Sylvia. And then who's got Delle Donne?''

Fowles picked up her third foul with 6:34 left before halftime. With Fowles out, the Fever extended their lead from six to 14. She scored 21 points after halftime.

''She didn't melt on screens, she didn't disappear. She stayed aggressive,'' Chatman said. ''We fed the monster. She was in beast mode in every aspect of it.''

The Sky dropped to 9-33 all-time against the Fever, including a sweep by Indiana in the first round last year.

''They know this means nothing if they don't complete the deal in a couple days,'' Chatman said.

The Sky went on a 10-0 run to pull within one in the third. Delle Donne hit a three with 6:15 left in regulation for the Sky's first lead since the first quarter.

Delle Donne's jumper rattled in and out with under 4 seconds left in regulation, but Tamera Young rebounded and scored to tie it with 1 second left.

In the first overtime, Catchings' jumper tied it at 79 with 58.1 seconds left. Fowles was called for an offensive foul about 9 seconds later. After a miss by Catchings, she stole the ball, but January missed a jumper before the buzzer.

In the second overtime, January made two free throws with 12.2 remaining to cut the lead to one before Fowles hit a free throw for the final margin with 8.8 seconds left. Zellous missed a jumper before time expired.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

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Results for October 2014

USA Advances to Final With With Over Australia

USA Advances to Final With With Over Australia

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Tina Charles scored 18 points and Maya Moore added 16 to help the U.S. beat Australia 82-70 on Saturday night in the semifinals of the women's world championship.

The U.S. will face Spain in the gold-medal game Sunday. Spain beat host Turkey 66-56 for its first trip to the championship game. The Spanish team won a bronze medal at the 2010 worlds.

The Americans had to work hard for this victory -- as is usually the case when these powers in women's basketball meet. The U.S. won its first four games of the tournament by an average of almost 48 points but couldn't put pesky Australia away until the fourth quarter.

Up 61-55 early in the fourth, the U.S. went on a 15-2 run, with Charles scoring six points in the burst to seal the outcome.

The Aussies have come far with a gold medal in the 2006 worlds and three silver medals and a bronze at the Olympics, but they have yet to beat the U.S. in a major international competition, including an 0-10 mark at the worlds. Australia avoided playing the U.S. in 2006 when Russia beat the Americans in the semifinals.

After failing to win a medal at the 2010 worlds, Australia will face host Turkey in the third place game.

A night after the U.S. shot a team record 71 percent in a win over France, the Americans had a tougher time against Australia. The game got off to a relatively slow start, with more fouls in the first few minutes than points. Brittney Griner, who had been so good through the tournament's first four games, picked up two fouls in six minutes and was benched for most of the half.

Without the 6-foot-8 star guarding the lane, the Australians were able to get to the basket and keep things close.

The U.S. led 24-22 with 5:53 left in the half before Charles took over. The 2012 WNBA MVP scored six points during a 10-1 run with a putback, jumper and hook shot. The hook made it 34-23 with 3:43 left before the break. The U.S. went into the half up 42-30.

Erin Phillips and Leilani Mitchell kept Australia in the game in the third quarter. Mitchell had nine of her points in the period while Phillips had seven of her 19 as the Aussie trailed 61-52 heading to the fourth.

Phillips opened the final period with a 3-pointer that brought the Australia fans to their feet, but then Charles and the U.S. took command.

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USA Routs France to Reach Semifinals

USA Routs France to Reach Semifinals

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Brittney Griner scored 17 points, Tina Charles added 15 and the U.S. shot a record 71 percent from the field to rout France 94-72 Friday night in the quarterfinals of the women's world championship.

The Americans will face Australia in the semifinals on Saturday.

France had handed the U.S. a rare exhibition loss on Sept. 21, rallying from an 18-point deficit for the four-point win. In that game Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi combined to shoot 4-for-23 from the field and Griner wasn't with the team.

That wasn't the case Friday night. Moore got the U.S. going by hitting a 3-pointer to open the game. Then the Americans started pounding the ball inside to Griner and Charles and the French had no answer.

The U.S. outscored France 62-24 in the paint, which led to shooting that shattered the previous team record of 69 percent set against Taiwan in 1986. Griner had nine points in the opening quarter, displaying a nifty set of post moves that either produced baskets or drew fouls. Charles was equally effective -- when she wasn't feeding it inside to Griner, she was scoring from inside and out.

The U.S. led 29-14 after the first period and extended the lead in the second, as the Americans' depth proved too much. Angel McCoughtry scored six straight points, including a spectacular drive from the wing after coach Geno Auriemma yelled "take her, Angel." That made it 44-21.

France made a mini-run scoring seven straight to close to 46-28 before Taurasi hit a 3-pointer -- her first shot of the game to end the burst.

The Americans led 53-32 at the half. Sandrine Gruda scored 18 to lead France.

The U.S. continued its dominance in the second half. France occasionally slowed down the Americans' fastbreak, but on one play, Moore grabbed a rebound, dribbled up the court going behind her back and fired a no-look pass to Charles for a layup that made it 68-42.

France came within 17 in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer.

The U.S. has won 30 straight games at the world championship and Olympics since falling to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 worlds. The Americans also improved to 7-1 against France in the worlds. The lone loss came in 1971.

In other games on Friday, Spain beat China 71-55, and Turkey topped Serbia 62-61. They will meet in the other semifinal Saturday.

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USA Set to Take on France

USA Set to Take on France

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Maya Moore and her U.S. teammates know what's at stake now. A loss and their world championship run would be over.

Standing in the way of another trip to the medal round is France, a team that handed the Americans a rare defeat on Sept. 21 in an exhibition game. The teams will meet again in the quarterfinals of the tournament Friday night.

"Naturally losing a game is going to open your eyes," Moore said. "For us, we don't want to have to be reminded of those lessons by taking a loss, but that's what happened. We're going to make the most of it by taking those feelings as motivation going into tomorrow's game."

It would be easy for the Americans to make excuses for their 76-72 loss to France. Moore and Diana Taurasi shot a combined 4-for-23 from the field, and Brittney Griner wasn't with the team yet.

Coach Geno Auriemma doesn't buy into any of that talk.

"If you're a great team you have to figure out how to win when two of your best players aren't making shots," he said. "Can't say well we have an excuse because they didn't make any shots. You still have to find out how to win games. We had an opportunity to win that game and didn't take advantage of it. And they did."

Moore was more concerned with aspects that the Americans can control than her poor shooting night.

"We didn't have the focus and energy that was required to beat them on their home court," she said. "We definitely are excited to get another shot at playing better and playing together and being more connected now that we've been together that much longer against a team that if they get going they can be dangerous."

The last time these teams met before France's win was in the gold medal game of the 2012 London Olympics which the Americans won by 36 points. The U.S. has won 29 straight games at the world championship and Olympics since falling to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 worlds.

Despite the exhibition loss to France, the Americans have looked strong at the worlds. They won their three preliminary round games by an average of 42 points, including a record 75-point victory over Angola on Tuesday to close out pool play Tuesday.

"This team's been pretty good since we've been whole, our entire team's been together," Auriemma said. "That Angola game was a prime example of that. We put it all together. So it's a medal game, quarterfinal game, regardless of who we're playing tomorrow night the attention is certainly going to be there."

In other quarterfinal play Friday, Australia will meet Canada, Serbia faces Turkey and China plays Spain.

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Results for November 2014

New York Liberty, Laimbeer Part Ways

New York Liberty, Laimbeer Part Ways

The New York Liberty announced today that the franchise has not renewed the contract of Bill Laimbeer, the team's general manager and head coach.

"We thank Bill for his hard work and contributions to the New York Liberty," said Allan Houston, the New York Knicks' assistant general manager, who also oversees Liberty basketball operations. "The Liberty are a proud original member of the WNBA, with a loyal and passionate fan base. We will begin our search immediately to secure a general manager and coach to help us move forward and reach our ultimate goal of a WNBA Championship."

In two seasons under Laimbeer, the Liberty posted a 26-42 record (.382).

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USA Wins Gold in FIBA World Championship

USA Wins Gold in FIBA World Championship

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Maya Moore scored 18 points and the U.S. beat Spain 77-64 to win its second straight gold medal at the women's world championship Sunday.

Lindsay Whalen added 12 points for the United States (6-0), which hasn't lost in a gold medal game in the world championship since 1983, when it was beaten by the Soviet Union 84-82. Except for a hiccup in 2006 when the Americans lost to Russia in the semifinals, they have won every Olympic and world championship game since 1996. If not for that upset in Brazil, the U.S. would have five straight world titles.

The Americans turned this game quickly into a laugher, jumping out to a 13-point lead in the game's first 4.5 minutes. Spain (5-1) could only get within seven the rest of the way.

Moore, who was chosen tournament MVP, was the key in that early burst, scoring 11 points during the opening 18-5 run. Her 3-pointers barely moved the net as the Americans blitzed Spain, which was making its first appearance in the championship game.

Behind strong offensive rebounding, the Spaniards rallied to within 24-17, but then Whalen took over. She had nine points during a 13-0 run by the Americans spanning the end of the first and start of the second quarter to make it a 20-point game. Whalen ended the first quarter with a spectacular drive that ended with a floater in the lane right before the buzzer.

During the burst, Diana Taurasi threw a pinpoint pass to a streaking Seimone Augustus for another lay-in and the U.S. was off and running.

The Americans led 48-29 at the half. It was more of the same in the second half for the U.S., which led by 25 points before Spain closed the game with a 14-2 run.

While Taurasi only scored six points, she had eight assists. More importantly Taurasi was part of a stellar defensive effort by the U.S. on Spain's star Alba Torrens. She scored 28 points in Spain's semifinal win over Turkey but was held scoreless for the first 26 minutes of the game.

She finally hit a 3-pointer with 4:11 left in the third quarter, but that only made it a 21-point game. She finished with 10 points.

Sancho Lyttle led Spain with 16 points.

In other games Sunday, Australia routed Turkey 74-44 to win the bronze medal. Canada topped China 61-53 to finish fifth and France beat Serbia 88-74 for seventh place.

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Tamika Catchings to Retire After 2016 Season

Tamika Catchings to Retire After 2016 Season

Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings made a statement in a TV interview Thursday that acknowledged her intention to retire following the 2016 WNBA season. Today, the three-time Olympic gold medalist and perennial WNBA All-Star has confirmed those intentions, intending to retire following the 2016 season.

Tamika Catchings: "I will be retiring in 2016, Lord willing, if my body holds up. Although I plan to step away as a player, that is not to say I’ll step away from the game, hopefully. I am so thankful and blessed to have had an opportunity to play the game I have loved for so long. God has truly blessed me with an amazing playing career, and now it’s time to start transitioning to what He has for me beyond the lines of the basketball floor."

Drafted in 2001 by the Fever, Catchings was the 2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year and after 14 active seasons, she is the league’s all-time leader in steals and free throws. She will enter the 2015 season as the WNBA’s third-leading scorer and fourth-leading rebounder. The league MVP in 2011, she was the WNBA Finals MVP in 2012. She has been named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year an unprecedented five times, and has twice been the recipient of the league’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

Catchings’ career has been synonymous with Indiana Fever success on the court. The Fever owns a share of a WNBA-record 10 consecutive playoff appearances, and has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in seven of those 10 seasons. The Fever won the WNBA crown in 2012 and also reached the WNBA Finals in 2009. Catchings has played in every playoff game in franchise history, including its first appearance during her rookie season in 2002.

Fever President and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf added, "I know Tamika is relieved to get this announcement out; she has talked informally about wanting to play through the 2016 season as she continues to look at what is next in her extraordinary basketball career. I am proud that she will have played her entire career in an Indiana Fever uniform. Anyone who has not seen her play in person should do so in the next 24 months. She is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest overall players in the history of the women’s game. Her impact on and off the court is immeasurable."

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Results for December 2014

Lauren Jackson Returns to the Court

Lauren Jackson Returns to the Court

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Seattle Storm forward and former WNBA most valuable player Lauren Jackson played her first competitive match in 11 months on the weekend, admitting she was "terrible" while scoring 13 points to lead the Canberra Capitals to victory in Australia.

The 33-year-old Jackson had knee and hip operations this year which prevented her from playing for Seattle and then Australia during the September world championships.

The WNBL's Capitals, who had lost six of their last 10 games, won 73-70, with Jackson making three of nine field goals after entering the game midway through the first quarter.

Jackson, who also had five rebounds, tweeted, "I was terrible, but I'm soo happy we won."

Carrie Graf, Canberra's coach and former Australia coach, says Jackson "was extremely nervous, but she scored some vital points."

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Dan Hughes Signs Contract Extension With Stars

Dan Hughes Signs Contract Extension With Stars

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Stars head coach and general manager Dan Hughes has agreed to a multi-year contract extension, the organization announced today. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

"We are thrilled to have Dan Hughes as the leader of the San Antonio Stars for years to come," said RC Buford, President of Sports Franchises for Spurs Sports & Entertainment. "'For the past decade he's provided great stability and consistency to the Stars organization and our community as an excellent coach and leader. The future of the Stars organization remains bright with Coach Hughes at the helm."

Hughes first joined the Stars as head coach in 2005 prior to taking over general manager duties as well the following season. As the winningest coach in franchise history, Hughes has amassed 146 wins in nine seasons. He has led the Stars to seven playoff appearances in the last eight seasons, including a trip to the WNBA Finals in 2008. In his 13 years as a WNBA head coach, Hughes has amassed 222 wins -- second all-time in WNBA history behind Mike Thibault -- and is the league’s all-time leader in games coached (456).

"I look forward to the future with the San Antonio Stars and am honored that Spurs Sports and Entertainment wants me to continue to serve as general manager and head coach after 10 years," said Hughes. "Long term relationships are so rare in pro sports, so I feel extremely fortunate."

The longest tenured active coach in the league, Hughes is the only head coach in WNBA history to take three different franchises -- San Antonio, Cleveland and Charlotte -- to the playoffs. He has guided his teams to 11 playoff appearances in 14 total seasons, including guiding the Stars to a 24-10 mark in 2008, earning the best record in the league, the Western Conference title and the franchise’s first trip to the WNBA Finals. Additionally, Hughes has been named WNBA Coach of the Year twice (2001, 2007).

During Hughes’ tenure, Stars players have earned 14 WNBA All-Star nods, eight All-WNBA First and Second Team honors, five All-WNBA Rookie Team selections, five WNBA All-Defensive team honors and three Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Awards.

Over 40 of Hughes’ former players and assistants have gone on to coach at the high school, collegiate and professional level, including three current WNBA head coaches in the Western Conference and two full-time NBA assistants.

Hughes also serves as a member of the five-person USA Basketball Selection Committee - which selected the gold-medal winning teams for the 2010 and 2014 World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games.

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2015 WNBA Season Tips June 5

2015 WNBA Season Tips June 5

The reigning WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury, led by 2014 Finals MVP Diana Taurasi and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung Brittney Griner, will be among the 10 teams in action on Friday, June 5, when WNBA Tip-Off 2015 presented by Boost Mobile gets underway. The Mercury will receive its championship rings before playing host to the San Antonio Stars at 10 p.m. ET.

The defending Eastern Conference champion Chicago Sky and the Minnesota Lynx -- led by 2014 WNBA MVP presented by Samsung Maya Moore -- will also be in action on the league’s opening day, with Minnesota hosting the Tulsa Shock at 8 p.m. ET, and Chicago welcoming the Indiana Fever at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The first telecast features Tamika Catchings and the Indiana Fever hosting Elena Delle Donne and the Sky at 1 p.m. ET. That game will be followed by a rematch of the 2014 Western Conference Finals as Taurasi and the Mercury host Moore and the Lynx at 3 p.m. ET.

ESPN2, ABC, and NBA TV will televise up to 80 regular-season and postseason contests highlighting the league’s most talented players and top rivalries.

ESPN2 will air 11 games during the regular season and cap it off with extensive coverage of the WNBA Playoffs and Finals presented by Boost Mobile. All ESPN2 telecasts will also be available on WatchESPN. In addition, WNBA LiveAccess provides online and mobile viewing of live and archived WNBA games for the entire season.

In October of this year, the NBA and ESPN announced an extension of the partnership between the WNBA and ESPN. Under the terms of the new deal, WNBA games will continue to be televised on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC through the 2025 season. ESPN also will have enhanced in-progress highlight rights for the WNBA on digital and linear platforms. The deal extends the league’s relationship with ESPN, which commenced in 1997, to 29 years.

NBA TV will televise more than 40 games during the regular season and provide additional postseason coverage. The NBA TV schedule will be announced at a later date.

Other must-watch television matchups during the 2015 WNBA regular season include:

-- Five ESPN2 telecasts featuring former league MVPs going head-to-head, including a pair of clashes involving the Mercury (Taurasi, 2009) and Lynx (Moore, 2014), first on June 14 when Minnesota visits Phoenix; then on Aug. 30 when the teams meet in Minneapolis. Other MVP matchups will take place July 21 when Taurasi and Phoenix visit Los Angeles (Candace Parker, 2013); Aug. 4 as Moore’s Lynx pay a call to Parker’s Sparks; and Aug. 16 when Catchings (2011) and Indiana travel to the Valley of the Sun to face Taurasi and the Mercury.

-- The Mercury will appear on six ESPN2 telecasts. All-Star-laden Chicago (Delle Donne, Jessica Breland, Sylvia Fowles, Epiphanny Prince, and Courtney Vandersloot) will make four appearances, and Minnesota (Moore, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, and Lindsay Whalen), and Los Angeles (Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, and Kristi Toliver) will make three.

-- Western Conference rivals Minnesota and Phoenix, which met for the right to advance to the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile in 2011, 2013, and 2014, will square off twice on ESPN2 (in Phoenix on June 14 at 3 p.m. ET; and on Aug. 30 in Minneapolis at 7 p.m. ET).

-- A pair of games featuring a rematch of the 2014 Finals presented by Boost Mobile between Phoenix and Chicago. Both contests will air on ESPN2, with the Mercury first hosting the Sky on July 28 at US Airways Center. (10 p.m. ET), followed by an Aug. 9 matchup at Chicago’s home, Allstate Arena (1 p.m. ET).

-- A rematch of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals tips off on June 14, when Chicago meets Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (1 p.m.) in the first game of a doubleheader on ESPN2.

-- Season-long coverage on ESPN2 will include six Tuesday evening games and five Sunday telecasts.

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San Antonio Players Talk Becky Hammon

San Antonio Players Talk Becky Hammon

Back in August, Becky Hammon was named an Assistant Coach for the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. This season, the Spurs are off to a quietly hot start at 13-5 in the loaded Western Conference. Before the season started, WNBA.com chatted with Becky about joining the team -- but, she hadn’t seen much action yet.

Becky Hammon and Tony Parker Now that she’s had a couple months serving under legendary head coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, WNBA.com caught up with some of the Spurs players -- while in New York to play the Brooklyn Nets -- to hear how it’s been having Becky and her basketball expertise around:

Tony Parker, Point Guard: "It’s been great [having her around]. Obviously I knew her before she came here, so I’m just happy to see her grow and she’s got a great basketball mind so it’s great to have her."

Cory Joseph, Point Guard: "She’s doing a great job -- she really knows her stuff. I’ve learned a lot from her as a PG, you know she was a PG, so she knows the game and she’s doing a great job."

Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward: "Coach Pop does a lot of talking but when she does see things she comes and tells me during the game or at practice when she does her scouts. But she’s doing a good job. She knows personnel well, she knows the teams we are playing well and she’s just only going to get better."

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Mercury Announce Arena Naming Rights Deal

Mercury Announce Arena Naming Rights Deal

The Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced today that US Airways Center -- the home of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Arizona Rattlers, as well as the Valley’s premier concert venue -- is poised to take on a new name, Talking Stick Resort Arena, under an agreement reached between the two parties.

"Like Talking Stick Resort, this venue has become an iconic destination for entertainment in Arizona," said President Diane Enos of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the owner and operator of Talking Stick Resort. "Thousands of families and individuals have created long-lasting memories at this venue which makes its new name, ‘Talking Stick Resort Arena,’ all the more meaningful. We have a shared commitment with the Phoenix Suns in building a sense of community in the Valley and we are honored to help them provide a place for so many people to gather and celebrate."

The naming rights agreement for the downtown venue is a multi-year deal that builds substantially on the existing agreement between the two parties. The name change will be visible throughout the facility, with Talking Stick Resort Arena being prominent on the exterior of the building; on the underbelly of the center hung scoreboard; on the arena’s rooftop; and featured on the Suns and Mercury basketball courts. The Casino Arizona Pavilion -- the arena’s main lobby area -- will retain its name. Additional details on the provisions of the naming rights agreement will be released as the transition begins.

"We could not be more excited about our expanded relationship with Talking Stick Resort," said Phoenix Suns President Jason Rowley. "Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona has been a trusted and valued partner of the Phoenix Suns for many years. This naming rights agreement brings our partnership to a new level and will have an astral impact on the visibility of their support for the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and the entire community."

"This is an exciting day for Phoenix, and another example of what an incredible partner the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is for all of us," said City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. "We welcome the new name and look forward to the day when a Suns championship banner hangs from the rafters at Talking Stick Resort Arena."

American Airlines, the current naming rights partner and owner of US Airways, has fulfilled all of its obligations and elected not to extend its naming rights agreement beyond the 2014-15 season. The facility’s naming transition to Talking Stick Resort Arena, from US Airways Center, is expected to be completed before the beginning of the 2015-16 Phoenix Suns season.

US Airways Center, which opened in 1992, has earned a reputation for excellence, having received a prestigious Prime Site Award from Facilities & Event Magazine as well as a Top 30 ranking for North American Arenas from Pollstar. It hosts an average of 130 events each year with a collective annual audience of one million people. Not only is the arena the home of the Phoenix Suns, but also the three-time WNBA world champion Phoenix Mercury. It is also the home field for five-time arena football world champions, the Arizona Rattlers.

In the past year, the arena has welcomed blockbuster acts such as Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga, adding to its long list of legendary performances from U2, George Strait and Garth Brooks as well as many others. Upcoming events include the UFC’s first-ever visit to Arizona in December, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Church with Dwight Yoakam, Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull, and Bette Midler. The arena also is known for its family content and is the host site each year for Disney on Ice, Marvel Adventure and Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

The Phoenix Suns operate and manage all aspects of US Airways Center under a long term agreement with the City of Phoenix, which owns the facility.

Talking Stick Resort is a AAA Four Diamond Rated Resort and a central landmark within the emerging Talking Stick Cultural and Entertainment Destination. Talking Stick Resort is locally owned and proudly operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The 240,000 sq. ft. property offers culturally rich experiences and luxury accommodations throughout its 496 deluxe guest rooms, 11 restaurants and lounges, world-class spa, 650-seat showroom, 25,000 sq. ft. grand ballroom, thriving cultural center and more than 100,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

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Delaware 87ers Announce Parternship with EDD

Delaware 87ers Announce Parternship with EDD

NEWARK, DE -- Nov. 20, 2014 -- The Delaware 87ers today announced a partnership to name WNBA All-Star guard and former University of Delaware standout Elena Delle Donne the team’s Goodwill Ambassador and Spokesperson for the 2014-15 NBA Development League season. The team also released information regarding a Delle Donne six-game ticket pack, which will feature appearances by Delle Donne at select Sevens home games and events, in addition to a number of unique experiences only available with purchase.

"I am thrilled to join the 87ers this season as an Ambassador and so thankful for the unique vision they’ve demonstrated bringing me on," said Delle Donne. "We share a deep commitment to Delaware, to basketball and to providing the community with diverse, positive role models. It is an honor to represent them."

The 87ers host eight non-profit game nights throughout the season, including a select number in which Delle Donne will participate, including LymeAid 4 Kids Night and Special Olympics Night. She will also take part in Women’s Health Night, in addition to other Sevens events.

"The Delaware 87ers are excited to welcome Elena Delle Donne to the team for the upcoming season, initiating a partnership between two of basketball’s most recognizable brands in the state of Delaware," said 87ers President Aaron Moszer. "We’re confident in bringing Elena on board, the 87ers will be able to raise awareness to many great organizations in the community, in addition to spreading the team’s reach throughout the state."

The Delle Donne six-game pack includes tickets to the following games, and additionally will include a free admission to the Sevens home-opener on Tuesday December 2 at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 27 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers

Saturday, January 10 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Sunday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Texas Legends

Saturday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Canton Charge

Friday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Friday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Erie Bayhawks

Members who purchase a Delle Donne six-game pack will gain entrance to a private meet-and-greet reception with Delle Donne on Saturday, January 10 vs. Fort Wayne, enjoy a children’s pre-game clinic hosted by Delle Donne on Saturday, February 28 vs. Canton and receive an autographed picture with Delle Donne at the game on Friday, March 6 vs. Fort Wayne.

Ticket prices for the Delle Donne six-game pack start as low as $58 for reserved seats. To be purchase, visit www.Sevens.com/promo and enter the code ELENA.

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Delle Donne Named Lyme Ambassador

Delle Donne Named Lyme Ambassador

Elena Delle Donne has been public about her battle with Lyme disease.

Now the WNBA star will serve as the first national ambassador to help promote awareness of the tick-borne disease.

Delle Donne has dealt with the bacterial disease since 2008, and it caused her to miss 18 games on three separate occasions in college at Delaware. After seemingly having it under control, she sat out 17 games for the Chicago Sky this season.

"It's really special because Lyme disease has become part of my life now," Delle Donne said in a phone interview. "I learned that I'll wake up every day and deal with it. There are good days and bad days. If I can be a voice and reach out to people and make them aware of the disease it will help."

The ailment is named after Lyme, Connecticut, where the illness was first identified in 1975. It's often transmitted through the bites of infected deer ticks, and symptoms include a fever, headache and fatigue.

Sometimes there's a rash that looks like a bull's-eye centered around the tick bite. Most people recover with antibiotics, but if left untreated, the infection can cause arthritis and more severe problems.

Delle Donne wasn't fortunate enough to catch the disease early and it's a chronic problem for her. She hopes one day she'll be able to taper off the antibiotics she takes now.

"Maybe it happened for a reason, so that I can help others," said Delle Donne, who plans to speak at colleges and schools.

"We are delighted to welcome Elena as our first LRA Ambassador," said Lyme Research Alliance co-president Debbie Siciliano. "She will spread hope and courage to thousands of people affected by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases."

Delle Donne also became a global ambassador for Special Olympics this year. It's another cause dear to the 25-year-old, whose sister Lizzie is blind, deaf and has cerebral palsy and autism.

Meanwhile, the WNBA's 2013 rookie of the year is running a set of basketball camps for the second straight year, including two in Delaware this weekend. These camps will include Special Olympics athletes.

"The first camp was incredible to see the girls work together," Delle Donne said. "They immediately took the Special Olympic athletes under their wing. It was an infectious atmosphere. It's a special moment when you can break down barriers."

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How Jayne Appel Stays Busy in Offseason

How Jayne Appel Stays Busy in Offseason

Jayne Appel is a 6-foot-4 center for the San Antonio Stars. This offseason, she is an intern in the Sports Information Department at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

"I came to decision to not go overseas so I could get some experience in the real world - the non-professional sports world," Appel said. "After four years overseas and five years in the league, I thought it'd be best not only for my body to get a little bit of rest, but for me to get my foot in the door and figure out what I want to do post-playing."

At St. Francis, Appel is working under Director of Athletics Irma Garcia. Appel's tasks? "I've been throwing into everything," she says.

The day that WNBA.com was with Appel, it was the home opener for the St. Francis men's basketball team. On a day like this, Appel was involved in every detail of game preparation, even going as far as setting up the seats in the arena and putting seat covers on them.

"From game setup to ticket sales, they really do it all," Appel said of the members of the Athletic Department.

Another way the Texas native and Stanford product has passed the time is exploring the city she now lives in.

"It's very different from Texas, it's very different from California and even different from when we just come in and play the Liberty." Appel said. "Every day living in New York is wild. You never know what you're going to see. It's been awesome."

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WNBA Supports #1More4Lauren

WNBA Supports #1More4Lauren

The story of Lauren Hill, a college freshman with a terminal brain disease who has vowed to play one final basketball game, has inspired many across the country over the last several weeks. The #1More4Lauren movement has taken off on social media leading up to her game Nov. 2, where she suited up for Mount Saint Joseph's (Ohio) in front of an incredibly supportive crowd at Xavier's Cinta Center.

Chicago's Elena Delle Donne and Indiana's Tamika Catchings, among other WNBA players, attended the game to support Lauren and to raise awareness for DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas).

For more information, visit her website, www.1more4lauren.com/

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WNBA Participates in NBA All-Star Relay

WNBA Participates in NBA All-Star Relay

To highlight the importance of physical activity and promote healthy living for kids and families, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is teaming up with New York Road Runners (NYRR) for the first-ever marathon relay. The NBA All-Star Relay at the TCS New York City Marathon, which will take place on November 2 during the 44th running of the race, was jointly announced today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of NYRR.

"Inspiring young people to enjoy fun, fitness-related activities is a goal shared by the NBA and New York Road Runners," said Silver. "And hosting NBA All-Star in New York City this season gives us an unprecedented opportunity to partner with Mary and NYRR to bring that message directly to all five boroughs. I look forward to participating in the marathon relay and working with NYRR to promote healthy living for all New Yorkers."

"We are thrilled to partner with the NBA on our first-ever marathon day relay," said Wittenberg. "As the centerpiece of NYRR’s efforts is to get people moving, the TCS New York City Marathon inspires people of all ages to Run for Life. With the help of Adam and the NBA family, we now have the opportunity for the race to showcase the importance of physical activity for young people, and the critical role adults play to ensure that kids stay fit."

The NBA All-Star Relay at the TCS New York City Marathon will feature NBA and WNBA personalities teaming up with students from NYRR’s free, year-round youth running programs. Leading up to NBA All-Star 2015 in New York City this February, the NBA is engaged in a season-long effort to reach a half-million youth throughout New York City’s five boroughs through fun, fitness-related basketball activities. NYRR's youth running efforts reach 120,000 students with programs, events, and resources throughout New York City public schools and community partners in the five boroughs.

Twenty-four pairs of runners will participate in the 26.2-mile tour of New York City's five boroughs, beginning at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island, continuing through the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, up through the island of Manhattan, into the Bronx, and finishing in world-famous Central Park.

Commissioner Silver will run the relay’s first leg, up and over the bridge into Brooklyn, and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo will serve as the team’s anchor when the relay comes to a close at the iconic Central Park finish line. The full list of NBA All-Star Relay scheduled participants* follows:

1. Greg Anthony -- NBA TV analyst

2. Tiny Archibald -- Bronx native and NBA legend

3. Mike Breen -- NBA on ABC broadcaster and MSG Network Knicks announcer

4. Amy Brooks -- NBA Executive Vice President, Team Marketing & Business Operations

5. Swin Cash -- Three-time WNBA champion and Liberty forward

6. Jason Collins -- Former Nets center

7. Darryl Dawkins -- Nets legend

8. Bob Delaney -- NBA Vice President, Referee Operations

9. Teresa Edwards -- WNBA legend and Atlanta Dream assistant coach

10. Allan Houston -- Knicks Assistant General Manager

11. Albert King -- Brooklyn native and Nets legend

12. Bernard King -- Brooklyn native and Knicks and Nets legend

13. Felipe Lopez -- NBA Cares Ambassador and former St. John’s University star

14. Chris Mullin -- Former St. John’s University star and Olympic gold medalist

15. Dikembe Mutombo -- NBA Global Ambassador and Knicks and Nets legend

16. Charles Oakley -- Knicks legend

17. Sam Perkins -- Brooklyn native and NBA legend

18. Ruth Riley -- Two-time WNBA champion

19. Adam Silver -- NBA Commissioner

20. Katie Smith -- Two-time WNBA champion

21. Steve Smith -- NBA TV analyst

22. Tad Smith -- Madison Square Garden President and Chief Executive Officer

23. Mark Tatum -- NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer

24. Brett Yormark -- Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center CEO

Participants subject to change

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Results For January 2014

League Announces Rule Changes For 2015

League Announces Rule Changes For 2015

NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 2014 -- The WNBA announced today that its Board of Governors has approved an additional "trigger" for instant replay review as well as five modifications to existing instant replay rules. In addition, the Board approved four other playing rules changes for the upcoming 2015 season.

Expansion of Instant Replay Rules:

-- Officials may utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain a team had an improper number of players on the court while the ball was in play.

Modification of Instant Replay Rules:

-- Instant replay triggers that are currently in effect only during the last minute of regulation and the entire overtime period(s) -- out-of-bounds, restricted area, goaltending/basket-interference, shot clock resets -- instead shall be in effect during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of any overtime period.

-- Officials may now during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of overtime period(s) conduct an instant replay review whenever they are not reasonably certain as to which team should be awarded possession after a ball becomes out of bounds or whether an out of bounds in fact occurred. Officials also may award the ball to the team that last touched the ball if the ball going out of bounds was clearly caused by an obvious foul on the team that did not last touch the ball. Previously, officials could only use replay if they weren't reasonably certain as to which of two players on opposing teams caused the ball to become out of bounds and were limited as to what they could review once the instant replay was triggered.

-- Officials may now utilize instant replay to review the timing of all off-ball fouls (offensive or defensive) that occur near the timing of a successful shot, to determine the actual sequence of events. Prior to this change, officials could only review the timing when an offensive player without the ball was fouled.

-- Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a flagrant foul. Previously, the foul had to be called a flagrant on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.

-- Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a clear-path-to-the-basket foul. Previously, the foul had to be called a clear-path foul on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.

Rules changes:

-- The shot clock will no longer be reset to five seconds when a held ball is caused by the defense with fewer than five seconds remaining on the clock.

-- On any midcourt throw-in, the ball shall be put in play from the sideline one step in the backcourt, allowing the team to pass the ball into either the back or frontcourt. (Under pre-existing rules, the ball could only be passed into the frontcourt).

-- Teams may freely substitute players whenever any timeout is called. Prior to this change, there were limited circumstances in which a team couldn't substitute for certain players at timeouts.

-- If a team has too many players on the court while the ball is in play, (i) the offending team would be assessed a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul and (ii) the non-offending team would continue to have the option of either accepting or nullifying the game action that occurred during the violation and, if the ball is put back into play via a throw-in, would be awarded the ball. Previously, if the offending team had possession, it would keep possession of the ball despite the violation.

Each of these rules was recommended by the WNBA’s Competition Committee at its meeting on Dec. 3.

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Draft Watch: Big Winners

Draft Watch: Big Winners

Things are heating up in the NCAA. This past Monday was a huge double header with big wins from Notre Dame and Stanford. Other big wins this week included Baylor’s overtime win over Oklahoma State and Tennessee’s thumping of Texas AM.

The usual suspects were still up to no good. Chiney Ogwumike had 30 points for Stanford and Odyssey Sims put up 25 points for Baylor's 92-43 win over Texas Tech. Meanwhile, Stefanie Dolson grabbed 13 rebounds for UConn against Temple.

Particularly notable, however, were big performances from Notre Dame's Kayla McBride, Louisville's Shoni Schimmel, and Tennessee's Meighan Simmons.

Kayla McBride (Notre Dame)

Kayla McBride will be a Top 7 WNBA draft pick according to WNBA draft expert and head coach of the New York Liberty Bill Laimbeer. Bill Laimbeer is probably right. Especially if Kayla McBride continues to play the way she did this week. The Notre Dame guard/small forward had 20 points in their win against Maryland and that’s even though she got into foul trouble early on in the game. McBride and the Notre Dame "trio" contributed 80 points to the team’s 87-point win.

"I think McBride played with a lot of confidence," Laimbeer also told the South Bend Tribune "She's playing solid basketball this year. She's taught herself to handle the ball a little bit better than she has in the past. That's a big step up for her for the next level. She gained a lot of confidence playing with USA Basketball. That really helped her out as far as knowing that she can play at a higher level."

McBride is averaging 16 points per game, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

Shoni Schimmel (Louisville)

This week Shoni Schimmel was voted espnW’s Senior of the Week and for a very good reason. Schimmel scored 29 points in the game versus Memphis. Twenty-seven of those points were from beyond the arc. And those 9 three pointers tied the school record for the most 3s in a game.

But that’s not the only trick Schimmel has up her sleeve. ESPN has called her "explosive" and "dynamic" and has said that she "fears no one." Which is likely true if you recall that time she drove right into Britney Griner for an and-1 in a 2012 Baylor-Louisville game before getting up in her face a little bit. How could you forget?

But all that talking has served her well. Schimmel is a vocal leader for the Cards and is averaging 18 points per game, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Other notable seniors:

Meighan Simmons, out of Tennessee had a huge 26 point game against Texas AM. She is averaging 14 points per game, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.

Samarie Walker is averaging 10 points per game, 9 rebounds and 2 assists for Kentucky.

Bria Hartley has 15 points per game, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists for No. 1 UConn.

Updates:

Alyssa Thomas (Maryland) - 18 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 apg

Tricia Liston (Duke) - 17 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg

Jordan Hooper (Nebraska) - 19 ppg, 9 rpg, 1 apg

Stefanie Dolson (UConn) - 12 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 apg

Maggie Lucas (Penn State) - 20 ppg, 3 rpg, 1 apg

Chelsea Douglas (Wake Forest) - 18 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg

Chiney Ogwumike (Standford) - 26 ppg, 12 rpg, 1 apg

Odyssey Sims (Baylor) - 29 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg

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Cappie Checks in from Turkey

Cappie Checks in from Turkey

It’s not easy to keep up with someone like Cappie Pondexter. The Liberty guard is known for her determination to get and be better, on and off the court. When she’s not playing for the Liberty she’s either heading up her own business 4 Seasons Style Management or playing full-time overseas for Turkey’s elite Fenerbahce club in Istanbul alongside the Dream’s Angel McCoughtry.

This is Cappie’s fifth year with the club and she has found the competition getting stronger as more and more Americans have joined the Turkish league. "The competition’s not far off from the WNBA now. Obviously in the WNBA we only have 12 players on a team and all our 12 players are great. Here the completion is probably about half - or a little bit more than half - of what the WNBA has." And we can only assume it will keep getting better.

Fenerbahce, according to Cappie, is one of the best clubs in Turkey. And the statistics agree. This year the team is 15-2 in the Turkish Basketball League and a solid 7-0 in Group B of the Euroleague (the best record in the Euroleauge so far).

Of course it helps to have 2-time WNBA scoring champion Angel McCoughtry on your side.

"Angel, man, she’s funny!" Cappie laughed when I asked what it was like to play with the animated Dream guard. "It’s great though! I think she’s one of the league’s best at her position. She’s super athletic. Sometimes just watching her is amazing."

And while there is a lot to be excited about overseas, Cappie is still pumped for the upcoming Liberty season. "It’s been a long journey," she said of the last three Liberty seasons, "of being in New Jersey and now we’re headed back to the Garden. There’s a lot of excitement behind that and not just from me."

The past season was admittedly a rebuilding season for the Liberty, the franchise has the fourth pick overall in this year’s draft and head coach Bill Laimbeer has made it incredibly clear as to what they are looking for this season: "players."

But if anyone knows exactly what Laimbeer’s talking about now it’s Cappie: "I think our first year was just us trying to learn each other. Now we have a year under our belt and I know the system, what he expects, and I’m looking forward to it. I think we’re gonna have a super year."

And with all these expectations, you better be sure that Cappie Pondexter is working hard to get ready. She’s focusing in Turkey on elevating her shooting percentage for the coming season. Last year she was 36 percent from the field and she plans to get those numbers up.

Come May, Cappie and the New York Liberty will be on top of their game and there's every reason to expect that "super" year.

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EDD, Diggins Back on Court

EDD, Diggins Back on Court

NEW YORK, Jan. 29, 2014 - The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today stars from film and TV will take the court for the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game 2014 on Friday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. ET. Two-time MVP Kevin Hart will play alongside Victoria’s Secret model, actress and philanthropist Erin Heatherton; "America’s Got Talent" host Nick Cannon; ESPN Radio’s "Mike & Mike" hosts Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg; Jesse Williams ("Grey’s Anatomy"); Columbus Short ("Scandal"); Michael B. Jordan ("That Awkward Moment"); U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; three-time NBA Champion and ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen; "E! News" anchor Terrence Jenkins; NBA TV’s "NBA Inside Stuff presented by Samsung Galaxy" co-host Kristen Ledlow; ESPN anchor Stan Verrett; and WNBA stars Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock and Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky. Tickets for the game, airing live on ESPN from Sprint Arena at NBA All-Star Jam Session, will go on sale today Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 11 a.m. ET/ 10 a.m. CT.

ESPN’s "NBA Countdown" hosts Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose will coach this year’s teams. An assistant coach will be selected through Sprint’s Assistant Coach For A Day Sweepstakes. The winning fan will be flown to New Orleans for NBA All-Star 2014 and serve as assistant coach for the West or East.

Tickets for the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game 2014 start at $50 and include admission to NBA All-Star Jam Session on Feb. 14, where fans of all ages will be surrounded by wall-to-wall NBA All-Star basketball action. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in basketball activities; meet celebrities, NBA stars and legends; and collect free autographs. General admission tickets for NBA All-Star Jam Session start at $10. Tickets for both events can be purchased at NBAEVENTS.com, Ticketmaster.com and at the New Orleans Arena Box Office.

For the 10th consecutive year, ESPN will televise the game beginning at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT. Fans can also view the game on Watch ESPN, available on your computer, smart phone, tablet, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Apple TV and Roku. The game rosters are subject to change without notice. Visit NBA.com/allstar2014 for more information.

A $20 TICKET (STANDARD PRICE OF ADMISSION) TO JAM SESSION ON FRIDAY, FEB. 14, DOES NOT INCLUDE ADMISSION TO THE CELEBRITY GAME.

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2014 Draft Watch: Name Games

2014 Draft Watch: Name Games

With the NCAA regular season moving closer and closer to its conclusion in March, the name of the game these days - especially for seniors - is making a name for yourself. Whether that’s finally stepping into the spotlight like Uju Ugoka who came back her senior year for Virginia Tech to average 19 points and 10 rebounds per game, or whether it’s stepping out of the shadow of someone with your same name like Chiney Ogwumike has already proven she can do. But it’s also making sure that no one ever forgets your name. Which they certainly won’t if you’re Odyssey Sims who had another big game against Kansas State.

And of course - if you’re Connecticut - it’s all about trying to hold on to your good name. That is to say, keep beating teams by over 30 points, which they did in their 83-49 win over Memphis.

Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford)

We already knew there was something special about the Ogwumike name thanks to big sis and WNBAer Nneka Ogwumike, but what’s really in a name? Apparently, a lot more than just legacy. As Chiney Ogwumike really continues to make a name for herself, she talked with ESPN about the literal meaning of the name Ogwukmike in Nigerian: "he who does not tire."

Ogwumike dropped 30 points again against Arizona State, which bumps her average up to 27 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Odyssey Sims (Baylor)

Also still living up to her name this week: Odyssey Sims. Her stats continue to be nothing short of epic. Sims is now averaging 31 points per game. This week she helped Baylor sail past Kansas State 71-47 with 20 points. And while 20 points in one game is nowhere close to Odyssey's average, we're starting to see an Odyssey that responds to increased defensive pressure by freeing up her teammates for wide open shots.

Other notable seniors:

Uju Ugoka, who before her senior year only started 10 games, came back this year to start every game for Virginia Tech and is averaging 19 points per game and 10 rebounds.

Tricia Liston of Duke is still stepping up in Chelsea Gray’s absence and averaging 17 points per game and 6 rebounds.

Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech’s 5’9" guard, is averaging 18 points per game and 8 rebounds.

Updates:

Alyssa Thomas (Maryland) - 17 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 apg

Jordan Hooper (Nebraska) - 19 ppg, 10 rpg, 1 apg

Stefanie Dolson (UConn) - 13 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 apg

Maggie Lucas (Penn State) - 20 ppg, 3 rpg, 1 apg

Chelsea Douglas (Wake Forest) - 18 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg

Kayla McBride (Notre Dame) - 16 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg

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Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014 Set for Phoenix

Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014 Set for Phoenix

NEW YORK and PHOENIX, Jan. 22, 2014 -Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014 will take place at US Airways Center in Phoenix, on Saturday, July 19, and will be nationally televised on ESPN, with tip-off at 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30pm PT), WNBA President Laurel J. Richie announced today.

In addition, Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014 will be televised globally in more than 200 countries and territories.

This marks the second consecutive year that Boost Mobile, which became the WNBA's first league-wide marquee partner in 2011, will serve as the title partner of the All-Star Game. It’s also the second time the All-Star Game will be played in Phoenix. In July 2000, US Airways Center (formerly America West Arena) hosted the WNBA's mid-season showcase event.

"We're thrilled to again partner with Boost Mobile and bring the WNBA All-Star Game back to Phoenix," said Richie. "There has been significant demand for the All-Star Game to be held in the West, and we cannot think of better hosts than the Phoenix Mercury organization and US Airways Center. We look forward to an incredibly memorable All-Star weekend and to showcasing the extraordinary talent of the WNBA in front of the great fans of Phoenix as well as a national television audience."

"As an organization and a facility, we want to provide the best sports and entertainment experience to our fans, and we are committed to bringing the best events to US Airways Center," said Jason Rowley, Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury President. "Hosting the Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game 2014 will do both of those things, and it will give our great players and the league's great players the opportunity to play in front of the best fans in the WNBA."

The 2000 WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix saw the Western Conference defeat the Eastern Conference, 73-61, in front of capacity crowd of 17,717 fans. The West, led by a quartet of frontcourt stars - center Lisa Leslie and forwards Tina Thompson, DeLisha Milton, and Yolanda Griffith - helped the West dominate in the paint both in terms of scoring (46-28) and rebounding (60-40). Thompson earned Most Valuable Player honors after posting a game-high 11 rebounds and adding 13 points. Leslie led all scorers with 16 points while Milton added 10 and Griffith contributed a double-double off the bench (10 points and 10 rebounds). Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Tari Phillips led the East with 10 points apiece.

"The only thing that could top playing in All-Star games in front of the great fans in Connecticut, who have always treated me so well, would be the opportunity to play in front of my home fans, the X-Factor, in Phoenix this summer," said Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury Guard. "Hosting the WNBA All-Star Game is an honor and a reward that our fans and organization have earned. I can’t wait."

Mercury season ticket holders - exclusive X-Factor Members - have the first opportunity to secure their seats at the best price for Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014, reserved now through Feb. 7, by contacting their account experience specialist. Boost Mobile All-Star tickets are available now to the general public through the purchase of a 2014 Mercury season ticket package or a Mercury All-Star Pack that includes four can’t-miss regular season matchups and the July 19th Boost Mobile All-Star Game at US Airways Center. Log on to PhoenixMercury.com/allstar for more information or call 602.252.WNBA today.

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Draft Watch: Upsets

Draft Watch: Upsets

This week in women s college ball we saw two major upsets go down - Vanderbilt (No. 24) took down (then) No. 8 Tennessee and No. 25 Texas AandM pulled off an overtime win vs. (current) No. 8 South Carolina.

Meanwhile Duke broke out a stellar performance from Tricia Liston who had 21 points and tied her career-high with 12 rebounds. Duke still managed a blowout over Virginia (90-55) despite Chelsea Gray s first absence due to her season ending knee injury.

Also announced this week, USA Basketball posted the national team pool which includes Alyssa Thomas, Odyssey Sims, Kayla McBride and Stefanie Dolson. Alyssa Thomas (Maryland)

Maryland continues to slowly, steadily, and almost stealthily take down opponents, suffering their only loss to Connecticut earlier in the season. Alyssa Thomas is still putting up an average of 17 points per game and bringing down around 11 rebounds. This past week, Maryland put up a solid 77-62 win over Syracuse and

Thomas had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Thomas seems to be emerging as the league s most consistent all-around player. She doesn t quite have the flash of a player like Odyssey Sims or bring home half the praise of a player like Chiney Ogwumike, but Alyssa Thomas knows how to win basketball games.

I should also mention that Alyssa Thomas has put up two triple doubles so far this season.

Jordan Hooper (Nebraska)

Breaking out and onto the radar as another all-around player these past few weeks is no. 18 Nebraska s 6 2 forward with solid stats (20 points per game, 10 rebounds) and a killer last name to boot.

Hooper became the 4th player for Nebraska ever to reach the career mark of 2,000 points in Thursday night s OT win over Minnesota. Not only that, but Hooper has also racked up 1,000 rebounds as well. And, on top of that, she s No. 2 at Nebraska in career 3-pointers, looking at just shy of 50 more to break the current record.

Other notable seniors:

Christina Foggie, who helped lead Vandy past Tennessee this week, is averaging 18 points per game and 4 rebounds.

Tricia Liston, who stepped up for Duke in the wake of Chelsea Gray s injury, is averaging 16 points per game and 5 rebounds.

Karla Gilbert, who led Texas AandM to an overtime victory vs. South Carolina, is averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds.

Updates as of 1/14/2014:

Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) - 27 ppg, 11 rpg, 2 apg

Odyssey Sims (Baylor) - 31 ppg, 4rpg, 4 apg

Chelsea Gray (Duke) - Season ending knee injury

Stefanie Dolson (UConn) - 13 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 apg

Maggie Lucas (Penn State) - 21 ppg, 3 rpg, 1 apg

Chelsea Douglas (Wake Forest) - 18 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg

Kayla McBride (Notre Dame) - 16 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg

Previous Draft Watches:

Draft Watch: Sister, Sister

Draft Watch: Opposites Attack

Draft Watch: The Odyssey

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WNBA Stars Dominate US Women Pool

WNBA Stars Dominate US Women Pool

USA Basketball has announced the pool of women's players who will represent the USA in internal competition for 2014 2016, and what a pool it is. The list includes veteran WNBA and USA Basketball players like Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, and Sue Bird, WNBA sophomores and USAB newcomers such as Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, and Brittney Griner, and 6 college players. USA Basketball will use this pool of talent to select a national team to compete at the FIBA 3x3 World Championship in Moscow June 5 7, 2014 , the FIBA World Championship in Istanbul, Turkey Sept. 27 Oct. 5, 2014, the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto July 10 26, 2015, and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil August 5 21, 2016.

Since women's basketball became an Olympic event in 1976, the United States has won 7 gold medals including an unprecedented five straight team Olympic gold medals, culminating with the legendary 2012 London Olympic squad. In 1976 the USA lost to the former Soviet Union and in 2006 they lost to Russia in the semi finals settling for bronze. The United States has also won a total of 8 FIBA World Championships since the tournament's beginning in 1953 and are the current defending champs after defeating the Czech Republic 89 69 in 2010.

The full list of players selected for the pool is below.

2014 16 USA Women's Basketball Pool

DIANA TAURASI

INTERNATIONAL 3 time Olympic gold medalist 2004, 2008, 2012 , FIBA World Champion 2010 , FIBA Bronze Medalist 2006

WNBA WNBA Rookie of the Year 2004 , 5 time WNBA All Star 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 , 2 time WNBA Champion 2007, 2009 , 5 time WNBA scoring champion 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 , WNBA Most Valuable Player 2009 , WNBA Finals MVP 2009

TAMIKA CATCHINGS

INTERNATIONAL 3 time Olympic gold medalist 2004, 2008, 2012 , 2 time FIBA World Champion 2010, 2002 , FIBA Bronze Medalist 2006 WNBA

7 time WNBA All Star 2002, 2003, 2005 through 2007, 2009, 2011 , 5 time Defensive Player of the Year 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 , Rookie of the Year 2002 , 2 time Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award 2010, 2013 , WNBA Most Valuable Player 2011 , WNBA Champion 2012 , WNBA Finals MVP 2012

SUE BIRD

INTERNATIONAL 3 time Olympic gold medalist 2004, 2008, 2012 , 2 time FIBA World Champion 2010, 2002 , FIBA Bronze Medalist 2006 , Jones Cup Gold Medalist 2000

WNBA WNBA All Decade Team, 7 time WNBA All Star 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 , 2 time WNBA Champion 2004, 2010

SEIMONE AUGUSTUS

INTERNATIONAL 2 time Olympic gold medalist 2008, 2012 , FIBA Bronze Medalist 2006

WNBA WNBA Rookie of the Year 2006 , 4 time WNBA All Star 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013 , 2 time WNBA Champion 2011, 2013 , WNBA Finals MVP 2011

CANDACE PARKER

INTERNATIONAL 2 time Olympic gold medalist 2008, 2012

WNBA WNBA Rookie of the Year 2008 , WNBA MVP 2008, 2013 , 2 time WNBA All Star 2011, 2013 , WNBA All Star MVP 2013 , 2 time WNBA rebounding champion 2008, 2009

MAYA MOORE

INTERNATIONAL Olympic gold medalist 2012 , FIBA Gold Medalist 2010

WNBA 2 time WNBA Champion 2011, 2013 , 2 time WNBA All Star 2011, 2013 , WNBA Rookie of the Year 2011 , WNBA Finals MVP 2013

TINA CHARLES

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Gold Medalist 2012 , FIBA World Champion 2010

WNBA WNBA Rookie of the Year 2010 , WNBA All Star 2011 , WNBA Most Valuable Player 2012 , 3 time WNBA rebounding champion 2010, 2011, 2012

ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Gold Medalist 2012 , Pan American Games Gold Medalist 2007

WNBA WNBA Rookie of the Year 2009 , WNBA All Star 2011 , 2 time WNBA scoring champion 2012, 2013

LINDSAY WHALEN

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Gold Medalist 2012 , FIBA World Champion 2010

WNBA 4 time WNBA All Star 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 , 3 time WNBA Peak Performer Assists 2008, 2011, 2012 , 2 time WNBA Champion 2011, 2013

CAPPIE PONDEXTER

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Gold Medalist 2008

WNBA 4 time WNBA All Star 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 , 2 time WNBA Champion 2007, 2009 , WNBA Finals MVP 2007

KARA LAWSON

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Gold Medalist 2008

WNBA WNBA All Star 2007 , WNBA Champion 2005

SYLVIA FOWLES

INTERNATIONAL 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist 2008, 2012 , FIBA World Champion 2010

WNBA 3 time WNBA All Star 2009, 2011, 2013 , 2 time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year 2011, 2013 , 2 time WNBA blocks leader 2010, 2011 , WNBA rebounds leader 2013

JAYNE APPEL

INTERNATIONAL FIBA World Champion 2010 , Pan American Games Gold Medalist 2007 WNBA

2010 first round draft pick for the San Antonio Stars

CANDICE DUPREE

INTERNATIONAL FIBA World Champion 2010

WNBA 3 time WNBA All Star

DEWANNA BONNER

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA 3 time Sixth Woman of the Year

ELENA DELLE DONNE

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA WNBA Rookie of the Year 2013 , WNBA All Star 2013

SKYLAR DIGGINS

INTERNATIONAL 3x3 World Champion 2012

WNBA Third overall 2013 draft pick for the Tulsa Shock

BRITTNEY GRINER

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA WNBA All Star 2013

LINDSEY HARDING

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA First overall 2007 draft pick

BRIANN JANUARY

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA Sixth overall 2009 draft pick for the Indiana Fever

GLORY JOHNSON

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA First round 2012 draft pick for the Tulsa Shock

JANTEL LAVENDER

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA Fifth overall 2011 draft pick for the Los Angeles Sparks

NNEKA OGWUMIKE

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA WNBA Rookie of the Year 2012

DANIELLE ROBINSON

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA WNBA All Star 2013 , WNBA Peak Performer Assists 2013

COURTNEY VANDERSLOOT

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA WNBA All Star 2011

MONICA WRIGHT

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA 2 time WNBA Champion 2011, 2013

SOPHIA YOUNG

INTERNATIONAL International Rookie

WNBA 3 time WNBA All Star

Also included in the pool Stefanie Dolson University of Connecticut , Kayla McBride University of Notre Dame , Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis University of Connecticut , Odyssey Sims Baylor University , Breanna Stewart University of Connecticut , Alyssa Thomas University of Maryland

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San Antonio Stars Reveal New Logos and Wordmark

San Antonio Stars Reveal New Logos and Wordmark

SAN ANTONIO Jan. 14, 2014 - Spurs Sports and Entertainment unveiled today an updated look for its WNBA franchise that will be reflected in the 2014 season. Changes include new logos for the San Antonio Stars, which were previously known as the Silver Stars. Additionally, San Antonio-based retailer H-E-B has signed on as the first-ever marquee sponsor for the Stars and will have the iconic H-E-B logo prominently displayed on the front of their jerseys. The updated logos and jerseys were unveiled today at a press conference held at the AT T Center.

The Stars new primary logo utilizes the familiar silver, black and white color palate and features the San Antonio Stars wordmark above a shooting star. The secondary logo contains a stylized S above the shooting star. Fans can check out the new designs and get the latest news on the Stars at SAStars.com, as well as via the team’s social media channels on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

"The new look for the Stars provides an updated design that more closely aligns with the brand and feel of our entire Spurs family of teams," said Rick Pych, Spurs Sports and Entertainment President of Business Operations. "We have been very fortunate to have H-E-B as our business and community partner for well over 20 years and they are the perfect fit to be the first-ever marquee sponsor for the Stars."

Last year, H-E-B and SS and E announced a five-year renewal as corporate and community partners. H-E-B is the presenting sponsor of the Spurs 2013-14 season and will be the presenting sponsor for the Stars 2014 season. H-E-B also has a presence with the San Antonio Rampage AHL and Austin Toros NBA Development League.

"We’re elated to expand on our collaboration with Spurs Sports and Entertainment as the first-ever marquee sponsor for the Stars, " said Cory Basso, H-E-B Group Vice President of Marketing and Advertising. "The WNBA is the premier women’s sports league in the world and we want to continue to support women’s sports and make a positive impact in our community."

The 2014 campaign will mark the Stars’ 12th season in San Antonio. The team relocated from Utah in 2003 and was then known as the Utah Starzz, one of eight original WNBA franchises.

"Strong brands continue to be attracted to the WNBA, not only for its elite athletes, outstanding entertainment and high level of play, but also for its authentic connection to their communities," said WNBA President Laurel Richie. "Today's announcement marks a milestone in the long standing partnership between H-E-B and the Stars, and we look forward to the great things these two iconic Texas brands will do together in 2014 and beyond."

In celebration of the H-E-B partnership, Stars players Becky Hammon and Danielle Robinson will make an appearance today at the H-E-B plus! on Bandera Rd and 1604 for an appreciation event for Stars fans and H-E-B customers. Featuring free food, games and prizes, the fan appreciation event will be held from 4-6 p.m. and is open to the public.

Spurs Sports and Entertainment is the premier provider of sports and entertainment in South Texas. SS E owns and operates the San Antonio Spurs NBA, San Antonio Rampage AHL, San Antonio Stars WNBA and Austin Toros NBA Development League and also manages the day-to-day operations of the AT T Center.

The San Antonio Stars are one of four professional sports franchises owned and operated by Spurs Sports and Entertainment - the San Antonio Spurs NBA, the Rampage AHL and the Austin Toros NBA Development League - and play their home games at the SS E operated AT T Center. The 2014 season will mark the teams 12th year in San Antonio, as the Utah Starzz relocated to the Alamo City in 2003. In operation since 1997, the WNBA - which features 12 teams - is the most successful women's professional team sports league in the world.

H-E-B, with sales of more than 19.4 billion dollars, operates more than 350 stores in Texas and Mexico. Known for its innovation and community service, H-E-B celebrated its 105th anniversary in 2010. Recognized for its fresh food, quality products, convenient services, and a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, H-E-B strives to provide the best customer experience at everyday low prices. Based in San Antonio, H-E-B employs more than 80,000 Partners and serves millions of customers in more than 150 communities. For more information, visit www.heb.com.

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Draft Watch: The Odyssey

Draft Watch: The Odyssey

Last week, the NCAA finally entered conference play and we saw movement in the rankings. Among them, No. 7 Baylor, formerly No. 9, won their first two conference games over Kansas and Kansas State while No. 14 Baylor bought down Iowa and moved up from the No. 15 spot. Those wins can largely be attributed to the performances of Odyssey Sims for Baylor and Maggie Lucas with Penn State. Sims put up 30 points breaking the Baylor record for career 3 pointers in the process against Kansas and that was after her 40 point performance against Kansas State the game before. Meanwhile, Maggie Lucas scored 27 points against No. 22 Iowa, drilling 5 3 pointers.

Odyssey Sims, Baylor

After her 70 point conference start, Odyssey was named espnW's Senior of the Week. She is the first player to win the weekly honor twice. Sims is now averaging 30 points per game plus a solid four assists and four rebounds. When we first highlighted Odyssey on Draft Watch, Baylor was only eight games into the season and Sims was averaging 30 points per game. Today, Baylor is 12 and 1 and she has shown no signs of slowing down.

According to ESPN, "Sims is averaging nearly one-third of Baylor's points this season, has taken 27 percent of the Lady Bears' shots from the floor and 30 percent of their free throw attempts." Which speaks more than volumes for her role on one of the league's strongest teams.

Sims and the Lady Bears take on No. 1 Connecticut on January 13.

Maggie Lucas, Penn State

Maggie Lucas's nickname is Machine Gun Maggie. That's almost all I need to say about Maggie Lucas except that maybe you should watch this video. The 5 10 shooting guard was the Big Ten player of the year last season and is this season averaging 21 points per game, which puts her at No. 11 on the list of top senior scorers in in women's college basketball this year. Last month she scored her 2000th career point at Penn State.

Lucas is also known for being the face and energy of Penn State. You can read her blog posts over at espnW.

Other notable seniors:

No. 2 Notre Dame's Natalie Achonwa, who carried the Irish past Clemson in the ACC opener, is averaging 13 points per game and 8 rebounds.

Christina Foggie of Vanderbuilt is averaging 18 points per game, grabbing 4 rebounds and handing out 4 assists. Vanderbuilt is 12 3 this season.

Asya Bussie is averaging 14 points per game and 7 rebounds for West Virginia which 13 and 1

Updates as of 1.7.2012

Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford, 26 ppg, 11 rpg, 1 apg

Chelsea Gray Duke, 11 ppg, 4 rpg, 7 apg

Stefanie Dolson UConn, 14 ppg, 10, rpg, 3 apg

Alyssa Thomas Maryland, 17 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 apg

Chelsea Douglas Wake Forest, 20 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg

Katherine Plouffe, Marquette, 19 ppg, 11 rpg, 2 apg

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Results For February 2014

Draft Watch: Grand Marshall

Draft Watch: Grand Marshall

It's off to the races for the rest of the women's college basketball season as records are starting to reflect who will be seeded where for the big tournament (and who won't be there at all). Georgia Tech was one of the teams that could have missed the NCAA tournament boat, but thanks to a season-changing performance from senior Tyaunna Marshall, the team is still in contention for a spot.

There's also much chatter about who will take the number one seed (besides Connecticut and Duke). There are 4 weeks left to play before the seeds are sewn. Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo discuss:

Tyaunna Marshall (Georgia Tech)

Tyaunna Marshall is a newcomer to espnW’s player of the week spotlight, but that doesn’t mean her season has gone unnoticed. The Georgia Tech senior is averaging a solid 20 points per game with 7 rebounds and 3 assists to boot. Although the odds didn't look too great for Georgia Tech going into two weeks ago, Marshall kept up her efforts throughout. But what could have been a dismal outlook for Georgia Tech for the second year in a row started to look a little brighter when Marshall, now Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer, lit up the court to put away No. 11 North Carolina.

Marshall put up 32 points, grabbed 8 rebounds with 5 assists and 3 steals. The Yellow Jackets took down the Tar Heels 94-91. To top it all off, the last two points of the incredibly close game were two free throws from Marshall with 4.2 seconds left to go. They officially sealed North Carolina's fate and Marshall's place in Georgia Tech history, bumping her up to the all-time leading scored for the Yellow Jackets.

Marshall was also recently named one of the 30 contenders for the Naismith Women’s College Player of The Year award.

Bria Hartley (UConn)

UConn is unsurprisingly still going strong at this point in the season. The Huskies are still putting teams to shame with huge wins by large margins. This past week they breezed by unranked South Florida with a 63-38 W. The spotlight fell on Bria Hartley, though, who had 18 points to lead the Huskies. Followed by another star senior Stefanie Dolson who put up 15. Hartley is now averaging 15 points per game.

Other notable seniors:

Kendra Suttles led Oklahoma State to a 73-57 win over Oklahoma with 13 points.

Tricia Liston and Duke rolled past Alyssa Thomas's Maryland 84-63.

This week Odyssey Sims threw down yet another 30 plus point game with 34 points to fend off Texas.

Updates:

Alyssa Thomas (Maryland) - 18 ppg, 10 rpg, 3 apg

Jordan Hooper (Nebraska) - 19 ppg, 9 rpg, 1 apg

Stefanie Dolson (UConn) - 12 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 apg

Maggie Lucas (Penn State) - 21 ppg, 4 rpg, 1 apg

Chelsea Douglas (Wake Forest) - 18 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg

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Hammon Pops in on Spurs

Hammon Pops in on Spurs

It’s hard for anyone - even the most optimistic among us - to find a silver lining to a season-ending injury like Becky Hammon’s torn ACL last year. But while Hammon herself admits that it was tough to watch from the sidelines last season (and watch from afar this offseason) her injured knee was "actually a big blessing in disguise." In fact, the Stars’ star guard said that when she wasn’t rehabbing her knee or working on her strength, she was sitting in on practice with the San Antonio Spurs, learning from none other than Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

"It’s actually been a very, very good situation for me," she told WNBA.com at the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. "I’m just kind of a fly on the wall. I listen in on the Spurs’ film sessions and go to their practices and just kind of see how Coach Popovich runs things. It’s just really interesting to me to see how he interacts and how he coaches the team."

Coach Popovich doesn’t have the warmest of coaching styles. In fact, he is known for his brief and often rather terse halftime interviews as well as his straight-to-business "motivational" strategies. His fierce knowledge of the game shows as does his sometimes frustrating (or "boring") rudimentary approach to the game. He’s all drive and no flash. Gregg Popovich is the Honda Civic of basketball coaches.

"They obviously have a couple championships," says Hammon on the matter. "To me, the Spurs just play the game the way it’s supposed to be played with the movement and the cutting and stuff like that. So to me, I really love watching them play. Some people think they’re boring, I think that some of the cutting and the passing that they do is exceptional. And they win," she added, "so you can’t argue with that."

And from an insider’s perspective, it seems that not much is different. Hammon says it’s no surprise, really, that what you see is what you get with Popovich.

"Obviously there are things that go on behind the scenes in the huddle and stuff that the general person wouldn’t get to see," she let on. "At that point I feel like a lot of times Pop’s prepared them - they’re very well prepared, they know what’s gonna happen, and they know their system and they know what they’re supposed to do so. Then it’s just a matter of getting them to do it perfectly as a coach. So it’s not reinventing the wheel or anything, it’s basketball."

Hammon and the Stars seems to share Coach Pop’s general "it’s not rocket science" attitude, which serves the team well. And that’s not the only shared quality between the two franchises. "We run a lot of the same stuff," Hammon said. "Coach Hughes is right there watching a lot of the Spurs games." (In fact, in a previous setting Coach Hughes had told me that he worked closely with Popovich and considered him to be one of the smartest coaches in basketball.)

But then of course even Gregg Popovich can’t be successful without healthy players. The Spurs "Big Three" of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have been plagued by on and off injuries in the recent weeks and racked up a few losses in the process.

And so Becky Hammon spent most of her time making sure her body - her knee in particular - was in good enough shape for the vigor required of a professional athlete.

"The first five months it’s just a lot of strength training," Hammon said, "these little muscles that you never think to train and just getting confidence in the knee. I’ve been working on jumping and just trying to get those muscles to bounce back and respond. But now I’ll get back on the court and start getting comfortable in the brace and what that feels like getting hit. You know, you can be cleared to play but it doesn’t really mean that you’re ready to play - that’s two different things."

And that goes for not only Becky Hammon but also the Stars’ Sophia Young, who was out last season with a knee injury as well.

For the Stars that meant a less-than-spectacular season, which ended with 22 losses and just 12 wins - the fourth worst in the league. But there’s a silver lining there as well: the Stars landed the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft.

Plus with Hammon and Young back on track, this season is already looking up.

"I feel really good about the players we have," Hammon said, "the experience they got last year. Bring in the people that were injured, at least if we just stay healthy we’ll have as good a shot as anybody. It’s a tough league, it’s gotten better, it keeps getting better, so now it’s just a matter of getting the pieces to gel as quickly as possible and staying healthy."

And I think Popovich might agree.

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Cash, Bosh, Wilkins Win 2014 Shooting Stars

Cash, Bosh, Wilkins Win 2014 Shooting Stars

Winner - Team East: Chris Bosh (Miami), Dominique Wilkins (Legend) and Swin Cash (Chicago Sky)

Team Bosh wins with 31.4 seconds in Championship Round

Team East's win resulted in a $100,000 donation to the American Heart Association & U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Team East: Chris Bosh (Miami), Dominique Wilkins (Legend) and Swin Cash (Chicago Sky) dropped Team Durant - Kevin Durant (OKC); Karl Malone (Legend); Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock) - in the final round to defend their 2013 title.

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2014 All-Star Celebrity Game

2014 All-Star Celebrity Game

East 60, West 56

MVP: Arne Duncan (Secretary of Education)

NEW ORLEANS - As usual, Duncan and Jordan were the best players on the floor.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and actor Michael B. Jordan led their respective teams at the Sprint Celebrity Game on Friday, with Duncan's East prevailing 60-56. Duncan filled the box score with 20 points (a Celeb Game record), 11 rebounds and six assists - the last of which was a sweet, behind-the-head dish to a cutting Skylar Diggins of the WNBA for a critical bucket down the stretch.

A couple of possessions later, Diggins found musician/actor Romeo Miller on the right wing for a 3-pointer that put the East up for good. The West missed six free throws and several lay ups in the closing moments and simply didn't have the chemistry that the East had with Duncan, Diggins and Miller.

"I'm just happy to get a win," Duncan said afterward. "This was a really competitive game."

Beyond the East's big three, NBA TV's Kristen Ledlow earned some redemption for her Inside the NBA performance (when she lost a free-throw contest to Shaquille O'Neal) by hitting two first-half buckets that helped the East climb out of a 10-point hole.

"I wasn't thinking about anything except scoring a couple of buckets in order to redeem myself after losing to Shaq on national television," she said. "Shaq could not do what I just did. Well, he could at one point. But not anymore and I know that."

Jordan tried his best to lead the West to victory, but was the focus of the East's aggressive defense. He finished with 16, to go along with seven rebounds.

"He's not the best Michael Jordan I've ever seen," Ledlow said. "But he's a pretty solid Michael Jordan."

That wasn't enough for the West, who were undone by Kevin Hart's over-dribbling. Fittingly, Hart was voted as MVP by the fans for his selfish play that helped his opponent pick up the victory, but he smartly and selflessly gave the due to the game's true MVP, Duncan.

Also representing the WNBA, 2012 WNBA Finals MVP Tamika Catchings and 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne who played well but admitted to toning down the competitive drive a little in the spirit of having fun.

"You know that's what it's all about," Catchings told WNBA.com after the game. "Everybody's like 'we need you to take over' and I'm like 'I'm trying not to get hurt, how about that?' But it was fun and it was great to have Skylar and Elena out there."

You can catch Diggins and Delle Donne as well as Swin Cash and Becky Hammon tomorrow in the Shooting Stars contest.

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Defending Champ Minnesota Tips Off WNBA’s 18th Season as League Releases 2014 Game and Telecast Schedules

Defending Champ Minnesota Tips Off WNBA’s 18th Season as League Releases 2014 Game and Telecast Schedules

NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2014 - The defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx tips off the league’s 18th season as part of WNBA Tip-Off 2014 presented by Boost Mobile on Friday, May 16 when 2013 WNBA Finals MVP Maya Moore leads the Lynx into the nation’s capital to face the Washington Mystics at 7 p.m. ET.

WNBA Tip-Off 2014 presented by Boost Mobile will feature 22 games from May 16, through Memorial Day (May 26), culminating with the launch of ESPN2’s season-long coverage of the WNBA. ESPN2 will debut its schedule of WNBA games with a matchup of three of the top four vote-getters in last year’s MVP race - Minnesota’s Moore, who finished second, and the Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles, who finished third and fourth, respectively. The Sky will host the Lynx at Allstate Arena at 3:30 p.m. ET.

The national television schedule includes Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014, with ESPN showcasing the best women’s basketball players in the world on Saturday, July 19. Tip off at US Airways Center in Phoenix, is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

ESPN2, ESPN, ABC, and NBA TV will televise over 80 regular season and postseason contests, showcasing the league’s most talented players and highlighting the top rivalries.

ESPN2 will air 19 games throughout the regular season and cap it off with extensive coverage of the WNBA Playoffs and Finals presented by Boost Mobile. All games will be available in high definition, and telecasts on ESPN2 and ESPN will also be available on WatchESPN. In addition, WNBA LiveAccess provides online and mobile viewing of live and archived WNBA games all season long.

In March, 2013, the WNBA and ESPN announced a six-year extension to their current eight-year deal, extending through 2022 the agreement that allows ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 to televise games. The deal extends the league’s relationship with ESPN, which commenced in 1997, to 26 years.

NBA TV will broadcast more than 40 games throughout the regular season and provide additional post-season coverage. The NBA TV schedule will be announced at a later date.

Other must-watch television match-ups during the 2014 WNBA regular season include:

- Five ESPN2 telecasts featuring former league MVPs going head-to-head - June 3, when Seattle (Lauren Jackson, 2007, 2010) visits Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, 2009); July 6, when Taurasi and Phoenix visit Los Angeles (Candace Parker, 2013), July 15, when Parker and the Sparks visit the Indiana Fever (Tamika Catchings, 2011), July 22, when the Taruasi-led Mercury takes on Jackson and the Storm in Seattle; and July 29, when Parker leads Los Angeles into Phoenix to meet Taurasi and the Mercury.

- The Lynx, Sky, Sparks, and Mercury will each appear on six ESPN2 telecasts. Minnesota is led by past WNBA Finals MVPs Moore and Seimone Augustus, while Chicago’s roster features reigning Rookie of the Year Delle Donne, and Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles. In addition to Parker, the Sparks feature 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year Nneka Ogwumike and 2012 WNBA Most Improved Player Kristi Toliver, while Taurasi teams up in Phoenix with the WNBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick a year ago, Brittney Griner.

- Western Conference rivals Minnesota and Phoenix, which met for the right to advance to the WNBA Finals in both 2011 and 2013, tip off on June 15, at Target Center (ESPN2, 1 p.m. ET).

- The Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever, which battled in the Eastern Conference Finals in two of the past three seasons, continue their rivalry when they meet in Atlanta on July 1 (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET).

- Season-long coverage on ESPN2 will include a total of seven doubleheaders, with six of those airing on Tuesday evenings. The 2014 WNBA regular season runs from Friday, May 16, to Sunday, Aug. 17. A complete listing of the game-by-game schedule is available at http://www.wnba.com/schedules/index.html .The ESPN2/ESPN game telecast schedule follows:

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WNBA Announces Sale of Sparks to Investment Group Led by Magic Johnson and Mark Walter

WNBA Announces Sale of Sparks to Investment Group Led by Magic Johnson and Mark Walter

NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES, Feb. 5, 2014 - The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors have unanimously approved the purchase of the Los Angeles Sparks by an investment group led by Earvin "Magic" Johnson and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mark R. Walter, WNBA President Laurel J. Richie announced today. The investment group includes Dodger co-owners Todd L. Boehly, Robert L. Patton and Stan Kasten. Richie was joined by Johnson at the press event at STAPLES Center.

The franchise will remain in Los Angeles and play at STAPLES Center. The WNBA’s 2014 game and television schedule will also be announced this week.

"We are thrilled to welcome Magic Johnson and Mark Walter to the WNBA," said Richie. "With their proven track record in the business realm, their commitment to the city of Los Angeles through civic engagement, and their passion for the game of basketball, we look forward to partnering with our new owners to usher in a new era for this iconic team. This is a great day for Los Angeles, the Sparks franchise, its players, and of course, the loyal fans who have been so supportive of the team for 17 seasons."

"This is a great day for the city of Los Angeles and the Sparks," said Johnson. "The leaders of this great city came together quickly to keep this franchise right where it belongs - in the city of Angels. Thanks to my sister, Evelyn, playing college basketball, I have a great appreciation of the talented players that represent the WNBA. Our group will now work together to bring our loyal fans another WNBA championship."

"Earvin came to me and said we need to help save the Sparks and keep them in Los Angeles," Walter said. The decision was quite easy for our investment group due to the passion Magic has for this city, these great athletes and our phenomenal fans. This team and its great players should remain a part of the sports fabric of this wonderful city."

One of the league’s original eight teams, Los Angeles won the WNBA championship in 2001 and 2002, and is the last team to have earned titles in consecutive seasons. Los Angeles advanced to the Western Conference Finals in three of the past six seasons, most recently in 2012. A trio of WNBA All-Stars - forward/center Candace Parker, forward Nneka Ogwumike, and guard Kristi Toliver - headline a talented roster. The reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player, Parker also earned the honor during her rookie season in 2008. Ogwumike took home the WNBA Rookie of the Year award in 2012, the same year Toliver earned the WNBA Most Improved Player award.

About Mark Walter: Mr. Walter is Chairman and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is a controlling shareholder of Delaware Life Holdings. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Guggenheim Capital, LLC. Mr. Walter serves as a trustee or director of several organizations including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Security Benefit Corporation and the EquiTrust Life holding company. Mr. Walter grew up in Iowa and received a B.S. from Creighton University and a J.D. from Northwestern University.

About Earvin "Magic" Johnson:

An NBA legend and member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as well as a noted entrepreneur, philanthropist, and motivational speaker, Johnson serves as part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and, most notably, as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE). Following his playing career - during which he amassed a national championship at Michigan State (1979), five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988), and earned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award three times - Johnson began a meteoric rise through the business world. The driving force behind MJE, whose multiple business entities and partnerships provide products and services that focus primarily on ethnically diverse and underserved urban communities through strategic alliances, investments, consulting and endorsements, Johnson and MJE have partnered with or invested in the likes of Sony Retail Entertainment, Starbucks, Founders National Bank, Burger King, Cadbury Schweppes, Aetna, Best Buy, and AON among others. After divesting himself of his interest in Starbucks and the Los Angeles Lakers beginning in 2010, Johnson invested in Vibe Holdings, LLC, becoming Chairman and focusing on Vibe (the multi-cultural media company that houses the Vibe, Uptown, and Soul Train brands), and in 2012 launched the ASPiRE television network and notably joined Guggenheim Baseball Management to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Club. He also serves as Chairman and Founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation, one of the most recognizable philanthropic organizations around the world.

About the WNBA:

The WNBA - which features 12 teams and is the most successful women’s professional team sports league in the world - is a unique global sports property combining competition, sportsmanship, and entertainment value with its status as an icon for social change, achievement, and diversity. The league, which counts Boost Mobile as its leaguewide marquee partner, will tip off its 18th season in May 2014. Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women’s health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education. For more information on the WNBA, log on to www.wnba.com.

Press Contacts:

Dina Skokos, WNBA Communications, 212-407-8840, dskokos@nba.com

Ron Howard, WNBA Communications, 212-407-8641, rhoward@nba.com

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From the Desk of WNBA President Laurel J. Richie

From the Desk of WNBA President Laurel J. Richie

Dear Los Angeles Sparks Fans:

I know that the past few weeks have been full of uncertainty as we looked to find a new ownership group for your beloved Sparks. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your patience and ongoing support.

Today, I have some very good news to share. The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors have unanimously approved the sale of the Los Angeles Sparks to an investment group led by Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Mark Walter, Chairman and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We are thrilled to welcome Magic, Mark and their partners to the WNBA. As owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, this group is no stranger to the L.A. sports community, and Magic is clearly no stranger to L.A. basketball, having spent his entire professional career with the Lakers. We are proud to have them join the WNBA family, and we are equally proud to be joining their family.

The future for the Sparks couldn’t be brighter under the leadership of this new ownership group. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the season to begin.

Thanks again for your patience, and here’s to a terrific 2014.

Laurel J. Richie, WNBA President

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Phoenix Mercury Announces Marquee Partnership with Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort

Phoenix Mercury Announces Marquee Partnership with Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort

PHOENIX - Today, the Phoenix Mercury entered into an exclusive, multi-year marquee partnership with Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort that includes branding on the Mercury’s home and away jerseys. The new agreement also designates Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort as the presenting sponsor of the Phoenix Mercury.

The partnership was announced this morning by Mercury President Jason Rowley, Mercury VP Ann Meyers Drysdale and Casino Arizona’s Senior Director of Marketing Peter Arceo, during a press conference inside the Casino Arizona Pavilion at US Airways Center.

Highlighting the partnership is the appearance of the Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort logo across the front of the Phoenix Mercury home and away jerseys, as well as on the team’s warm-ups. Images of the jerseys are below. With the deal, the Mercury remains one of five WNBA teams with a corporate-branded jersey, after becoming the first team in WNBA history to sign a marquee partnership in 2009.

"The Phoenix Mercury is thrilled to announce our new marquee sponsorship with Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort," said Mercury President, Jason Rowley. "Having served as the presenting partner for the Mercury’s 2007 WNBA Championship run, Casino Arizona has been a loyal supporter of women’s basketball and we are excited to take that collaboration to an unprecedented level."

Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort’s logo will also be featured on the Phoenix Mercury’s home court at US Airways Center, and incorporated into the team’s official logo. Images of the court and logo are attached. The new co-branded logo will appear on Mercury tickets and other collateral.

"The partnership between Casino Arizona and the Phoenix Mercury is truly an obvious fit," said Peter Arceo, Senior Director of Marketing for Casino Arizona. "We both provide the ultimate entertainment in our respective fields. We are proud to be a part of all the excitement the Mercury will bring this season and beyond."

In addition to marquee placement on player jerseys and on-court logo recognition, Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort will receive brand exposure on the team’s website, in-arena signage and throughout various in-game promotions. During each Friday and Saturday home game, one lucky Mercury fan will compete in the Casino Arizona Lucky 7’s Shootout for the opportunity to win up to $77,777.

IT’S OFFICIAL! The Phoenix Mercury will host the 2014 WNBA All-Star games on July 19, 2014 at US Airways Center. Secure your tickets today. Log on to PhoenixMercury.com/allstar for more information or call 602.252.WNBA.

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Results For March 2014

2014 WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun

2014 WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun

NEW YORK, Mar. 28, 2014 - WNBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm will be held on Monday, April 14, at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. ESPN2 will provide coverage and analysis of the first round beginning at 8 p.m. ET and ESPNU will air the second and third rounds beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

"WNBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm will be a significant milestone in the life of these talented young players," said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. "Through ESPN2’s in-depth coverage, our fans will have the opportunity to see these players as they embark on their professional careers and make their mark on the WNBA."

"ESPN is pleased to present the WNBA Draft in primetime for the second straight year," said Doug White, ESPN senior director, programming and acquisitions. "The 2014 draft class will be an impressive addition to an already strong league. We look forward to showcasing them on our 2014 television schedule."

The Sun holds the top pick in the draft for the second time in franchise history after garnering the top selection in this year’s WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm, which aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter in December. Rounding out this year’s top five picks are the Tulsa Shock (second), San Antonio Stars (third), New York Liberty (fourth), and Indiana Fever (fifth).

"We are delighted to be the host for such a significant event for women’s basketball," said Connecticut Sun CEO Mitchell Etess. "This will be an outstanding opportunity for our fans to see the draft in person, welcome the Connecticut Sun’s Number one pick, and see the next phase in the career of some of their favorite collegiate players."

Last year, the excitement generated by the "3 to See" - Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins - made the 2013 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm one of the most followed drafts in league history. Delle Donne, selected No. 2 overall by the Chicago Sky, went on to earn the WNBA Rookie of the Year award and became the first rookie in the history of the WNBA to lead all vote-getters for the All-Star Game presented by Boost Mobile. Griner, taken by the Phoenix Mercury with the top pick, and Diggins, selected third overall by the Tulsa Shock, each went on to earn a place on the 2013 WNBA All-Rookie Team.

This year’s telecast will also be available on computers, smartphones, tablets, Xbox, Apple TV and Roku via WatchESPN to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. is the home of the Connecticut Sun and has hosted the WNBA All-Star Game three times (2005, 2009, and 2013).

WNBA.com, in addition to providing comprehensive draft-day coverage, will serve as the web destination for fans who want to track the top seniors in advance of the draft.

About State Farm:

State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 44 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.

About the WNBA

The WNBA - which features 12 teams and is the most successful women’s professional team sports league in the world - is a unique global sports property combining competition, sportsmanship, and entertainment value with its status as an icon for social change, achievement, and diversity. The league, which counts Boost Mobile as its league-wide marquee partner, will tip off its 18th season in May 2014. Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women’s health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education. For more information on the WNBA, log on to www.wnba.com.

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McCarville Re-Signs With Lynx

McCarville Re-Signs With Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx got their storybook ending last season when they beat the Atlanta Dream in three games top clinch the 2013 WNBA title. For Janel McCarville, however - who was a clutch player for the lynx in the finals - the storybook ending led to the beginning of uncertainty and free agency.

Thankfully that story now also has a happy ending - one where McCarville gets to stay with the Lynx to help defend their 2013 title. The team has announced that they have resigned the center to a new multi-year contract.

"It's like something out of a fairytale movie," McCarville said in a media conference after the announcement."Who would've thought I could be thrust into the situation I was in in a matter of months. This just fell right into place and hopefully we can keep that momentum going."

It's no secret that Minnesota has always been the end goal for McCarville, who is a Wisconsin native and a University of Minnesota alum. "I made it pretty clear I wanted to play in Minneapolis with the Lynx and finish my career here if possible," she said to that regard. But it's also no secret that McCarville's return to the league was a little rusty after a two-season hiatus after her tenure with the New York Liberty.

The Lynx acquired McCarville as part of a three-team trade in order to fill a void left by Taj McWilliams-Franklin's retirement. The move also allowed for McCarville to reunite with her former University of Minnesota teammate, starting Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen. And despite initial rust, McCarville (whose career is one of many comebacks) successfully gelled with the team, averaging 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game (2nd best for centers in the league).

McCarville really stepped up for the Lynx in the finals where she averaged 9.3 points per game and shot 61 percent from the field. Not to mention 3.7 assists (including the between the legs pass to Rebekkah Brunson embedded above). It's safe to say that with her finals performance in consideration, Minnesota would have been hard pressed not to re-sign her.

"I'm thrilled Janel has decided to remain a Lynx," head coach Cheryl Reeve told lynxbasketball.com. "Her personality and her on-court talent are a perfect match for our team. To have players that teammates love to play with and players that coaches love to coach has been the trademark of our successful teams and Janel embodies this."

In turn, McCarville said that the deal was "comforting... It shows me that they want me, that they have faith in me, and I'm gonna go out there and thank them in my own way."

Comfort, however, should not be mistaken for complacency. McCarville has a game plan for next season and unsurprisingly it centers on getting the ball to her teammates in scoring positions.

"Along with conditioning and consistently trying to get on the boards," she said when asked what she'd be working on for next season, "I want to be opening up the court more than ever for Whalen to get in there and for Maya to get in there."

Can't argue with a strategy that works.

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2014 Free Agent List

2014 Free Agent List

The following is a list of Core Players, Reserved Players, Restricted Free Agents and Unrestricted Free Agents that were on team rosters at the end of the 2013 season.

Teams can begin to negotiate with their own Core and Reserved Players and any Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents on March 16. Deals may not be finalized, and Contracts and Offer Sheets may not be signed, until March 20.

Players who ended the 2013 season on the Suspended List remain suspended and can negotiate only with their prior team.

CORE PLAYERS

Swin Cash (CHI) Erika DeSouza (ATL)

RESERVED PLAYERS

Abby Bishop (SEA) Alysha Clark (SEA) Courtney Clements (ATL) Briana Gilbreath (PHX) Jasmine Hassell (IND) Jasmine James (PHX) Ha Eun Joo (LAS) Lynetta Kizer (IND) Ewelina Kobryn (SEA) Emmeline Ndongue (LAS) Jenna O’Hea (LAS) Chelsea Poppens (SAN) Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (WAS) Krystal Thomas (PHX) Joselyn Tinkle (SEA) Avery Warley (CHI)

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

Jayne Appel (SAN) Tina Charles (CON) Marissa Coleman (LAS) Kalana Greene (CON) Kelsey Griffin (CON) Allison Hightower (CON) Quanitra Hollingsworth (WAS) Erlana Larkins (IND) Courtney Paris (TUL) Allie Quigley (CHI) Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (WAS) Monica Wright (MIN)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

Mistie Bass Agnieszka Bibrzycka Michelle Campbell Sydney Carter Iziane Castro Marques Jessica Davenport Katie Douglas Kristen Haynie Armintie Herrington Ebony Hoffman Alexis Hornbuckle Chelsea Hopkins Catherine Kraayveld Edwige Lawson-Wade Camille Little Janel McCarville (Signed with Minnesota, March 20) Shay Murphy Deanna Nolan Ruth Riley Ashley Robinson Katie Smith Michelle Snow Tina Thompson Jana Vesela Tan White Candice Wiggins

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WNBA, Players Sign New CBA

WNBA, Players Sign New CBA

NEW YORK, March 7, 2014 - The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) announced today that they have entered into a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement, commencing with the 2014 season and continuing through 2021.

"I am pleased to announce that we have concluded the collective bargaining process and have reached an agreement with the WNBPA that provides the league with a long-term foundation for growth while also guaranteeing increases in player salaries and benefits," said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. "This agreement caps a successful 2013 season both on and off the court, and we are now focused on delivering the best basketball in the world."

The new collective bargaining agreement includes an additional 12th roster spot, salary cap increases and reduced revenue sharing thresholds, making it more likely that the players will share in league revenue growth.

"We are pleased that we have a completed collective bargaining agreement in place and that 2014 free agency negotiations and signings can begin. Although the additional roster spot was the players’ primary goal, we expect all of the league’s constituencies to benefit from the teams’ ability to sign a 12th player," said WNBPA Director of Operations Pamela Wheeler. "Throughout these negotiations, as always, the players demonstrated a strong commitment to the growth and success of the league."

The following are additional points agreed to by the WNBA and the Players Association in their new collective bargaining agreement:

- A new "Time Off Bonus" of up to 50,000 dollars that players can earn for limiting their overseas play to three months or less during the offseason.

-The number of times that a player can be subject to a "core" designation has been lowered from 5 to 4, shortening the path to unrestricted free agency for star players. (Each team can designate one of its players as a core player and receive exclusive negotiating rights to that player in exchange for an offer of a one-year, fully-guaranteed maximum salary contract.)

-The term of the agreement is eight years with both the WNBA and the WNBPA having the ability to opt out after the sixth season.

"As players, we are certainly pleased to conclude our business with the owners. We can now focus on the upcoming season and build on the momentum from last year. We are committed to promoting the growth of the WNBA and helping this league get to the next level," said WNBPA President Tamika Catchings. "Over the past eight months the players on our Negotiating Committee have put in tremendous time, effort and thought into these negotiations and we hope that every player in the league will be the beneficiary of those efforts."

The collective bargaining announcement follows a successful 2013 season in which the league experienced double-digit growth in television viewership, increase in attendance and soaring traffic on WNBA.com. In addition, the 2013 campaign introduced a new brand identity and was highlighted by a new six-year television agreement with ESPN, extending the league's relationship with the network through 2022.

About the WNBA

The WNBA - which features 12 teams and is the most successful women’s professional team sports league in the world - is a unique global sports property combining competition, sportsmanship, and entertainment value with its status as an icon for social change, achievement, and diversity. The league, which counts Boost Mobile as its leaguewide marquee partner, will tip off its 18th season on May 16, 2014.

Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women’s health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education. For more information on the WNBA, log on to www.wnba.com.

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Draft Watch: Totally Bias

Draft Watch: Totally Bias

It's almost March now and there are fewer and fewer surprises to speak of when it comes to college basketball. Teams have (for the most part) already showed us their true colors and, in turn, so have those teams' star players. Of course we all know, though, that anything could happen. Especially as we get closer and closer to the NCAA tournament where tension runs high and so do the stakes.

Perhaps feeling a little bit of that pressure this week, No. 8 Penn State fell to No. 16 Nebraska 94-74. Everything else went mostly as planned with Notre Dame, Baylor and Stanford putting away Duke, Oklahoma and UCLA respectively. Also unsurprising by now, Norte Dame's Kayla McBride dropped a career-high 31 points, Odyssey Sims scored 38 points for Baylor, and Chiney Ogwumike put up 26 points and grabbed a stunning 15 rebounds to lead Stanford.

Also this week, Oklahoma State pulled off a gripping one-point win over Texas Tech where OK State star Tiffany Bias went coast-to-coast for the winning layup - a testament to her focus, resilience and determination in all aspects of the game.

Tiffany Bias (Oklahoma State)

Tiffany Bias could be the toughest guard in the country, but you'd never know it from her demeanor. The Oklahoma State star is small (5'6") and youthful (albeit astute and well-spoken on camera). But Bias has played in all 40 minutes of 9 out of the 11 conference games that the Cowgirls have played this season. She is averaging a more than solid 14 points per game and 6 assists. Last year she became the 20th Cowgirl to score 1,000 career points. That aside, though, Bias has an incredible mental and physical endurance that can outlast any of her opponents'.

It should also be noted that Bias and her teammates have dealt with a remarkable tragedy off the court; in 2011 - after Bias's first year with the Cowgirls - Head Coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna died in a devastating plane crash returning from a recruiting trip in the fall of that year. Bias and her teammates handled the news with incredible strength and integrity and went on to win the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

"A lot of the grief, a lot of the internal stuff, came later. And it affected us all differently," Bias said of the accident in an interview with Kansas.com. "I know it changed me as a person, changed my personality."

And either in spite of or because of this change, Bias has managed to push herself to an even greater level of toughness and resilience that can't be matched.

Aaryn Ellenberg (Oklahoma)

Aaryn Ellenberg is a sharp-shooter on and off the court. The senior for Oklahoma was highlighted by espnW this week for both of her talents. Ellenburg is known for her excellent outside shooting (she's averaging 18 points per game for the Sooners) and her aspiring career as a filmmaker and sports photographer. Ellenburg says that knowing the game of basketball really helps out her photography - and I'm willing to bet that her photographer's eye also informs her incredible court presence.

Other notable seniors:

Kayla McBride led Notre Dame to a 81-70 win over Duke with a career-high 31 points.

Odyssey Sims and Baylor rolled past Ellenberg's Oklahoma 96-89.

This week Chiney Ogwumike put up a 26 point game with 15 rebounds to seal the deal for another Cardinal Pac-12 title.

Updates:

Alyssa Thomas (Maryland) - 18 ppg, 10 rpg, 3 apg

Jordan Hooper (Nebraska) - 20 ppg, 9 rpg, 1 apg

Stefanie Dolson (UConn) - 13 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 apg

Maggie Lucas (Penn State) - 21 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg

Chelsea Douglas (Wake Forest) - 18 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg

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Results for April 2014

Draft Preview: Storm

Draft Preview: Storm

This Seattle team has been riddled with injuries and retirements of late (last year Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Ann Wauters were out; this year Lauren Jackson is injured again and Tina Thompson retired), but that’s not to say that the team is without true veteran talent this year. Sue Bird will make her return to the league for her 13th season and Tanisha Wright for her 10th.

Last year (and the year before that) the Storm were ousted by the Minnesota Lynx in the first round of the playoffs. This year, they hope, that curse will be reversed.

And while they’re looking to makeup some of that lag in Lauren Jackson’s post absence, according to Coach Agler "one person can't fill that whole void."

What’s tough, though, is knowing exactly how to navigate a draft where you have a void to fill and three middle-of-the-round picks.

"Everybody has a plan going in but we're sitting at number 7 so who we draft will rely on who's still there. We certainly have an idea who will be drafted early, but really we have to make a decision at the time."

But if there’s one thing that Coach Agler is definitely looking for, it’s "someone that fits our culture and a need we have specifically."

He says, however, that "it's really tough for rookies to come in and be a starter right away." Meaning that they’re looking for someone (or several people) who can fill a specific need without filling Lauren Jackson’s shoes completely.

But that doesn’t worry Agler who says he "feels good about his core group" as well as the team’s "solid defense and two exceptional point guards."

And while Seattle seems to be waiting with bated breath for the draft to happen, Coach Agler encourages fans "to be there in in an excited sort of way but with an open mind because anything could happen."

The Storm just like to keep everyone on their toes. Which is a good thing, come basketball season.

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Draft Preview: Mercury

Draft Preview: Mercury

Phoenix does not have a first round draft pick this year (they traded it to Indiana for Australian point guard Erin Phillips), but rest assured head coach Sandy Brondello still has a plan for the draft.

"Trading for Erin Phillips was great for us as we needed to add a quality point guard to the team and thus giving away our first round pick made sense," Coach Brondello said. "We have two second round picks where they should be good players available for us to take. Who we pick will depend on how we complete our team in lead -up to the draft this next week but I would like for us to have another back-up guard or another athletic wing player to compete for a spot in training camp."

Which makes sense because Phoenix spent their 2013 draft first pick building up their frontcourt with Brittney Griner.

But let’s not forget (and who would?), Phoenix has savy, dynamic veteran Diana Taurasi who has led the franchise to 2 WNBA titles in the past 7 years. The last of which was in 2009.

Since then, the Mercury have made it to and lost in the conference finals 3 times (and once did not qualify for the playoffs). But what does the team need to get over that hump?

"Toughness, defense, depth and staying healthy," Coach Brondello emphasized.

And what to do with their first pick (No. 17 overall)?

"We would like to add a player that is different from what we have," Borndello said. "Ideally, one with athleticism, creativity and who plays hard."

Knowing the Phoenix Mercury, they will do just that.

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2014 WNBA Draft Attendees

2014 WNBA Draft Attendees

NEW YORK, April 10, 2014 - Odyssey Sims of Baylor, winner of the 2014 Wade Trophy as the NCAA Division I Player of the Year, and Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike, a four-time First Team All-American and two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, headline a list of 12 prospects who will attend the WNBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm, which will be held on Monday, April 14, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Live coverage of the first round will begin on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET. Coverage of the second and third rounds will be televised on ESPNU from 9-10:30 p.m.

Center Stefanie Dolson and guard Bria Hartley will represent the 2014 NCAA Champion Connecticut Huskies, while center Natalie Achonwa and guard Kayla McBride will be on hand for the runner-up Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Rounding out the list players are guards Chelsea Gray (Duke), Shoni Schimmel (Louisville), and Meighan Simmons (Tennessee); forwards Natasha Howard (Florida State) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland); and center Markeisha Gatling (North Carolina State).

The Connecticut Sun holds the top pick in the draft for the second time in franchise history after garnering the top selection in this year’s WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm, which aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter in December. Rounding out this year’s top five picks are the Tulsa Shock (second), San Antonio Stars (third), New York Liberty (fourth), and Indiana Fever (fifth).

The left-handed shooting Sims was a consensus All-American and finalist for all major National Player of the Year awards the last two seasons. A four-time All-Big 12 First Team and three-time All-Defensive Team honoree, Sims’ 1,054 points as a senior were the second highest single-season total in Division I history (Missouri State’s Jackie Stiles,1,062), while her career total of 2,533 points surpassed former Baylor teammate Brittney Griner’s Big 12 record.

Ogwumike, whose resume also includes three Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, is the younger sister of Nneka Ogwumike, whom the Los Angeles Sparks made the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 Draft. Chiney entered the recent Final Four as the only Division I player to rank among the top 10 in the nation in scoring (third), field goal percentage (fourth), double-doubles (fourth), and rebounding (ninth), and leaves Stanford as the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

Dolson and Hartley, a pair of AP All-American Second Team picks - as well as roommates for the past three years at Connecticut - helped the Huskies to four straight Final Four appearances and were key contributors during each of the past two seasons as UConn won consecutive national titles, raising the school’s total to a record nine championships. In 2014, both were finalists for multiple National Player of the Year awards and members of the All-American Athletic Conference First Team. Dolson also was named the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Achonwa and McBride helped the Irish to a berth in the NCAA Championship Game in each of the past three seasons. As seniors, the duo led Notre Dame to the first undefeated regular season in program history and to a third straight regular-season conference title (BIG EAST crowns in 2012 and 2013, and an Atlantic Coast Conference title this season). Achonwa, an AP All-America Second Team pick, ranked third in Division I in field goal percentage as a senior, while McBride earned a spot on the AP’s All-American First Team and was voted by ACC coaches as the league’s 2014 ACC Player of the Year.

Gatling led all Division I players in field goal percentage (.663) and was an All-America Honorable Mention pick (AP) and All-ACC First Team selection. She leaves NC State as the school’s all-time career leader in field goal percentage (.628). Gray, despite having the past two seasons cut short by knee injuries, earned Co-ACC Player of the Year honors as a junior and All-America Honorable Mention (AP) as a senior. At the time of her injury in January, she was sixth in Division I in assists and was just 35 shy of Duke’s career record. Howard ranks as the Seminoles’ all-time leader in rebounds (1,047), is No. 2 in both points (1,811) and double-doubles (41), and No. 3 in blocks. She capped her senior season as a finalist for the Wade Trophy and was selected to both the All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team.

Schimmel finished her Louisville career with 387 made three-point shots, five shy of the Division I mark of 392 held by Kansas State’s Laurie Koehn. The first player in Cardinals’ history with 2,000 points and 500 rebounds, Schimmel was an All-America Second Team pick and an All-American Athletic Conference First Team honoree as a senior. Simmons was voted by AP as the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year as a senior (AP), one year after being named Co-Player of the Year by the conference’s coaches along with A’dia Mathies. She finished her Tennessee career as the fifth Lady Vol in history with 2,000+ points, joining such luminaries as Chamique Holdsclaw, Candace Parker, and Tamika Catchings. Thomas, a four-time All-American, three-time ACC Player of the Year, and a candidate for multiple national Player of the Year awards, joined former Duke star Alana Beard as the only players to follow up ACC Rookie of the Year accolades with three straight ACC Player of the Year honors (2012-14). As a senior, Thomas led Division I with four triple-doubles, bringing her career total to seven.

Last year, the excitement generated by the "3 to See" -- Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins -- made the 2013 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm one of the most followed drafts in league history. Delle Donne, selected No. 2 overall by the Chicago Sky, went on to earn the WNBA Rookie of the Year award and was the first rookie in history to lead all vote-getters for the WNBA All-Star Game presented by Boost Mobile. Griner, taken by the Phoenix Mercury with the top pick, and Diggins, selected third by the Tulsa Shock, each earned a place on the All-Rookie Team.

This year’s telecast will also be available on computers, smartphones, tablets, Xbox, Apple TV and Roku via WatchESPN to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. is the home of the Connecticut Sun and has hosted the WNBA All-Star Game three times (2005, 2009, and 2013).

WNBA.com, in addition to providing comprehensive draft-day coverage, will serve as the web destination for fans who want to track the top seniors in advance of the draft.

The players invited to attend WNBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm are:

Natalie Achonwa Notre Dame Forward 6’3"

Stefanie Dolson Connecticut Center 6’5"

Markeisha Gatling North Carolina State Center 6’5"

Chelsea Gray Duke Guard 5’11"

Bria Hartley Connecticut Guard 5’8"

Natasha Howard Florida State Forward 6’3"

Kayla McBride Notre Dame Guard 5’11"

Chiney Ogwumike Stanford Forward 6’4"

Shoni Schimmel Louisville Guard 5’9"

Meighan Simmons Tennessee Guard 5’9"

Odyssey Sims Baylor Guard 5’8"

Alyssa Thomas Maryland Forward 6’2"

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Draft Preview: Lynx

Draft Preview: Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx are not going away anytime soon. In fact, the 2013 WNBA Champs are looking to build up their roster even more with this year’s group of draft hopefuls.

This year Minnesota finds itself with the last pick in every round - as well as the third pick in the second round (from Tulsa) - which shouldn’t leave them feeling anxious as they boast one of the strongest rosters in the league. Janel McCarville and Monica Wright just signed contracts to return and Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Agustus will all be back as well.

"(With) Monica, (we have a) luxury there, we have something no other team has," head coach Cheryl Reeve told LynxBasketball.com. "We have four players that we can put on the floor at any given time." But how do you navigate a draft with 4 late picks and still find someone to gel with a system that - in theory - already works?

"It's funny," Lynx Assistant Coach Shelley Patterson said, "but some people say ‘you guys don't need anything,’ but you always need something."

"I don’t know if there's as much of a strategy when you pick as late as we do," she continued. "You have to do your homework and hopefully you can get someone to kind of compliment the players you already have."

That said, Patterson adds: "We need to bump up our post play." As well as: "We need to strengthen the bench."

But with the 12th pick, who that next addition to the team will be is anyone’s guess.

"Depends on who’s left by then," said Patterson.

Whoever it is though, you can be sure that they’ll be a good fit for the Lynx whose team atmosphere Coach Patterson describes as a "family" that "trusts each other completely."

Which (don’t tell) is probably the biggest secret to the Minnesota Lynx’s success.

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Draft Preview: Mystics

Draft Preview: Mystics

Last year, the Washington Mystics fell one draft pick short of nabbing a member of the "Three to See" with the No. 4 pick in the Draft. The Mystics had just hired Mike Thibault as the new head coach and were ready for an improved season.

Then, Washington went on to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but fell short of advancing to the Finals after losing to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Coach Thibault, the winningest coach in WNBA history, was later named the 2013 WNBA Coach of the Year. Now the Mystics hope the winning continues for the 2014 season.

"The first goal we put on our board is to get better every day," said Thibault. "Obviously we’d like to get back to the playoffs and go farther--but just being more consistent everyday than we were last year. I thought we kind of played in streaks last year--players getting used to me, me getting used to them--kind of believing in what we’re doing. We’ll have a better jumping off point to start training camp this year in that they know what to expect from me and vice versa."

So, with the sixth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Thibault hopes to fill some holes that can help the team get better every day--and with multiple needs, that player could be any position.

"Probably because of where we draft, I’m going to be in a situation where I take whoever I think is the best basketball player," Thibault stated. "Because we have needs throughout our team, it’s not necessarily going to be by position."

With the middle pick in the first round, the Mystics still have multiple players to choose from.

"I think there’s a consensus that there’s a group of eight right now that are a little bit above everybody else--not that somebody else couldn’t crack that group...I think it’s a draft that has some depth to it. Throughout the first round, people are going to get good players. You might not have the same household names this year (as last year), but you’re going to have players down at the ninth and tenth pick who could help teams right away."

With the playoff experience that last year’s core group gained and leaders in Ivory Latta, Crystal Langhorne, Kia Vaughn and newly acquired Kara Lawson, this year’s rookie class will have a good foundation to start the season in hopes of grabbing a Finals spot.

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Draft Preview: Sun

Draft Preview: Sun

In 2012, the Connecticut Sun came close to making it to the WNBA Finals but slipped up in the Eastern Conference Finals. The next season, the Sun hired a new head coach in Anne Donovan, and behind double-double machine Tina Charles, hoped to continue their winning ways. Unfortunately, some injuries derailed those plans and the team failed to make the playoffs. But with the luck of the draw, the Sun now have the first pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft.

Last year, Tina Charles had another stellar season--ranking second in the league for double-doubles, second in rebounds, fifth in points per game and fourth overall in points, rebounds and assists together. But even with those numbers, the whole team couldn’t pull it together.

This season could change that. In her second year, Coach Donovan and her players have learned how to work together and the Sun even added former Connecticut Sun guard/forward Katie Douglas to the roster--bringing another strong leader to the team.

In addition to the added leadership, the Sun have the chance to scoop up the best player with the No. 1 pick in this year's Draft.

"To have the No. 1 pick is an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often," said Donovan. "And based on the season we had last year, we feel like we deserved that pick and we know that we can really build around it and get some momentum. So, we are super excited about that."

The Sun would like to fill a couple of roles with this year’s picks--at the point guard position or in the post--and being at the top of the Draft, there is plenty to choose from.

"Players at the top of the draft: Odyssey Sims, Chiney Ogwumike, Alyssa Thomas, Kayla McBride [have caught our eye]. There’s some really good quality college players that I think will be great WNBA players."

Having taken the time during the past year to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the team, Coach Donovan is ready to fill the gaps and focus on the main goal: Winning championships.

"That’s what our mindset has always been," said Donovan. "And even last year with the injuries and a less than successful season, it’s never wavered. So as we move forward, that’s exactly what we’re trying to build--A championship team and a championship personality that will get that done."

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Video

Douglas on Hosting All-Star

5-time WNBA All-Star Katie Douglas says it's an honor to host the 2015 All-Star and WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun.

Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings Support Lauren Hill

Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.

All-Access: NBA All-Star Relay

To promote healthy living, the NBA teamed up with New York Road Runners for the first-ever marathon relay.

Hammon Makes Coaching Debut

Becky Hammon makes history as the first woman to be a full time NBA coach.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team: Capturing the Gold

An all access look at the team’s journey through the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women culminating in their gold medal win