Bonus hoops: WNBA exceeds last year’s number of OT games

Sports
Dan Hughes

FILE – Seattle Storm head coach Dan Hughes looks toward the court in the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Las Vegas Aces in Everett, Wash., in this Saturday, May 15, 2021, file photo. Storm coach Dan Hughes abruptly announced his retirement on Sunday, May 30, 2021, saying the rigors of being a head coach in the WNBA has taken a toll. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA season is only a few weeks old and there already have been five games that have been decided in overtime, including four in the past seven days.

The total has already surpassed the entire 2020 season and equals the 2019 mark, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. With 37 games played, that’s 13.5% that have gone to an extra period. That would break the previous percentage record set in 2009 of 11.3% according to the league. That season 25 games went to OT.

Whether it’s a sign of parity across the league or just a statistical oddity remains to be seen.

“It’s exciting for the league,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “Parity is good. It’s the WNBA, the best players in the world. Every single game anyone could win. That’s been shown. … The CBA is part of it. That evened out the talent across the league.”

The Storm, who moved back atop the AP power poll this week, have been involved in two of those OT games. Seattle made a change at head coach last week when Dan Hughes abruptly announced his retirement and the team promoted Noelle Quinn to the head spo t.

Quinn helped the Storm win a title as a player in 2018 before becoming a coach. She’s the second current Black female head coach in the league and credited all those who have come before her.

“You talk about Pokey Chatman, Teresa Edwards, Jennifer Gillom, Carolyn Jenkins, Vickie Johnson, Trudi Lacey, Cynthia Cooper, Cheryl Miller, Carolyn Peck, Julie Rousseau, Amber Stocks, Karleen Thompson, Shell Dailey, Jessie Kenlaw, Cathy Parson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Denise Taylor and Penny Toler,” Quinn said. “They crawled, so I can walk. I sit on those shoulders.

“For me, it’s important that I’m not just a woman. I’m a Black woman. I sit with that every day. Sometimes that can be a negative. A double negative for me, to be a woman and to be Black. But I’m empowered in that. There’s value in that. My experience is in that. It shapes me. It has molded me. And that is who I am. I am super honored to hold this.”

POWER POLL

This week’s WNBA poll:

1. Seattle (5-1): One thing that Quinn will have to address is the Storm’s defense. Seattle is 10th in the 12-team league in points allowed per game. Defense has been a staple of the team for years, but with the departure of Alysha Clark and Natasha Howard the Storm need to rebuild their schemes.

2. Las Vegas (5-2): Three straight wins has the Aces looking like the team that reached the WNBA Finals last year. Chelsea Gray has been a huge reason why as the free agent signee averaged 13.7 points, 8.7 assists and 2.7 steals in the victories.

3. Connecticut (6-2): The Sun have dropped two of their last three games, including blowing an eight-point lead in the final 68 seconds of regulation against the Lynx.

4. New York (5-2): The Liberty, who will be without Natasha Howard for at least four weeks due to a sprained MCL, have been riding the hot start of Betnijah Laney. The free agent signee has scored at least 20 points in all seven of her games this season for New York.

5. Atlanta (4-2): The strong play of Courtney Williams, Tiffany Hayes and Chennedy Carter has helped the Dream win four straight games to surge up the standings. They did lose Carter to a hyperextended right elbow in the overtime victory over New York on Saturday.

6. Phoenix (3-3): With Diana Taurasi sidelined for at least four weeks with a sternum injury, Brittney Griner has raised her game. She’s averaged 27 points and 13.5 rebounds in the two games that the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer has missed.

7. Los Angeles (2-2): Back-to-back wins over Chicago gave the Sparks their first victories of the season. They welcomed Amanda Zahui B. back into the fold and she made 10 of her 13 shots in the two wins.

8. Chicago (2-4): The Sky have dropped four straight games and have struggled to take care of the basketball. They’ve averaged 20 turnovers during the skid.

9. Washington (2-4): The Mystics have a quiet week ahead with only one game on Saturday against Las Vegas.

10. Minnesota (1-4): The Lynx are finally in the win column thanks to the addition of Layshia Clarendon, who was signed on Sunday as a roster-hardship addition. Clarendon, who was cut by the Liberty, hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer in overtime to lift the Lynx to the win. She had a potential game-winning 30-footer, but the shot was released just after time expired at the end of regulation.

11. Dallas (1-4): Marina Mabrey has gotten off to a hot start this season averaging 21.2 points — that’s nearly double her mark from last year. The third-year guard is also averaging 6.2 rebounds.

12. Indiana (1-7): It was a rough week for the Fever with consecutive blowout losses in Las Vegas. Indiana continues its five-game road trip with games in Seattle and Los Angeles this week.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

Courtney Williams of the Atlanta Dream had an impressive week, helping the team win all three of its games. Her tiebreaking shot with 1.6 seconds left gave the Dream a 90-87 overtime win over the New York Liberty on Saturday.

“This is what I live for. I live for big shots,” Williams said after finishing with 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the win against new York. “Confidence is never lacking, I wanted the big shots.”

Other players to receive votes included Phoenix’s Brittney Griner, Las Vegas’ Chelsea Gray and Seattle’s Breanna Stewart.

TOKYO BOUND

Kelsey Plum, Katie Lou Samuelson, Stefanie Dolson and Allisha Gray helped the U.S. qualify for 3×3 in the Olympics this summer by finishing in the top three teams over the weekend. The quartet went unbeaten in their games at the qualifying tournament and potentially could represent America at the Tokyo Games in the sport which will be making its Olympic debut.

GAME OF THE WEEK:

Sky at Sparks, Saturday. Candace Parker missed the two games in Chicago this past weekend against her former team because of an ankle injury. She’s on pace to face them in Los Angeles on Saturday. Parker spent the first 13 years of her career in Los Angeles before signing with Chicago in the offseason.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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