Various news items right from the league:
LEAVING A LEGACY: Tamika Catchings has not disappointed during her 15th and final season in a WNBA uniform. The Indiana Fever legend, who celebrates her 37th birthday today, leads Indiana in scoring (13.7 ppg) and steals (2.0 spg) and ranks second in rebounding (4.5 rpg). Her stellar play has helped Indiana win five of its last six games, including consecutive victories over the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Sparks and the Eastern Conference-leading New York Liberty. She grabbed a season-high eight rebounds in Thursday’s 82-70 road victory over New York, raising her career total to 3,260 and putting her 48 boards from passing Lisa Leslie (3,307) for the most in WNBA history. (Catchings needs to average 4.8 rebounds in the Fever’s final 10 games of the season to overtake Leslie.) The 10-time All-Star and five-time Defensive Player of the Year recently spoke at length with VICE Sports about her career highlights, the influence of Pat Summitt and her pursuit of a fourth Olympic gold medal this summer.
RACE TO THE TOP: With about 30 percent of the regular-season schedule left, the race for the No. 1 playoff seed is heating up. The Sparks (20-3) and defending champion Minnesota Lynx (20-4) are separated by a half game, and the Liberty (18-8) sits 3½ games behind L.A. (Under the new playoff structure, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages regardless of conference qualify for the postseason and are seeded based on their record.) The jockeying for position is important because the top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals (third round) and the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round. Los Angeles and Minnesota finish the pre-Olympic break portion of the schedule on Friday, July 22 when the Sparks visit the Washington Mystics (7 p.m. ET, WNBA LEAGUE PASS) and the Lynx plays host to the Seattle Storm (8 p.m. ET, WNBA LEAGUE PASS).
Stats and stuff:
The Sparks and Lynx have a combined winning percentage of .851 (40-7). The highest combined winning percentage for the top two teams in a WNBA season is .859 (55-9) by the 2000 Sparks (28-4) and Comets (27-5).
In a video for The Players’ Tribune, Minnesota’s Maya Moore mentors an aspiring WNBA player, Georgia high school standout Janee Knorr.
The Chicago Sky has won three consecutive games and four of five behind reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne, who ranks second in the WNBA in scoring (21.3 ppg) and is shooting a career-high 48.6 percent from the field. Chicago wraps up its pre-Olympic schedule on Friday against the visiting Connecticut Sun at 8:30 p.m. ET on WNBA LEAGUE PASS.
Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike set career highs of 26 points, seven blocked shots and four steals and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds in Wednesday’s 89-78 win over the Dallas Wings. Ogwumike has recorded three consecutive point-rebound double-doubles and is averaging 18.7 points (on 64.1 percent shooting) and 9.7 rebounds in her last six games.
Connecticut has won four of seven games since a 3-13 start. The 4-3 stretch includes an overtime win over Minnesota and an overtime loss to Los Angeles.
Storm rookie forward Breanna Stewart has blocked five shots in each of her last two games. She ranks third in the WNBA with 2.2 blocks per game.
Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner is averaging 22.3 points in her last four games. She has made four three-pointers in each of her last two games.
New York finished with a WNBA-record 69 bench points in Wednesday’s 88-81 victory over Washington.
The Arizona Republic profiled Storm center Krystal Thomas, a Grand Canyon women’s basketball assistant coach who rejoined the WNBA recently after a two-year break.
Wings forward-center Plenette Pierson (3,980 points) on Wednesday passed WNBA Top 20@20 selection Deanna Nolan (3,971) for 28th place on the all-time scoring list.
Dream forward Angel McCoughtry needs 87 points to pass Sheryl Swoopes for 18th place on the WNBA’s career scoring list.
Indiana forward Lynetta Kizer has scored in double figures in a career-high six consecutive games, averaging 15.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the field. The former third-round pick scored a career-high 21 points against the Liberty today.