The WNBA regular season is reaching its climax, with three of the four teams featuring Australians in good shape to reach the playoffs. Liz Cambage continued to shatter records with her dominant play, but the news wasn't quite as good for Rebecca Allen and the New York Liberty, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention this week.
Liz Cambage continued her record-breaking form in the immediate aftermath of the All-Star game, putting up 33 points and 13 rebounds in Dallas’ first game after the break against Chicago.
However, even that mammoth performance proved to not quite be enough as despite rallying from 19 down at halftime to lead with 13 seconds remaining, the Wings couldn’t manage to stop Cheyenne Parker from hitting the game-winner with five seconds to play as Chicago picked up the 92-91 victory.
Fellow Australian Cayla George came off the bench for the Wings, finishing scoreless with two assists in eight minutes on court.
Cambage’s dominant offensive form continued with a 37-point outing alongside 9 rebounds against Indiana, but the Wings sorely missed star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith in a surprise 84-78 loss to the struggling Fever as Dallas’ skid continued heading into a vital game with Washington later in the week. George again finished scoreless for the Wings, playing a brief five-minute cameo off the bench.
However, the tough times continued for the Wings against Washington, falling to their fifth consecutive loss after Kristi Toliver scored the last seven points of the game, including a miraculous turnaround jumper to break a tie and steal a 76-74 victory.
Cambage was again solid at both ends to finish with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists, whilst George finished with a solitary basket to tally 2 points in 7 minutes off the bench.
Seattle’s charge towards the top seeding for the playoffs continued unabated as the Storm powered to a trio of victories, mathematically securing a playoff spot that had for all intents and purposes been wrapped up for a couple of weeks.
Seattle kicked off their week by easing their way to a 102-91 victory over Phoenix after leading by 20 midway through the fourth quarter. Sami Whitcomb had a decent run out, playing 10 minutes off the bench and nailing one three-pointer for her only points of the game.
The Mercury’s Australian pairing of Steph Talbot and Leilani Mitchell each came off the bench, with Talbot tallying 6 points and 3 rebounds whilst Mitchell added 7 points and 2 assists in their team’s loss.
Stephanie with her second hit from three in the quarter! 👌 pic.twitter.com/IiCt2StQr9— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 1, 2018
Whitcomb again came off the bench as Seattle stormed home in the second half against Minnesota, securing an 85-75 victory after trailing by a single point at halftime. The former Perth Lynx star went scoreless in the win, playing just five minutes and tallying a single steal for her efforts.
Amazingly, the Storm’s toughest game of the week came against the struggling New York Liberty, with Seattle leading by just three with five minutes to play before finally managing to pull away in the latter stages to secure a 96-80 victory.
Whitcomb enjoyed a more extended run than she had been afforded against Minnesota, finishing with 3 points and 2 rebounds in 12 minutes, whilst the Liberty’s own Australian, Rebecca Allen, added three points of her own in 8 minutes off the bench.
The loss to Seattle was just one of three defeats that New York suffered this week as a tough 2018 campaign draws nearer to its premature conclusion. The Liberty managed to keep pace with Connecticut for much of the game in their opening contest of the week, but a fourth-quarter surge from the Sun put the Liberty on the back foot and resulted in a 92-77 loss for New York, with Rebecca Allen tallying 3 points in her 10 minutes on court.
Indiana should have been the Liberty’s best chance to pick up a morale-boosting win, but instead things went in the complete opposite direction as New York scored just two points in the final term after leading 53-51 with a quarter to play, failing to hit a single shot from the field in the last 10 minutes of play to fall to a 68-55 defeat.
Allen saw 11 minutes of playing time, collecting 2 rebounds and 2 steals but finishing scoreless as the Liberty fell to 7-20.
Phoenix’s loss to Seattle proved to be part of what was a mixed week for a Mercury side looking to improve their seeding for the playoffs as they won just one of their three games. That solitary win came against Las Vegas, with the Mercury riding on the back of WNBA legend Diana Taurasi’s 37-point, 9-assist performance to secure a 104-93 victory.
Steph Talbot started for the Mercury and finished with 8 points and 4 assists in 31 minutes, whilst Leilani Mitchell came off the bench to tally 3 points in 14 minutes.
The Mercury kept in touch with Los Angeles throughout their contest later in the week, but in the end the Sparks escaped with a 78-75 victory after Chelsea Gray sank a pair of late free throws before DeWanna Bonner’s attempt at a game-tying three in the final seconds missed the mark.
Talbot again started, playing 34 minutes to finish with 8 points and 6 rebounds, whilst Mitchell tallied 3 points courtesy of a shot from deep that kept the Mercury in touch late in the game, as well an assist in just 5 minutes on court.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/LqCZJmjjk2— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 6, 2018