WNBA News: June 2, 2016


FEELING MINNESOTA: The defending champion Minnesota Lynx has picked up where it left off last season. The Lynx has opened 6-0 for the third time in five years, extending its May winning streak to 17 games. If Minnesota defeats the Dallas Wings on Saturday, it would tie the 2014 team for the second-best start in franchise history. The team’s best start ever also happens to be the league record: 10-0 in 2012. This year’s early success has been spurred by Maya Moore, who today was named Western Conference Player of the Month for May. During her dominant start, the 2014 WNBA MVP has averaged 22.3 points (second in the WNBA) and 5.3 assists (tied for third) and shot 54.4 percent from the field (eighth).

NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: ESPN2’s next WNBA telecast is Tuesday, June 7 as the Los Angeles Sparks host the New York Liberty at 10 p.m. ET. Los Angeles (5-0) is off to its best start in 13 seasons and boasts the league’s top scoring offense (88.4 ppg) behind Candace Parker (20.8 ppg), Nneka Ogwumike (15.6 ppg) and Kristi Toliver (13.4 ppg). New York is powered by forward Eastern Conference Player of the Month Tina Charles, who leads the WNBA in scoring (23.4 ppg) and rebounding (11.8 rpg). To preview the matchup, New York forward Swin Cash and director of player development Teresa Weatherspoon will join Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike and executive vice president and general manager Penny Toler for a media conference call onMonday, June 6 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The media call-in number is (800) 230-1092.

MERCURY RISING: The Phoenix Mercury avoided the first 0-5 start in franchise history by defeating the Washington Mystics on Sunday, and followed that breakthrough with a victory against the Connecticut Sun two days later. The WNBA general managers’ preseason title pick is gaining steam behind guard Diana Taurasi (22.0 ppg), who needs 146 points to become just the third player in WNBA history to reach 7,000, joining Tina Thompson (7,488) and new 7,000-point member Tamika Catchings (7,014). Phoenix is the league’s only team with four players averaging at least 12 points, with DeWanna Bonner (14.2 ppg), Brittney Griner (13.8 ppg) and Penny Taylor (13.7 ppg) joining Taurasi.

W2What to watch for around the WNBA over the next week (all times Eastern):

Thursday, June 2: Candace Parker and the Sparks look to improve to 6-0 when they host the San Antonio Stars at 10:30 p.m. on WNBA LEAGUE PASS.

Friday, June 3: The East-leading Atlanta Dream puts its four-game winning streak on the line when it visits Chiney Ogwumike and the Sun (7 p.m., WNBA LEAGUE PASS). In addition, the Indiana Fever face the Liberty in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals (7:30 p.m., WNBA LEAGUE PASS).

Saturday, June 4: The Lynx looks to stay perfect when it meets the visiting Wings at 8 p.m. on WNBA LEAGUE PASS.

Sunday, June 5: The Liberty opens a three-game road trip at the Seattle Storm at 7 p.m. on WNBA LEAGUE PASS.

Tuesday, June 7: Along with Sparks-Liberty on ESPN2, the host Lynx and Mercury square off for the third time this season at 8 p.m. on NBA TV.

Wednesday, June 8: With Ivory Latta back in the lineup, Washington visits Dallas at 8:30 p.m. on WNBA LEAGUE PASS.

W3Storm forward Breanna Stewart today was named the WNBA Rookie of the Month for May. Stewart led all rookies in points (17.4 ppg), rebounds (8.8 rpg) and blocks (2.0 bpg).

Reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Jewell Loyd of Seattle ranks eighth in the WNBA with a team-high 18.3 points per game and is shooting 50 percent from the field through six games. Last season, she averaged 10.7 points on 41.1 percent shooting.

The Chicago Sky assisted on 27 of its 32 baskets in Wednesday’s 86-78 victory over the Mystics. Guard Courtney Vandersloot recorded eight assists in 17 minutes off the bench in her second game back after missing three games with an ankle injury.

Rolling Stone’s website profiled 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Della Donne of Chicago.

Washington center Kia Vaughn grabbed her 1,000th career rebound Wednesday.

San Antonio center Jayne Appel-Marinelli leads the league in blocked shots with 3.0 per game. Her career high for a season is 1.3.

W4Jonquel Jones, Sun rookie center: “I remember flicking through the channels one day [as a kid], and I ran across a WNBA game. … I just saw these women playing and I could tell that they were playing at the highest level. I just remember watching them, like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this? I really want to be a part of this.”

Angel McCoughtry, Dream forward: “The one thing that I’ve learned in my career is positivity, whether we win over lose. I wasn’t a positive player earlier in my career, but now I’m trying to enforce positivity, whether we win or lose. If you have positivity, nothing can get you down. That is a true heart of a champion.”

Meg Linehan, Excelle Sports: “There was certainly talk [after Tuesday’s victory over New York] of the Lynx matching — or beating — the all-time-best WNBA record of 29-5, set by the Phoenix Mercury in 2014. [Maya] Moore isn’t quite ready to contribute to the conversation just yet, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility either.”

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