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Game winners, clocks freezing and impressive debuts: takeaways from WNBA opening weekend

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

C/O: Associated Press

The 25th WNBA season tipped off this weekend and it was nothing short of exciting.

Rookies impressed, players who made their debuts on their new team dominated, and two game winners capped off one of the best opening weekends in the history of the WNBA.

Here are the takeaways from this weekends games featuring regional teams:

Indiana Fever @ New York Liberty

Liberty takeaways:

The Liberty made their debut in Barclays Center and put on a show.

  • Rookie Michaela Onyenwere, 6th overall pick, shined in her debut. She recorded 18 points and 5 rebounds which shooting an even 50% from the field.

  • Sabrina Ionescu shined in her first game coming back from her injury sustained three games into the Wubble season.

    • She recorded a double-double with a stat line of 25 points, 6 rebounds and 11 assists.

    • In Sabrina like fashion, she hit her first game winner with 0.4 seconds left to go

  • Betnijah Laney reinforced why she got most improved player in 2020. She recorded 30 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 61% from the field.

    • Before the 2020 Wubble season, the Indiana Fever cut her.

    • Signed with the Atlanta Dream shortly after the Fever cut her.

Fever takeaways:

The Fever dominated on the boards, out-rebounding the Liberty 45-28.

  • Teaira McCowan continues to show why she will be a dominant post in the league.

    • She dominated on both the offensive and defensive end, using her 6'7 frame to her advantage.

      • She recorded 22 points and an extremely impressive 16 rebounds.

  • Jantel Lavender joined the rebound party as well, recording 10.

    • She also had a near double-double with 9 points to go along with the 10 boards.

  • Kelsey Mitchell showed why she is one of the most underrated guards in the league.

    • When the three ball wasn't going down for her, she showed her versatility by settling for inside shots and the midrange.

    • She recorded 23 points and 4 rebounds including a steal.

The Liberty defeated the Fever 90-97.

Connecticut Sun @ Atlanta Dream

Sun takeaways:

The Sun had two players players score in double digits but that wasn't without the help of team ball movement.

  • DeWanna Bonner played like the DB we all know and love.

    • She was solid on both ends of the court, showing how versatile she is.

      • She recorded 21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and three blocked shots.

  • After sitting out last season due to COVID concerns, Jonquel Jones returned to the Sun lineup.

    • If anyone had any doubts that Jones would've lost a step, they were proven completely wrong.

      • Jones was a beast on both ends, recording 26 points and 8 rebounds.

  • Don't let Natisha Hiedeman's 5'8 frame fool you because she can cause damage from everywhere.

    • Hiedeman grabbed 8 boards and had a block and a steal to go along with 9 points and 3 assists

Dream takeaways:

Despite the 4/5 of the Dream's starters scoring in double-digits, the bench wasn't able to produce.

  • Poor shooting as a team plagued the team as they shot almost 36% from the field and 16.7% from three compared to the Sun's 44.3% from the field and 43.5% from three.

  • Odyssey Sims was their most efficient player shooting 50% even.

    • Sims recorded 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

  • Despite not playing like fans are used to, Chennedy Carter was able to muster up 10 points and a steal.

  • Tianna Hawkins had a pretty solid night despite her poor shooting.

    • She recorded 11 points and was able to disrupt on the defensive end a bit with 2 steals and a block.

  • Energy filled Courtney Williams had a pretty similar night to Sims in terms of overall stats.

    • She recorded 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block.

    • Overall, Williams was the overall most disruptive Dream player on the court.

The Sun defeated the Dream 78-67.

Phoenix Mercury @ Connecticut Sun

Sun takeaways:

The Sun proved that on the road or at home, they are a team to be reckoned with this year.

  • Bonner and Hiedeman continued to give fits to the defense as they scored at will from all corners of the court.

  • Jonquel Jones has emphatically stated with her performance in the first two games that she is back.

Mercury takeaways:

If you frustrate them with good offensive motion you will force them to foul.

  • The Mercury clearly have strong play from Griner and Taurasi, but there are a few holes that need to be filled if this team is going to contend for another championship.

  • Having the first 3 games on the season be road games played in a span of 5 days certainly gut checks you early in the season.

The Sun defeated the Mercury 86-78. Game 3's on the season continued to fair well for both sides as the Liberty defeated the Lynx 86-75 on Sabrina Ionescu's triple-double, the first in Liberty history and making her the 2nd youngest WNBA player to notch one. The former Oregon Duck threw down 26-10-12 to complete the feat. The Sun for their part defeated the Indiana Fever 86-75 to extend their undefeated start. Both the Liberty and Sun remain two of four undefeated teams in the WNBA along with the Chicago Sky and Dallas Wings. The Liberty will take on the Washington Mystics on Friday while the Connecticut Sun will rematch with the Phoenix Mercury, in Phoenix this time around. #wnba #wnba25 #nyliberty #connecticutsun #sabrinaionescu

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