Professional Basketball

Records fall during 2018 WNBA Season

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“Records are made to be broken. It is in man’s nature to continue to strive to do that,” Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur and philanthropist once proclaimed. With today being his 68th birthday, it is only fitting that we examine the records that were broken during the 2018 WNBA season thus far.

First to Cross 8,000 Points Mark

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi broke the all-time scoring and field goals records during the 2018 WNBA season. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sports Page Magazine

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi broke Tina Thompson’s all-time scoring record of 7,488 points during on June 18, 2017, and finished last year with 7,867 points in her career. It would be no surprise, barring an unforeseen catastrophe, that Taurasi would become the first player in WNBA history to cross the 8,000 point barrier.

During the June 5, 2018 game at New York, Taurasi shot a free-throw with 5:10 remaining in the first quarter versus the Liberty to hit that mark.

“Somebody will come along and break it eventually. It is a nice round number,” said Taurasi, who has since added an additional 328 point to that total.

Considering that she now needs 672 points to reach the 9,000 point plateau and is under contract through the 2020 season, it would not be impossible for her to break that mark sometime before she decides to retire. The closest active player behind her is Indiana guard Cappie Pondexter, who has 6,696 points.

All-Time Field Goal Leader

Taurasi added another shattered record to her resume on July 5 when she hit a three-pointer in the third quarter in a home game against the Connecticut Sun. It was her 2,631st field goal and surpassed the all-time mark also held by Thompson, who set the previous field goal and scoring records in her 17th season. This is Taurasi’s 14th season. Pondexter is also the closest active player in this category with 2,401 field goals.

Head Coach with 300 Wins

Thibault – Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault is the first professional women’s basketball coach to notch over 300 career wins. Photo by James Garman / Sports Page Magazine

Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault notched his 300th career win when the Mystics downed the Los Angeles Sparks 83-74 at Los Angeles on July 7, becoming the first WNBA head coach to hit that milestone. The Mystics lost three out of their following four games, giving Thibault 301 for his career currently. Sparks head coach Brian Agler is second among active coaches with 266 wins.

Thibault became the WNBA’s all-time winningest coach in 2013 when he notched his 212th victory in his first year coaching the Mystics after ten seasons with the Connecticut Sun.

In a statement released by the league, WNBA President Lisa Borders said, ““Congratulations to Mike Thibault on becoming the first WNBA head coach to win 300 regular-season games. Mike’s dedication to women’s basketball and enduring passion for the game have underpinned his outstanding career. We salute him for his sustained success.”

 

All-Time Rebound Leader

Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson came into the July 5 game against the Los Angeles Sparks with 3,306 rebounds and third place all time behind Lisa Leslie (3,307) and Tamika Catchings (3,316). With 7:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, Brunson grabbed her 11th rebound of the night, a missed three-point shot put up by Candace Parker, making it her 3,317th career rebound for the all-time record. She pulled down one more board in the game.

“Congratulations to Rebekkah Brunson on becoming the WNBA’s all-time leader in rebounds. A relentless pursuit of excellence has defined Rebekkah’s 15-year career and made her a beloved teammate and one of the most respected players in our game. Passing the great Tamika Catchings is a tremendous accomplishment – one of many for a WNBA legend,” said WNBA President Lisa Borders through an official press release.

Brunson also had 15 points for her 82nd career double-double, advancing her to sixth on the WNBA career list of double-doubles, ahead of Yolanda Griffith, her former teammate while at Sacramento.

Single Game Points Record

Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage 53 point performance on July 17 set the all-time record for most points scored in a single game. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sports Page Magazine

Ever since Houston Comets forward notched 44 points in a single game in the July 25, 1997 game against the Sacramento Monarchs, the single-game points record has been one of the most watched records in the league.

It has now been surpassed four times.

Minnesota Lynx forward and current New York Liberty head coach Katie Smith passed the mark with 46 points in an overtime game at Los Angeles on July 8, 2001. Taurasi surpassed that mark with 47 points against the Houston Comets on August 10, 2006. Tulsa Shock guard Riquna Williams, who is now with the Los Angeles Sparks, was the first player to score over 50 points in a game with her 51-point performance against the San Antonio Stars on September 8, 2013.

That record stood until Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage scored 53 points against the New York Liberty during a 104-87 win on July 17. Cambage provided 50.9 percent of the Wings scoring and added 10 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and one steal. She did this with 77 percent shooting (17-22) and did not commit a single turnover. The last NBA player with more than 50 points, 10 rebounds and 75 percent shooting in a single game was Michael Jordan, who did that in 1996.

“I’ve had a bit of an emotional week. I just came in as calm as I could today,” said Cambage. “I just didn’t want to get caught up in any of the other drama today and just focus on me.”

 

 

 

 

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