The Washington Spirit were dealt two crushing blows on NWSL Decision Day.

First, star forward Trinity Rodman received a red card in the club’s regular-season finale against the North Carolina Courage. Then, moments later, Courage forward Tyler Lussi scored what would be the only goal in the 1-0 decision, ending the Spirit’s postseason hopes.

Rodman initially was given a yellow card after tripping North Carolina’s Denise O’Sullivan from behind, but after a VAR review it was elevated to a red card. As a result, Rodman exited the match in the 23rd minute, and the 21-year-old also would have been unavailable for the Spirit’s first game in the 2023 NWSL playoffs. Rodman broke out into tears after the referee showed her the red card.

The twin disappointments marked the end of what had been an encouraging stretch for Rodman: She scored two goals for the U.S. women’s national team in friendly matches in late September, and then scored the game-winning goal in the Spirit’s 2-1 win over the Kansas City Current on Oct. 1.

That the burst came after Rodman went scoreless at the 2023 World Cup was an encouraging sign for the up-and-coming star.

“I do feel like there was a type of freedom. I don’t know where that came from,” she told Uproxx about the USWNT’s September camp. “The World Cup obviously didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but I do think it was a learning experience for everybody. … I think this camp there was a lot more trust, communication and just willingness to play for each other. And if things weren’t going right, we fixed it really fast.”

The Spirit played the OL Reign to a 0-0 draw on Oct. 6, setting up the playoff-deciding matchup Sunday with the Courage. After Rodman’s penalty, which appeared to be an accident, the Spirit let down their guard, and Lussi and the Courage capitalized.With the win, North Carolina clinched a postseason berth, setting up a quarterfinal clash with Gotham FC.

The Las Vegas Aces lost Game 3 of the WNBA Finals to the New York Liberty, and the team could be without one of its biggest weapons moving forward.

Aces point guard Chelsea Gray suffered an apparent left foot injury during the game and then hopped off the court into the bowels of the arena. Gray then was seen being helped into the training room by two members of the team staff.

After the game, Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon said she did not have an update on Gray’s condition. “I’ll let you know when we know,” Hammon told reporters.

Gray, the reigning WNBA Finals MVP after leading the Aces to a 3-1 series victory over the Connecticut Sun last season, went down in the fourth quarter Sunday in what turned into an 87-73 rout for the Liberty.

She scored 11 points before her departure. Upon reaching the bench after the injury, she seemed to say that her “foot popped.”

Gray is averaging 16.3 points, 7.4 assists and 5.0 rebounds for Las Vegas this postseason. In the Aces’ two victories to start the series she scored a combined 34 points to go along with 20 assists and 12 rebounds.

If Gray misses more time during the best-of-five series, “no one person will replace her,” Hammon said.

The Liberty will host the Aces for Game 4 at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday at the Barclays Center in New York. If necessary, Game 5 will be held at 9 p.m. ET Friday in Las Vegas.

The New York Liberty are still alive.

Facing elimination in the 2023 WNBA Finals, the Liberty defeated the Las Vegas Aces, avoiding a series sweep with an 87-73 in Game 3.

The Liberty lost the first two games of the best-of-five championship series but rebounded with a victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Barclays Center. So far, the Finals have mirrored the regular-season series between the two superteams, as Las Vegas and New York each won the two games on their home courts.

The teams will play Game 4 at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday in New York. If necessary, Game 5 will be held at 9 p.m. ET Friday in Las Vegas.

Star center Jonquel Jones led the way for New York, scoring 27 points and bringing down 8 rebounds. Sabrina Ionescu dictated the tone of the Liberty’s offense, recording 11 assists along with 9 points.

Kelsey Plum scored 29 points in a losing effort for the Aces. Another significant loss for Las Vegas came in the fourth quarter, as guard Chelsea Gray exited the game with an apparent leg injury.

Playing in its first WNBA Finals since 2002, New York came out firing in Game 3 after losing the first two games of the series in Las Vegas. Head coach Sandy Brondello’s team led by three points at halftime before breaking the game open over the final two quarters.

The win came in front of an announced 17,143 fans at Barclays Center, the highest gate receipt ever for a WNBA Finals game. Dawn Staley, Joan Jett, Tony Parker and Jason Sudeikis were among those in attendance.

A’ja Wilson was surprised by a familiar face before Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

Dawn Staley, Wilson’s former South Carolina coach, showed up to embrace Wilson before she and the Las Vegas Aces attempted to complete a three-game sweep of the New York Liberty in the best-of-five championship series.

Staley, who also has coached Wilson for Team USA, has long been one of the star forward’s loudest supporters.

After it was revealed that Wilson finished third in the 2023 WNBA MVP voting, with one voter placing Wilson fourth on their ballot, Staley sent a message on X.

“To the fourth place voter, your hate is real and on display,” Staley wrote.

The admiration between coach and player goes both ways.

“I’m always proud to say, I’m a product of Dawn Staley, and that’s the stamp. That’s a big stamp for me and I love it, and you can see it carries out throughout my college teammates,” Wilson said in September. “And it’s just a type of vibe that we give, the culture that we built there. It’s no surprise that we’re being very successful in this league.”

Wilson is averaging 24.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this postseason. The 27-year-old scored 26 points to go along with 15 rebounds in the Aces’ 104-76 win over the Liberty in Game 2.

Staley, meanwhile, will return to the sideline in Paris, France, on Nov. 6, when the Gamecocks will open their season against Notre Dame.

LSU home games are going to be a special environment this season.

The Tigers have officially sold out their season tickets for the 2023-24 campaign, and to celebrate, coach Kim Mulkey brought a cookie cake to the team’s ticket department that read “SOLD OUT.”

LSU plays its home games at the 13,215-seat Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. After winning the NCAA championship in April, and returning star forward Angel Reese, the Tigers have become a popular ticket.

The successful sales come despite the LSU Board of Supervisors approving a price hike for the season, with ticket prices increased between $25 to $75, depending on the level. The athletic department told the board it anticipates the increased revenue will total around $320,000.

A lot of money is floating around the program. After the championship, LSU signed Mulkey to a 10-year, $32 million contract extension, making her the highest-paid women’s college basketball coach ever. And Reese has a NIL valuation of $1.7 million, according to On3, the second highest among women athletes and seventh most in all.

The Tigers open the season Nov. 6 against Colorado in Las Vegas as part of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame series. They then host Queens on Nov. 9 in their first home game of the season.

On Friday, Paige Bueckers took the UConn women’s basketball stage for the first time since her injury.

The Huskies did not play a game, but instead played to the crowd at their annual First Night of UConn. As the PA announcer said her name, Bueckers smiled and waved her arms to call for more noise. It was the loudest ovation of the evening.

“It’s a fun night for them,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said to the media about the First Night festivities. “They get a kick out of performing. They get to act silly, experience the adulation of the crowd, none of them are going to miss any shots tonight, none of them are going to foul out.”

The evening excitement was hardly damped by the fact that Bueckers, who missed the entire 2022-23 campaign with a torn ACL, recently suffered a jammed left thumb and did not practice Thursday and Friday.

The Huskies kick off the regular season Nov. 8 against Dayton, and in Auriemma’s telling, have a lot of room to improve until then.

“I don’t like some of the things we do to hurt ourselves,” he said. “Again it’s early, I want to make sure that stuff gets cleaned up. We’re playing faster, quicker, more shots are going in. Obviously we’ve got more players available to us. They work really really really hard. There’s a good chemistry, the young guys have fit in well.”

Bueckers will also need to find her footing after missing last season. At full strength, she could change the complexion of UConn’s season. In 2021, she was named AP Player of the Year after averaging 20 points, 5.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. She played only 17 games the following season but still led the Huskies to the national championship game.

The New York Liberty are on the brink of elimination in the WNBA Finals. And coach Sandy Brondello thinks she has the solution: an attitude adjustment.

“It’s about action now,” she told the media. “No f—ing feelings anymore.”

Entering Game 3 on Sunday at Barclays Center, the Liberty are trailing the Las Vegas Aces 2-0 in the series. After a dominant regular season, Brondello’s team has been outscored 99-82 and 104-76 in the series.

“We’re all disappointed, angry, embarrassed, with how we played,” Brondello continued. “I think we have all those emotions, but it’s about action now, not emotion. It’s about what you can do. Not how you’re feeling … Feelings blind us, you know what I mean? It’s like, feel them and express them, and get them out. Now focus on what you can control — it’s actions, not emotions.”

Liberty star Breanna Stewart, in particular, struggled in Game 2, scoring just 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Stewart echoed Brondello’s theory for the team’s struggles.

“I think that our mental was kind of all over the place,” she said.

The Liberty had some success against the Aces before the series, beating them in the Commissioner’s Cup championship game. The teams split four regular season matchups. But when it matters most, the Liberty have looked like a shell of their past selves.

Brondello thinks it’s time for her team to toughen up.

“We still have an opportunity here,” Brondello said. “We learn and we’re staying in the moment, but we’ve got to do what we’re supposed to do, and that’s how we can help each other.”

Haley Cavinder’s NCAA career is not over.

Cavinder had previously announced that she and her twin sister Hanna would retire from college basketball after spending last season with Miami. But on Friday, Cavinder entered the transfer portal, with the intent to return to the court for the 2024-25 season, her agent Jeff Hoffman told ESPN.

“See you next season,” Cavinder wrote on Instagram.

Cavinder, a guard, averaged 12.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season, earning second-team All-ACC honors and leading the Hurricanes to their first appearance in the Elite Eight.

The Cavinder twins have a massive social media following, and together, they became stars of the first NIL wave in college athletics. In 2021, they signed NIL deals with WWE, and in April they announced they would forgo their final seasons of college eligibility to pursue opportunities with the sports entertainment company.

“I started with her, so at the end of the day, I want to end basketball and start our new lives together, but it was definitely difficult for me,” Cavinder said at the time.

Cavinder will spend the next year training with her sister for WWE, according to ESPN, and then work toward one final season of college basketball.

The Cavinder twins transferred to Miami for last season after playing together at Fresno State for three seasons. On their joint TikTok account they have 4.5 million followers.

Breanna Stewart’s star has never been brighter. Now she wants to give back.

Stewart wrote on X that she’d like to help bring a basketball court to a new community youth center in Jackson, Mississippi. She responded to a post from Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, who asked if any WNBA or WNBA teams would be interested in helping.

“Would love to help,” Stewart wrote. “How much do you need?”

Thomas told Stewart she would put her in touch with her executive director but hardly hid her excitement.

“Y’all. My mind is blown,” Thomas wrote.

Stewart recently won her second league MVP award, and now she’s back in the national spotlight as the Liberty challenge the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA Finals.

Stewart averaged 23 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game during the regular season as the Liberty rolled to the second best record in the league, behind the Aces.

This is the Liberty’s first appearance in the Finals since 2002. Stewart, meanwhile, won two championships with the Seattle Storm.

“I’m making sure we enjoy this opportunity. We have an interesting mix of players that have never been here before, players that have, but this is the biggest stage and this is when you want to be at your best,” Stewart said to the media. “You obviously come here for the purpose of bringing a championship to New York.”

Coach Becky Hammon is ready for her Las Vegas Aces to get back on the court.

When the Aces open the 2023 WNBA Finals against the New York Liberty on Sunday, it will mark nine days since their last game. By sweeping the Dallas Wings in the semifinal, the Aces afforded themselves a long rest – and Hammon is anxious for it to end.

“I hate waiting that long,” Hammon said to reporters. “As a coach, you just start dicing everything in your head. We could do this. We could do that. And sometimes it’s just, ‘Keep it simple, stupid.’”

Hammon emphasized she does not want to confuse her players.

“What I don’t want to do is bog them down schmetically to where it makes them slow and not reactionary. Our aggression can work in our favor,” she said.

The Liberty, meanwhile, last played Oct. 1. New York coach Sandy Brondello suggested the series could’ve started a couple days earlier.

“Rest is good, but maybe start a little earlier,” Brondello said of the series’ scheduling. “It’s like a marathon just to get this done.”

But there is a silver lining, Brondello said.

“Everyone is going to be rested so fatigue shouldn’t be a big issue. We’l just go out there and lay it all out on the line,” she said.