All Scores

Rebecca Lobo had some high praise for Caitlin Clark.

Clark had a 29-point triple-double last Friday in Iowa’s win over Rutgers, coming off of four-straight games in which the Iowa star had 35+ points, tying the NCAA record. Her recent run of play had ESPN broadcaster Rebecca Lobo drawing some lofty comparisons.

“I think Caitlin Clark, scoring aside, barring injury will become the No. 1 scorer in women’s college basketball,” Lobo said at halftime of the South Carolina game. “I think she’s the best offensive player we’ve seen in women’s college basketball in 20 years, since Diana Taurasi.

“And it’s not just her ability to score. It’s not just the 31 points a game, her ability to assist. The real separator to me is the range that she has on her shot because it makes her that much more unguardable. … Best offensive player we have seen in 20 years.”

The Hawkeyes star is on track to break the all-time women’s scoring record for NCAA basketball held by Kelsey Plum. Since Taurasi, others have come through the NCAA ranks like Maya Moore, Candace Parker, A’ja Wilson and Plum. Lobo recognized that on social media, but still held firm in her comments.

“There have been some great offensive players in WCBB the last 20 years (Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, EDD, Breanna Stewart, Kelsey Plum),” she wrote. “I believe @CaitlinClark22 is the best player on the offensive end since Diana Taurasi.”

Even still, the comments did draw some ire from others, including current WNBA player Lexie Brown.

“The erasure of recent college greats is mind boggling to me,” she wrote on social media. “I can’t stand it.”

Who are the top scorers in WNBA playoff history? Just Women’s Sports breaks down the top 10 all-time points leaders.

While Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury did not make the 2023 playoffs, the 41-year-old guard still holds the top spot on the leaderboard by more than 300 points over the next closest competitor.

Just one player – Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner – moved up the leaderboard during the 2023 postseason.

Bonner jumped to fourth place and sits 62 points back of Tamika Catchings in third. (She also features in the top 10 in postseason history in rebounds, blocks and steals.)

As the 2023 WNBA playoffs begin, teams are still dealing with a number of injuries. Take the Washington Mystics, who will be without Shakira Austin for the first two games of their first-round series against the New York Liberty.

Just Women’s Sports is keeping tabs on the most notable WNBA injuries and, where possible, providing the timetable for the player’s return. This report also includes athletes who are missing the 2023 WNBA season due to pregnancy or maternity leave.

Injured WNBA players who could return this season

Shakira Austin, Washington Mystics

Second-year center Shakira Austin went down on June 25 with a hip strain. An MRI revealed that the injury doesn’t require surgery, but she missed nearly two months as a result.

Austin returned in mid-August in a win over Chicago but has remained limited in her minutes. Weeks later against the Aces, she re-injured the hip that had kept her out nearly two months. She will miss at least the first two games of the Mystics’ first-round series against the New York Liberty.

Candace Parker, Las Vegas Aces

The two-time WNBA MVP will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a left foot fracture, the Las Vegas Aces announced in July.

Parker has been playing on the fracture all season, according to the team, but a recent consultation with doctors revealed that surgery was the best option to return to health and to avoid further injury.

After signing with Las Vegas in the offseason, Parker started the first 18 games of the season for the Aces, averaging 9.0 points per game.

WNBA players who have returned to the court

Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

The two-time WNBA MVP injured her left ankle on July 9, but she returned on Aug. 18. The 33-year-old started this season fully healthy for the first time in almost three years after dealing with back issues that kept her sidelined for a significant amount of time.

NaLyssa Smith, Indiana Fever

A stress fracture in her left foot was expected to keep the 22-year-old forward out for at least two weeks, the Fever announced on July 11.

Smith made her returned on Aug. 8 and has been instrumental for Indiana since then, including a career-high 30 points in the team’s overtime win over Dallas on Sunday.

Layshia Clarendon, Los Angeles Sparks

Clarendon returned on July 22, appearing for the first time since June 9. A partial tear of the right plantar fascia ligament in their foot had kept Clarendon off the floor.

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Brittney Griner had been out since June 13 with a hip injury but made her return against the Storm on June 24, putting up 11 points and 6 rebounds through 20 minutes.

Ruthy Hebard, Chicago Sky

Hebard gave birth to her son, Xzavier Reid, in April. The Chicago Sky forward returned just 12 weeks later.

“All this has just shown me how much I love the game,” Hebard said one week before making her return on July 9. “I love being around my teammates. I just love everything about basketball. More than anything, I just want to be back.”

Aari McDonald, Atlanta Dream

The 24-year-old guard tore her labrum against the Las Vegas Aces on June 2, the Dream announced on June 6. She returned to action on July 20.

Diamond Miller, Minnesota Lynx

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft sprained her right ankle during Minnesota’s loss to the Dallas Wings on May 30. In a statement, the Lynx said Miller will “be reevaluated in the following weeks and further updates will be issued when available.” Miller scored a career-high 18 points in her return on June 27.

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

The Mercury also went without Diana Taurasi (hamstring) through three games (all double-digit losses). Taurasi returned on June 24, playing 19 minutes and putting up 13 points and 4 rebounds against Seattle.

Injured WNBA players out for the season

Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun

The Connecticut Sun announced on June 24 that Brionna Jones suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in a game against the Seattle Storm on June 20 and underwent a successful surgery on June 23.

“While this is not how I envisioned this season ending for me, I am determined and ready to head into the next stage of recovery and rehab. I know I have an amazing support system behind me, and I will return on the other side of this stronger than ever,” Jones said in a statement.

Prior to the injury, Jones was first in the league in offensive rebounds (3.2/game), fifth in steals (1.8), and ninth in field goal percentage (57.1).

“We are heartbroken for Breezy. Anyone who knows her, knows she’s an amazing person, teammate and leader for our group,” said Connecticut Sun head coach Stephanie White.

“On the court, she has worked so hard to position herself as a cornerstone of our franchise and was playing terrific basketball. … As a team, we know we have a job to do, and we will dedicate our work toward the ultimate goal of winning a championship in a way that honors Breezy.”

Diamond DeShields, Dallas Wings

DeShields missed the regular season with a knee injury, and she remain out for the postseason.

While the 28-year-old guard appeared in a May 5 preseason game against Chicago, she did not travel for the team’s second preseason game out of precaution due to knee soreness. It’s unclear when she could make a return this season.

Rebekah Gardner, Chicago Sky

Gardner will miss the playoffs for Chicago. She missed most of the season after undergoing foot surgery for the break she sustained during a loss to the Washington Mystics on May 26.

Isabelle Harrison, Chicago Sky

The 29-year-old forward missed the season with a knee injury. The Sky revealed in May that Harrison would be out indefinitely after having surgery to repair a torn left meniscus. Harrison, who signed as a free agent with Chicago in February, has played six seasons in the WNBA.

Li Yueru, Chicago Sky

Li will miss the season with a non-WNBA injury, the Sky announced on May 18. She played for Chicago last season but missed the postseason to prepare for the 2022 World Cup with the Chinese national team.

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Dallas Wings

The former UConn star underwent knee surgery during the first week of the season and missed the season as a result. The 25-year-old wing was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

Stephanie Talbot, Los Angeles Sparks

The 28-year-old forward signed with the Sparks in the offseason but tore her Achilles while playing for the Adelaide Lightning in Australia in February.

Kristi Toliver, Washington Mystics

The 36-year-old guard suffered a torn ACL in early September, which will sideline for the 2023 playoffs.

“I’m not going to lie: Emotionally, I’m shocked,” the Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne said. “You try to do the whole thing where you want to rally for [Toliver], but we were sick. Just sick. What she’s been through with her foot, how much she’s worked to get back — and she’s feeling good. She’s talking about even next year and all those things. To see something like that happen at this point in her career, it just sucks. … She’s such a great person. So it’s brutal.”

WNBA players out due to pregnancy or childbirth

Natalie Achonwa, Minnesota Lynx

Achonwa gave birth to her first child, son Maverick, in April and missed the WNBA season on maternity leave.

Achonwa, a member of the WNBA players’ union executive committee, helped negotiate for many of the pregnancy protections and maternity benefits that were included in the league’s 2020 collective bargaining agreement.

“Previously if you were out on maternity leave you’d get fifty per cent of your base salary,” Achonwa told SportsNet.

“I will receive my full salary this year whether I’m able to make it back or not — so pending clearance from doctors and trainers and stuff like that to see if I will make it back by the end of the year — but knowing that my family will be taken care of financially while I’m out on maternity leave was huge.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix Mercury

Diggins-Smith is out on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child during the WNBA offseason and her return timeline is unclear.

“I’m not really worried about snapping back,” she recently told Essence. “I just want to enjoy this time with my daughter.”

Katie Lou Samuelson, Los Angeles Sparks

Samuelson welcomed a baby girl in August, and her pregnancy kept out of the 2023 season. The 25-year-old forward averaged 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 29.5 minutes per game in 2022.

“Life is full of surprises and 2023 surprised us in the best way possible!” she wrote in a social media announcement of her pregnancy. “We can’t wait to welcome the newest member of our family!”

Emma Hruby and Alex Azzi contributed to this report. 

Brittney Griner has no plans to play with any WNBA team but the Phoenix Mercury.

While Griner, 32, enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, she has made it clear that she intends to stay in the place where she’s played the entirety of her 10-season WNBA career.

“Phoenix is home,” Griner said Monday at the Mercury’s final media session of the year. “Me and my wife literally just got a place [here]. This is it.”

The Mercury (9-31) finished last in the WNBA standings in 2023 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012. But Griner and fellow Mercury veteran Diana Taurasi want to stay put.

Taurasi signed a two-year deal ahead of the 2023 season, which will keep her in Phoenix through 2024. The 41-year-old guard confirmed Monday that she intends to play, putting to bed any rumors of retirement.

This season, Taurasi missed 14 games due to injuries, including the final stretch. She last played on Aug. 29. But when she played, she averaged 16.0 points and 4.6 assists.

“Sometimes you can do all the right things, offseason, in season. That doesn’t mean you’re always going to get what you want,” Taurasi said. “I’ve got another year on my contract and I’m definitely going to fulfill that. I’m excited with what we’ll be able to do in free agency and having some salary cap space to make some moves.”

Griner and Taurasi also both intend to make a run for the Paris Olympics next summer.

“Our first training camp is Nov. 2, and I’ll be reporting, and doing my best to hopefully be on that team,” Taurasi said of going for her sixth Olympic appearance for Team USA.

The WNBA single-season scoring record now belongs to Breanna Stewart.

Stewart scored 40 points in the New York Liberty’s narrow win over the Dallas Wings on Tuesday, marking her fourth time this season scoring that many points or more. But it was her 15th point of the night that broke the record, making her the WNBA’s single-season leader with 861 points on the season.

She finished the night with 885 points, and she will have the opportunity to extend her record in the final two games of the regular season. Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi had held the record since 2006.

“It means a lot,” Stewart said of the record. “Any time I’m in the same limelight as ‘D,’ it’s a huge honor.

“I have something I can like over her head a little bit,” she added, laughing. “Really appreciate everything that I’ve been able to do and wouldn’t be able to do it without my teammates.”

In her first season with the Liberty, Stewart has been averaging a career-highs 23.3 points and 3.9 assists per game, as well as 9.4 rebounds per game. The 2018 WNBA MVP spent her first six seasons with Seattle.

In 2006, Taurasi set the record in just 34 games, with an average of 25.3 points per game. Stewart has benefitted from the WNBA’s expanded 40-game schedule, as Tuesday’s game was her 38th of the season.

And Stewart isn’t the only one racking up the points. Jewell Loyd has 852 points with three games left to play and likely will surpass Taurasi’s mark as well. A’ja Wilson has 846 points with two games to play and likely will do the same. Either one even could surpass Stewart by the time the season is done.

“I have this back-and-forth feeling with the scoring record, because any time I’m in the same limelight as D, it’s amazing, just because of what she’s done in her career and what she continues to do,” Stewart said. “But obviously, it’s more games. More games is more points. As we have 40-game seasons, and we continue to build off that, there’s going to be a lot of records that are broken.”

Diana Taurasi is excited to see what UConn basketball can do with a healthy Paige Bueckers.

The 21-year-old guard missed last season with an ACL tear, but she officially has been cleared to return for the 2023-24 season. And Taurasi believes the Huskies and the sport will be better with Bueckers on the court.

“I think the game has missed Paige,” Taurasi said Thursday. The Phoenix Mercury guard is in Connecticut to face the Sun at 7 p.m. ET Thursday, though she is questionable to play with a left toe injury.

And while the 41-year-old Taurasi is nearing the end of her WNBA career, she is keeping her eye on Bueckers and the next generation of stars.

“With who’s going 1 or 2 (in the draft), it’ll be exciting. I’ll be watching very closely,” she said. Bueckers, who will enter the season as a redshirt junior, could declare for the 2024 WNBA Draft, but she also will have two years of eligibility remaining.

UConn will look to capitalize on the return of Bueckers coupled with a healthy Azzi Fudd, who missed much of last season with her own knee injuries. Taurasi, who won three NCAA titles with the Huskies from 2000-04, has high expectations for this year’s squad.

“This team, that hopefully will be healthy going into the season, has a chance to be one of the most exciting teams that we’ve ever seen,” Taurasi said. “As a fan and obviously alumni now, I’m excited to see it.”

The Phoenix Mercury’s playoff streak has come to an end, and now it’s time for the franchise to look to the future. The team’s run of 10 consecutive postseason appearances officially ended with a loss to the Dallas Wings on Sunday, though the outcome was expected for much of the season.

Phoenix lost 10 of 12 games to start the season before parting ways with head coach Vanessa Nygaard in late June. They battled injuries, and All-Star Brittney Griner missed several games on mental health leave stemming from her 10-month detainment in Russia last year. Meanwhile, veteran guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who had a career-best season in 2022-23, has been out on maternity leave.

The cards were stacked against the Mercury from the start, and they couldn’t overcome the bevy of challenges.

Interim head coach Nikki Blue said Sunday that her team would focus on winning their remaining games, despite being out of the playoffs but in the running for the top pick in the draft lottery. She also admitted that the team did not live up to the standard previously set in Phoenix.

After falling to the Atlanta Dream 94-76 on Tuesday, the Mercury have games against Connecticut, Minnesota and Washington before closing their season with two contests against first-place Las Vegas.

“It was a season that was not ideal,” said Blue, who served as an assistant coach before assuming the interim role.

Phoenix has also struggled with off-court issues this season surrounding Diggins-Smith. The six-time WNBA All-Star averaged 19.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game for the Mercury last season after helping them reach the Finals in 2021. But in 2022, Nygaard attempted to downplay rising tensions between her and Diggins-Smith over comments she made around the All-Star Game. And during a game, Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi had to be separated during a heated exchange on the bench.

This year, in early August, Diggins-Smith expressed concerns with how the Mercury have managed her maternity leave. Her comments on social media came in response to a fan who questioned why the Mercury did not wish Diggins-Smith a happy birthday on their social media accounts.

“They’re not gonna acknowledge me this year and it’s OK guys,” Diggins-Smith wrote. “We’re not affiliated unless it’s the checks….per management. I can’t even use the practice facility or any resources.”

Diggins-Smith, who gave birth to her second child earlier this year, later clarified that “resources” includes “massage therapists, chiropractor, chefs, strength and conditioning, and nutritionists.”

The Notre Dame product will be a free agent in 2024, and the recent events make it hard to envision her re-signing with Phoenix.

Meanwhile, future Hall of Famer Diana Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to reach 10,000 career points this season. She is nearing the end of her career, though she has a year left on her contract with Phoenix and remains tight-lipped about a potential retirement.

Taurasi has been the center of Phoenix’s offense since she was drafted by the franchise in 2004. The 41-year-old is being paid $234,936 this season and next, before becoming a free agent in 2025.

The Mercury need to start looking toward the future, especially if they want to capitalize on Griner’s resurgence. She helped Phoenix to a WNBA title in 2014, and the 32-year-old can serve as a centerpiece for several more seasons if the Mercury surround her with talent.

Phoenix will be one of four teams in the lottery with a chance at earning the rights to the top draft pick in 2024, where they could select Caitlin Clark, Paige Bueckers, Cameron Brink, Angel Reese or another top college prospect. Despite being at the top of mock draft boards, all four players could come back for a fifth season due to an eligibility rule stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled their freshman seasons.

But before Phoenix turns to the draft, the organization needs to decide if Blue is the coach for the job. The former UCLA player was an assistant coach for four college programs between 2008 and 2022 before joining the Mercury staff last season.

“I hope that they’ve seen the transition that our team has made in the time that I’ve been head coach,” Blue told reporters on Sunday. “Once we get a full roster, I would like to see what we can do with that.”

Phoenix has gone 7-16 since Blue took over.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Brittney Griner came to celebrate Diana Taurasi’s 10,000-point milestone Thursday even as she takes time away from WNBA competition to take care of her mental health.

Griner donned Taurasi’s No. 3 jersey and cheered on her Phoenix Mercury teammate as Taurasi became the first player to reach 10,000 career points with a monster 42-point performance. After the game, Griner could be seen dancing behind Taurasi and mouthing, “That’s 10,000 points!” while her teammate was being interviewed.

Of course, Griner has joked with Taurasi before. Back in April, she poked fun at Taurasi’s age in her first press conference since returning from her unlawful detention in Russia in 2022. Griner, 32, and Taurasi, 41, have been teammates since the former joined Phoenix as the No. 1 overall pick in 2013.

“Playing with D — who wouldn’t want to play with a walking fossil?” Griner said with a laugh. “Ha, she’s gonna kill me. No, I’m just so glad. I was really worried. Legit, I was worried. I thought she was gonna retire on me, or I was going to miss it, and that, honestly, was killing me knowing that was a possibility.”

Griner’s exuberance in celebrating Taurasi’s milestone was a wonderful show of support by the nine-time All-Star. Griner has been putting up big performances this season herself, but she has missed the Mercury’s last three games to focus on her mental health.

The Mercury are committed to working with Griner on a timeline for her return, the team said Saturday.

Diana Taurasi became the first WNBA player to reach 10,000 career points Thursday night. And then she kept going.

The 41-year-old guard finished with 42 points in the Phoenix Mercury’s 91-71 win over the Atlanta Dream, a career high for points scored in regulation. With her first 40-point game since 2010, she also became the oldest WNBA player to drop 40-plus points.

Yet even after her milestone night, the latest in a long long of broken records for Taurasi, she kept her accomplishments in perspective. Eventually, someone, someday will take her place.

“I think it is just pushing the limits,” she said after the game. “I said it earlier – when you love something and you are passionate about something, you push the limits. It is not my record. It is not my number. It’s going to be a number that will be broken at one point by someone that loves basketball as much as I did and is willing to give up moments that you take for granted for moments that are legendary.”

For now, though, she’s going to enjoy the moment, particularly as she reflects on the journey that got her here.

“I wouldn’t change a thing. Every moment led to another moment,” she said. “It started in my driveway. It really did. It was just innocent. It was naive. There was no goal. There was no plan. There was no speaking English. It was just a kid who liked to play basketball in her front yard.

“Sometimes you forget that it is supposed to be fun. As the years have gone by, I have to keep reminding myself that when you do something you love, it is not your job. It is not work. It is just your passion.”

Mercury interim head coach Nikki Blue shared in the moment. Blue, 39, has known Taurasi since their AAU basketball days, and she found herself in awe when Taurasi hit the 10,000-point shot.

“I told her that I was proud of her. It’s funny because she is older than me, but we’ve known each other since 16-years-old playing AAU basketball together,” Blue said. “To see her growth and to dominate this sport and to represent the way that she does — it’s not about me, but it was special for me to be able to witness that and to coach her tonight. I thanked her and told her I was proud of her. She was amazing tonight.”

After all, Taurasi didn’t just pass the milestone. She dominated, turning in a vintage Diana Taurasi performance.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before. For her to show that she’s still at the top of her game, it was really a sight to see,” Blue said. “Just to be able to witness this tonight was truly special and only the way the Diana Taurasi could do it. Forty-two points at 41-years-old? You guys! We have never seen anything like this. It was so much fun.”

Diana Taurasi sees herself riding off into the sunset upon her eventual retirement from the WNBA.

When asked if she would transition into coaching after the end of her playing career, the 41-year-old guard was firm about her future.

“Coach? No, no, no, no. Not coaching this generation, nope, nope, nope,” she said. “I am transitioning more into like, living on an island with a lot of coffee.”

As Taurasi closes in on the 10,000 point milestone (9,881) in her 19th WNBA season, she also is closing in on the end of her career. Her contract runs through 2025, with Taurasi inking a multi-year extension in February. But the 10-time All-Star and former league MVP knows her time is coming to join the likes of Sylvia Fowles and Sue Bird, both of whom retired after the 2022 season.

“Probably not much longer,” she said of her time remaining in the league. “All good stories come to an end. It’s about wrapping up.”

But while Bird has remained close to the WNBA – including sitting courtside at Wednesday’s Mercury game – Taurasi doesn’t envision that for herself.

“I probably won’t be around much,” she said.

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