WNBA news: Stefanie Dolson star turn for Washington Mystics, Iowa reunion in Las Vegas, and Azura Stevens debut imminent

Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It would be an understatement to simply say that this WNBA season has been a struggle for the Washington Mystics. Just five years removed from winning a championship, the Mystics find themselves near the bottom of the league standings halfway through this season with a 4-15 record.

Two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne decided to sit out this year after not signing the contract the Mystics offered her, and other players expected to be key contributors have missed time with injuries. Shakira Austin (hip) was out for all of June, Brittney Sykes (foot) has only played three games, and Karlie Samuelson (hand) is expected to miss all of July.

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The Mystics rank last or second-to-last in the league in rebounding (32 boards per game), points allowed per scoring attempt (1.11), and 2-point shooting percentage (47.3). But beneath all the headaches and heartache for Washington, starting center Stefanie Dolson is quietly having one of the greatest 3-point shooting seasons in WNBA history.

Dolson, 32, is shooting 50% from 3-point land this season, making a career-high 2.3 shots from behind the arc per game. Not only does the UConn product in her 11th year lead the WNBA in 3-point shooting percentage this season, but it’s also the sixth-best single-season mark for any player in the history of the league, according to Basketball Reference.

What’s more, all the players who rank ahead of Dolson on that list – Temeka Johnson, Laurie Koehn, Alysha Clark, and Jennifer Azzi – are all guards. One could easily make the argument that the WNBA veteran is having the greatest shooting season of all time for a post player.

“Everybody knows she can shoot, so we’re just trying to find some new ways to free her up a little bit,” Mystics coach Eric Thibault said Saturday. “She’s obviously in a good rhythm. I try not to say too much to her. It’s like a baseball hitter on a hot streak – you just don’t say much and keep it moving.”

The 6-foot-5 Dolson has always been a decent shooter. At UConn, she made 32.7 percent of her looks from behind the arc while helping the Huskies win a pair of national titles. But Dolson never made 3-pointers in this sort of volume with this much regularity until this season.

Consider that, as a rookie with Washington in 2014, Dolson attempted just three 3-pointers in 34 games. Through 19 games this season, she’s attempted 88 deep shots. Her previous single-season high was 83 in 34 starts with the Chicago Sky in 2019.

“Just drawing my defender out as much as I can. That opens up the lane for Aaliyah (Edwards) to get downhill,” Dolson said after scoring a team-high 23 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range in a loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday. “So, you know, hopefully, I just keep shooting with confidence and hopefully they keep going in.”

The Washington Mystics are going to need Dolson’s shots to keep going in if they expect to be competitive at all in the second half of the season.

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Iowa supporters becoming WNBA fans?

Credit: Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

The trend of Iowa fans filling up women’s basketball venues has continued into the WNBA season. And not just for Clark’s Indiana Fever. Kate Martin – drafted in the second round by the Las Vegas Aces – has noticed Iowa fans in the crowd for her games too.

“I just think Iowa fans travel really well. There’s Iowa fans all over the country,” Martin said Monday while wearing a Hawkeye Nation T-shirt. “We saw that a lot last year at any away game we would go to.”

“… That’s unheard of. You might hear that at UConn or something, but you don’t really see that at Iowa as much. It’s super special and it’s a testament to what Coach (Lisa) Bluder built.”

Michelob Ultra Arena, home of the Aces, is sure to be full of Hawkeyes on Tuesday night as Clark and the Fever take on Martin and her Aces.

Angel Reese’s Record

While Caitlin Clark has garnered a lot of praise for her accomplishments as a rookie, Angel Reese is impressing and making history too. In a loss to the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday, the sixth overall pick out of LSU finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds, marking her 10th consecutive double-double, which breaks the WNBA single-season record set by Candace Parker in 2015. Reese leads the league in rebounding with 11.4 boards per game.

Azura Stevens to debut soon

Azura Stevens told the Long Beach Press-Telegram on Monday that she is fully practicing with the Los Angeles Sparks and will make her season debut before the WNBA’s break for the Olympics. Stevens, 28, started in 29 of 35 games for the Sparks last year and averaged 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. She hasn’t played yet this season due to a lingering left arm injury.

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