While there is attention in Orlando inside the NBA Campus about 150 miles southwest of Orlando is Brandenton, Florida. The IMG Academy is hosting the WNBA’s version of a campus and successfully has tipped off their 2020 season on Saturday.
Storm too much for Sabrina Ionescu WNBA debut in 87-71 victory
The first game featured the New York Liberty as the home team hosting the Seattle Storm. The game would feature two special scenarios as the Liberty’s number one pick, Sabrina Ionescu made her WNBA debut. The Storm welcomed back Breanna Stewart, who returned from a torn Achilles injury.
The Storm comes out victorious on opening day with an 87-71 victory. Ionescu finished with 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting in her debut game. Stewart finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and shot 50-percent from the field. The Storm held the Liberty to 34-percent shooting from the field (and a miserable 21-percent from the three-point line. Layshia Clarendon led the Liberty with 20 points and only one of three Liberty players scoring double figures.
Sparks dominate Mercury 99-76
The Phoenix Mercury welcomed a new familiar face to their roster this season by signing Skylar Diggins-Smith. The well-known guard joins Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner in Phoenix to help the Mercury regain contender status. The Mercury finished 8th last season and easily bounced in the first round of the 2019 playoffs without Taruasi.
A poor second-half from Phoenix caused opening day to spiral out of control. The Mercury were outscored 30-8 in the third quarter and ran out of time to regain any chance at a comeback victory. The Sparks had a good balanced offensive attack with six players scoring in double figures.
Nneka Ogwumike led the way for the Sparks scoring 21 points and perfect from the field connecting on all 10 shots, two of them from three-point range. Diggins-Smith would finish with 14 points and 6 assists on 62-percent shooting in her Mercury debut.
Mystics flex why they are the defending champs with 101-76 win
The Mystics enter the season as the defending champs and playing without Elena Delle Donne. Saturday’s season opener didn’t phase the 2019 champs as they dominated the Indiana Fever.
Washington held the Fever to only nine points in the second and fourth quarter. Myisha Hines-Allen poured in 27 points and 10 rebounds on 65-percent shooting from the field for the Mystics. Four other Mystics were able to score double figures and chip in on the scoring outburst.
Delle Donne’s absence will continue on the season as the league refused to grant her a medical exemption to sit out the 2020 season for her COVID-19 related concerns because of her underlying health condition of Lyme disease.
The Mystics will also be without Point guard Natasha Cloud will be sitting out this season to work on social justice reform and Tina Charles is also seeking a medical exemption. LaToya Sanders is also sitting out due to health concerns.