Ann Wauters had 14 points and seven rebounds to help the Seattle Storm beat the Washington Mystics 72-55 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory after a 1-7 start. Sue Bird added 14 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Storm (5-7). Crystal Langhorne led Washington (2-8) with 21 points. Matee Ajavon added 11, and Noelle Quinn had 10. Seattle never trailed again after Bird hit a free throw to put the Storm up 10-9 with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter. Bird threw a no-look pass in the fourth quarter that a rolling Ewelina Kobryn put in while being fouled. Kobryn's made free throw put the Storm in front 64-46 and ended doubt about the result. Bird hit a jumper to close the third quarter and push Seattle in front 52-37. The Mystics' 17 third-quarter points almost matched their 20-point output in the first half. But, it still wasn't enough to get back into the game. Seattle led 31-20 at the half after an efficient second quarter during which it shot 54.5 percent. Washington's 20 points were the fewest Seattle allowed in a half this season. The Mystics scored just nine points in the second period, shooting 4 for 19 from the field. The Storm played zone for a portion of the quarter, which forced the Mystics' offense to become stagnant. Washington shot several deep jump shots with little time remaining on the shot clock. A 3-pointer from Bird and a layup by Camille Little pushed the Storm in front 28-18 in the second quarter, forcing a Washington timeout. Seattle called a timeout with 6:17 left in the first quarter to discuss the dysfunction that led to an early 7-2 lead for the Mystics. A 13-2 Storm run followed. Wauters hit a jumper, Little drove and scored, and Bird hit a 3-pointer. The blitz continued when Tina Thompson scored in the lane and rookie Shekinna Stricklen hit a jumper. Washington stopped the onslaught with a jumper from Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton. Seattle led 15-11 at the end of the first quarter. Former Storm player Ashley Robinson returned to Seattle for the first time since being traded to Washington in the offseason. Robinson received a nice ovation when she checked in with 6:45 remaining in the second quarter and scored two points in just four minutes on the floor.
The AHL spotlight was on the Hershey Bears on Saturday as they hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the Outdoor Classic at Hersheypark Stadium
The outcome of the game was not what the team had hoped as the Bears fell 5-2. Even with the loss, however, the event itself was still an incredible experience for all involved.
“Any time you get to do those type of things outside it's special, especially when you get to that day,” head coach Troy Mann told NBC Sports Washington. “This is my third so I was just real excited for the first-timers because it's a very unique experience and not every player gets to experience it. I was pretty elated that it was a good chunk of our roster that it was their first time. We got to practice outside twice and morning skate plus the game. Everybody enjoyed it.”
For Nathan Walker, the outdoor game was just another “first” for the young Aussie in a hockey season that has already seen him play his first career NHL game, get claimed off waivers by Edmonton, get reclaimed by Washington and is now in Hershey.
“It’s been unreal,” Nathan Walker said. “I’ve never been in anything like this. It was really special, and it’s something that I’ll definitely take to the memory bank, for sure.”
Walker and Travis Boyd scored Hershey’s two goals.
Other prospect notes:
- Nathan Walker’s goal in the Outdoor Classic was his first of the season. He has five points in nine games since he was sent to the AHL by Washington.
- You had to feel for Colby Williams who missed the Outdoor Classic as he served the last of a three-game suspension for a hit he delivered to Lehigh Valley’s Danick Martel. "Disappointment would be a big word for me," Williams said. "It could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me." Martel suffered a broken jaw on the hit. Williams told Chocolate Hockey that he had exchanged messages with Martel to express his remorse over causing him a significant injury.
- Ilya Samsonov could be heading to the Olympics. The Russian Hockey Federation gave the IOC a list of 47 players and the IOC returned that list to them on Monday with 42 approved players from which the federation could choose from to build a team for the Pyeongchang Olympics. Samsonov was among the 42 players approved by the IOC. While the country of Russia has been banned from the Olympics, the country is still allowed to send a team to compete as Olympic Athletes from Russia. Among the 42 approved players are six total goalies which will eventually be whittled down to three. The final roster is expected to be released on Thursday.
Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 24, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.
—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 41
—NFL Draft (4/26) 92
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 228
Fan questions—Surprise cuts, finding a playmaker
I put out a call for questions on social media and I got so many good ones that I’m splitting them up. Here are Facebook questions today and I’ll hit the best Twitter questions later this week.
Spencer Long could be gone but he is a free agent, so he could not be cut. As far as players under contract, a lot will depend on who they draft and sign in free agency. If they go heavy on the defensive line, Ziggy Hood and Terrell McClain could be in danger of being cut. An influx of defensive back might have Josh Holsey and Deshazor Everett headed out of town.
There won’t be any cuts that save a major amount of cap space. The players with the top 15 cap numbers per Over the Cap are all vital to the operation with the possible aforementioned exception of McClain.
The rub is that if you want an instant “bona fide” playmaker you are going to have to invest either a lot of cap dollars or high draft pick. They have invested cap dollars in Reed and, to a lesser extent, Thompson and a No. 1 draft pick in Reed. The plan needs to be to make sure that Reed stays healthy (as best you can) and hope you get 12-14 productive games out of him, get Thompson back in the swing of things, and continue to work with Doctson. Perhaps they can get a mid-round find like the Saints did with Kamara to add to the mix. But for the most part, the Redskins will have to make do with what they have.
The way things stand right now, I’m seeing Vea regarded as more of a late first-round pick than a player who should go in the top half of the round. That could change as the draft process goes on. I think the Redskins need to continue to strengthen their defensive line, and if Vea moves up to a high first-round grade or slides to a second, they should take a long look at him.
The player I’m keeping my eye on is Jordan Matthews, who spent three years with the Eagles before being traded to Buffalo. He had over 800 yards receiving in each of his three seasons in Philly before a knee injury hampered him last year. He’s 6-3 and still young (26 in Week 1). Sammy Watkins of the Rams is intriguing but he had just 593 receiving yards in 15 games in Sean McVay’s very productive offense. An older but less expensive option might be Eric Decker of the Titans, who had just 30 fewer receiving yards than Watkins and would be much a much less expensive acquisition albeit as a stopgap.
I see them addressing other needs in the first round. That could change if there is someone there who is just too good to pass up.
Tandler on Twitter
In case you missed it
- No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants more
- Redskins started talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms
- 1-on-1 interviews with Josh Allen, Mason Rudolph and other rookie QBs
- Mason Rudolph would love to play QB for the Redskins
- Vikings QB decisions will be watched closely by the Redskins
- Will Zach Brown stay with the Redskins or go?