We made a big deal over the summer as Natisha Hiedeman became Marquette women’s basketball’s first ever player to reach the WNBA first on a regular season contract, then making her first appearance in a game on her second stop in the league. It’s the postseason now, and Hiedeman finds herself playing for a championship contender.
The Connecticut Sun, the team that acquired Hiedeman on a draft day trade, released her before the regular season started, and then signed her after she was released by Atlanta, are the #2 seed in the 2019 WNBA playoffs. That earned them a bye into the semifinals, which start tonight, Tuesday, September 17th. They’ll be hosting the Los Angeles Sparks for both Game #1 and #2 of a best-of-five series to see who advances to the WNBA Finals.
Hiedeman appeared in 20 games for the Sun after being claimed off waivers in early July. She averages 10.3 minutes off the bench, which means regular rotation minutes for a rookie on a title contender. That’s wild. She’s chipping in 3.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game and is shooting an absolutely ridiculous 46.4% from behind the three-point line.
As the Sun went 23-11 this season, they were led by Jonquel Jones. The 6’6” forward/center averaged 14.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game while starting all 34 games for Connecticut. They have three more women averaging at least 11 points per game, which gives head coach Curt Miller a lot of options to work with.
As luck would have it, the #3 and #4 seeds in the playoffs won their single elimination games to advance, thus sending Los Angeles against Connecticut as the lowest remaining seed — Las Vegas Aces — gets matched up against the Washington Mystics, the best team in the WNBA this year with a regular season record of 26-8. Los Angeles finished just a game behind Connecticut at 22-12 this season. The Sparks won the season series with the Sun with a record of 2-1, but both sides won their home games.
Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks in scoring this season at 16.1 points per game, but like the Sun, they had three more players averaging in double digits. Ogwumike’s sister, Chiney Ogwumike, also plays for the Sparks, giving Los Angeles a combined punch of 25.7 points, 14.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.9 steals per game between the two of them.
Oh, and Candace Parker plays for the Sparks. Rumor has it that she’s pretty good.
2019 WNBA SEMIFINALS
#2 Connecticut Sun vs #3 Los Angeles Sparks
Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Time: 5:30pm Central
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT