Well, it’s certainly been a wild six months for Natisha Hiedeman.
Marquette Golden Eagles women’s basketball’s #3 all-time scorer went from WNBA draft pick to WNBA training camp participant to out of the league to on a regular season roster to released to on a different roster, and now this.
Hiedeman has already become the first Marquette player to ever reach the WNBA, as well as the first to ever appear in the WNBA playoffs. Now, if head coach Curt Miller puts her in, at some point soon, she’ll become the first Golden Eagle to appear in the WNBA Finals.
All in just six months. That’s wild.
As for the 30,000 feet view of the series, it’s exactly what you could have wanted if you were running the WNBA. It’s the two best teams in the league facing off for the title. The Washington Mystics were the best team in the WNBA in 2019, finishing with a record of 26-8. The Connecticut Sun, Hiedeman’s team, was the second best squad with a record of 23-11.
Connecticut actually won the season series between the two sides with a record of 2-1. A few things have to be said about that, though. First, all three meetings happened between May 25, the season opener for the Sun, and June 29. Second, both sides won when the game was at home for them, and Washington will have home court advantage in the series. Third, two of the games were lopsided. Connecticut won on opening night, 84-69, while Washington won in late June — and this is not a typo, I swear — by a score of 102-59. The Mystics were up 14 at the end of the first quarter, and 26 at halftime, and it just kept getting worse.
That one-sided asskicking in Washington was the last time these two teams met. That was also in the middle of a five game losing streak for Connecticut, and they would turn around and win their next seven in a row.
Washington is led by 2019 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, who averages 19.5 points (team high), 8.3 rebounds (team high), 2.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. Is it possible that the 6’5” Delaware native is actually underrated? All told, five Mystics players average in double digits in scoring, but it was Emma Messeman that was exploding for Washington in the semifinals. She had games of 22, 30, and 27 points in Washington’s four game set against Las Vegas, and if there’s one thing that makes Delle Donne better, it’s defenses having to do literally anything other than focus on her.
While Jonquel Jones was the centerpiece for Connecticut in the regular season, it was Courtney Williams leading the way in the playoffs. In the three game sweep of Los Angeles, Williams led the Sun with 19.0 points per game, and her 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists are nothing to sneeze at. Jones and Jasmine Thomas both averaged over 15 points per game as the Sun blew the doors off of the Sparks in games #2 and #3. Hiedeman didn’t play in game #1, but she averaged eight minutes per contest in the next two, and had and eight point, two rebound, one assist explosion of sorts in the series clinching win. She shot 46.4% from long range in the regular season and knocked down two of her three attempts in the playoffs.
2019 WNBA Finals
#1 Washington Mystics vs #2 Connecticut Sun
Date: Sunday, September 29, 2019
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Entertainment & Sports Arena, Washington, D.C.