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Duke in the WNBA: Lexie Brown's career-high, Chelsea Gray's clutch three highlight second week of action

Chelsea Gray willed the Los Angeles Sparks to two wins this past week with an array of clutch fourth-quarter shots
Chelsea Gray willed the Los Angeles Sparks to two wins this past week with an array of clutch fourth-quarter shots

Each week, the Blue Zone takes a look at the seven former Blue Devils currently playing across four WNBA teams this season. This week we take you inside Lexie Brown's scoring outburst, Chelsea Gray's late-game heroics and Jasmine Thomas' defensive dominance.

Lexie Brown and Karima Christmas-Kelly, Minnesota Lynx

On the first day of June, the Minnesota Lynx continued their strong opening to the 2019 season. Former Blue Devil Lexie Brown made a pair of threes to finish with six points, a rebound and an assist in the 70-67 win against the Dallas Wings. Brown played 14 minutes in the victory. 

Three days later, Brown and her Lynx team were back in action, but were unable to continue their winning ways against the Seattle Storm. For the second consecutive game, Brown drain two 3-pointers, also adding an assist, a rebound and another basket to finish with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting. In her first and only game to date, Karima Christmas-Kelly made one shot and drained her only free throw for three points. The Lynx forward also assisted on two made field goals.

On June 6, Minnesota returned home to the Target Center and inched past the Phoenix Mercury 58-56. Off the bench, Brown set a new career high with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting. The former Duke standout converted three triples and picked up two assists, two rebounds and a steal.

That career-high was short-lived, as Brown demolished her previous mark only two days later. The former Blue Devil led the Lynx in scoring in an 85-89 defeat to the Los Angeles Sparks. Brown made five of the team’s seven 3-pointers and added another basket to finish with 21 points. The Minnesota guard also went 4-for-6 from the charity stripe to go along with a rebound and a steal.

For the Saturday afternoon contest, Brown wore a custom pair of Duke Nike Kobe AD basketball sneakers as she recorded her best performance to date.

Upcoming: June 12 at New York Liberty; June 14 vs. Connecticut Sun

Alana Beard and Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks

In her third game of the season June 4, Chelsea Gray notched a career-best 29 points on 10-for-20 shooting to lead her team past the New York Liberty 78-73. The former Blue Devils recorded four assists, including the 500th of her career. Down by three with 2:32 remaining, Gray knocked down a 3-pointer to even the game before she hit a layup on the next possession to put her team ahead for good. She then made another triple and four free throws in the final 81 seconds to maintain the Sparks' lead.

Two nights later, Gray only made one of her six shots in a 77-89 loss to the Connecticut Sun. But the Sparks’ lead guard assisted on a season-high six baskets to accompany a steal and a rebound. The two-time WNBA All-Star also knocked down her only two free throws in 32 minutes.

After she took over the game against the Liberty earlier in the week, Gray replicated her fourth-quarter performance to help the Sparks knock off the Lynx 89-85 during the June 8 Saturday afternoon game. The Hayward, Calif. native put Los Angeles up four with a fadeaway shot off the inbounds pass with only 8.5 seconds left. In 31 minutes, Gray shot 8-for-12 and recorded four assists as well as three rebounds in the victory. Alana Beard did not play in any of the three games this week.

Upcoming: June 14 at Phoenix Mercury; June 15 vs. New York Liberty

Jasmine Thomas, Connecticut Sun

On June 2, the Connecticut Sun traveled to Las Vegas and defeated the Aces 80-74. Jasmine Thomas’ only two field goals came from behind the arc. The former Blue Devil registered five assists and three steals to go along with a defensive rebound.

After traveling back across the country, Thomas’ team hosted the Sparks June 6 and recorded their fourth victory in five games. On 7-of-13 shooting, Thomas scored a season-high 17 points and knocked down a triple in the 89-77. The former Duke guard also had a season-high six steals, two of which came in the final 25.7 seconds—both resulting in breakaway layups. Thomas also finished with three assists in 30 minutes.

Connecticut was back in action June 9 to take on the Atlanta Dream. The Sun came away with the 65-59 road victory behind the former Blue Devil’s magnificent all-around performance. The Connecticut starting point guard recorded six assists and three steals in the Sunday afternoon game. Thomas also scored nine points and had four rebounds in 30 minutes of play.

Upcoming: June 11 vs. Washington Mystics; June 14 at Minnesota Lynx

Elizabeth Williams and Haley Peters, Atlanta Dream

The Atlanta Dream have not gotten out to a start reminiscent of last year’s Eastern Conference regular season crown. On the first day of June, the Washington Mystics led by 30 after three quarters before blowing out the Dream 96-75. Elizabeth Williams, the former Duke standout, played 25 minutes and converted two of her seven shots to go along with a pair of free throws for six points. The Dream’s starting center finished with five rebounds. Haley Peters played three minutes and did not score.

In their next matchup June 6, Atlanta was blown out 69-92 at home by the Las Vegas aces. Williams repeated her previous scoring output with six points,  adding five rebounds. The 6-foot-3 center added two steals and a pair of blocks in 24 minutes. Coming off the bench, Peters saw action for the third time this season and recorded her first rebound. Peters also blocked her first shot of the year, but did not make either of her two field goal attempts.

In a low-scoring 59-65 defeat to Connecticut, Williams brought down seven boards, four of which came on the offensive end. The 2016 WNBA Most Improved Player scored seven points and finished with an assist. On the defensive end, Williams blocked two shots and stole the ball once in 26 minutes. Peters did not enter the Sunday afternoon contest.

Upcoming: June 15 at Dallas Wings


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