The opener of the WNBA playoff series between the Seattle Storm and the Minnesota Lynx was postponed nearly 90 minutes before its scheduled tipoff Sunday because of inconclusive COVID-19 test results for Storm players.
The players with inconclusive results have undergone additional testing and are in isolation, according to the WNBA.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert was at the hotel when she found out about the inconclusive results and boarded the Storm’s bus to let them know.
“We needed more testing and data,” Engelbert said in a TV interview. “As soon as I talked to them they were concerned about health and safety, and it wasn’t about basketball at that point.”
The Lynx already had arrived at the arena and some of the players had been warming up when they were told the game was postponed.
“This is the hardest part of COVID-19 of putting on live sports,” Engelbert said. “Every day you’re reset to zero. Keeping the bubble safe and making sure there’s no community spread. The purpose of testing program and protocols is to pull anyone out before they are infectious.”
WATCH | Lynx outlast Mercury to earn semifinal berth:
The league didn’t immediately announce when Game 1 of the best-of-five series would be played. Game 2 was scheduled for Tuesday night.
“We want to make sure we have all the data and testing if someone is affected with COVID,” Engelbert said. “We can isolate them and take care of their safety. Hopefully we’ll get good data over the next 24 to 48 hours. Hopefully get back on the court for Game 1 on Tuesday. We will test them tonight and have additional testing on those players that had inconclusive results.”
The WNBA made it through the regular season with a few false positive tests for the coronavirus, but no players developed COVID-19 once the season started. The season is being played inside a bubble environment at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Everyone inside the bubble has been tested for the virus every day.
“You have to follow your gut and instinct and data and science,” Engelbert said. “Everything has worked in the bubble because we followed the science. We had players miss games in the regular season. This was the right thing to do today.”
Jasmine Thomas’ 31 points pace Sun
Jasmine Thomas had a career-high 31 points, Alyssa Thomas scored 18, and the Connecticut Sun pulled away early and cruised to an 87-62 win over the Las Vegas Aces in Game of 1 of the best-of-five WNBA semifinals.
Alyssa Thomas had six rebounds, five assists, five steals and two blocks. Natisha Hiedeman made 4 of 4 from 3-point range and finished with 14 points for Connecticut.
WATCH | Thomas leads Sun to series-opening victory:
The seventh-seeded Sun lost their first five games, and six of seven, but rebounded to make the playoffs. They beat No. 6 seed Chicago and third-seeded Los Angeles in the first two rounds of the post-season.
A’ja Wilson led top-seeded Las Vegas with 19 points and Jackie Young scored 16.
Beatrice Mompremier made a layup to make it 12-10 and the Sun led the rest of the way. A 3-pointer by Jasmine Thomas gave Connecticut a 13-point lead with 1:28 left in the first half and the Aces trailed by double figures the rest of the way. She made a layup with 6:30 to in the third quarter give her 29 points and Las Vegas 29.
Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday night.
The WNBA announced earlier Sunday that Las Vegas’ Dearica Hamby won the sixth woman of the year award and Aces general manager Dan Padover was given the executive of the year award.
.<a href=”https://twitter.com/dearicamarie?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@dearicamarie</a> earned back-to-back Sixth Woman of the Year honors after averaging 13.0 PPG and 7.1 RPG 💥<br><br>Tune in to <a href=”https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@espn</a> at 1pm/et as Dearica and the <a href=”https://twitter.com/LVAces?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@LVAces</a> take on the <a href=”https://twitter.com/ConnecticutSun?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ConnecticutSun</a> for Game 1 of the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ATTPlayoffs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ATTPlayoffs</a> Semifinals! <a href=”https://t.co/doSxGQ7UW1″>pic.twitter.com/doSxGQ7UW1</a>