Rhyne Howard is immediately living up to her star billing and the No. 1 overall pick looks to post another big outing Tuesday when the Atlanta Dream face the Indiana Fever in the second game of a back-to-back set in Indianapolis.
Howard scored a WNBA season-high 33 points Sunday when the Dream (3-1) recorded an 85-79 victory over Indiana. The three-time first-team All-American guard at Kentucky set the tone by pouring in a WNBA rookie record 17 first-quarter points.
“I didn’t even know she had 33,” Dream coach Tanisha Wright said of Howard. “We knew in getting Rhyne, she’s someone who can shoot the ball.”
Howard was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, becoming the first rookie to win the award in the first week of their career since Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings in 2002.
Through four games, Howard ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 20.8 points.
“I’m super comfortable. (The Dream) got me for a reason,” Howard said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I have to come out, make an impact and help us get a team win. I’m not surprised, and I feel great. There’s no reason to be surprised.”
Sunday’s matchup was the first against each other as pros for Howard and No. 2 overall pick NaLyssa Smith of Indiana (2-3).
Smith had a season-best 18 points to go along with six rebounds but sustained a sprained right ankle with 6 1/2 minutes to play.
“It’s swollen,” Indiana coach Marianne Stanley said afterward of Smith’s ankle. “But I don’t know how serious it is right now.”
Smith, a forward from Baylor, is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds through five games. She grabbed 17 rebounds in one contest and 13 in another and has scored in double figures four times.
The Fever is getting strong play from guard Kelsey Mitchell, who ranks third in the WNBA at 22 points per game. Mitchell scored a season-high 27 on Sunday for her third successive 20-point outing.
–Field Level Media