Lynx Bounce Back

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Candice Wiggins

Nicky Anosike

When forward Seimone Augustus went down with an injury last week, Candice Wiggins knew she would have to step up and help ease the transition without her.

With Augustus sitting courtside to support her teammates in their first game at the Target Center since her injury last Wednesday, Wiggins did her best to make the Lynx faithful temporarily forget about their Olympian.

When the Liberty opened the second half on a 9-0 run to trim the 11-point halftime lead to two, Wiggins made sure the Lynx would earn the win.

She finished with 25 points and helped spark a 21-4 run to close the third quarter that gave Minnesota all the breathing room it needed in a 69-57 win over New York.

“I think it was important for us to set the tone defensively and me, personally to set the tone hitting shots and being a good leader for our team,” Wiggins said. “I think we did a good job playing team basketball. That’s the kind of Lynx basketball I think we’re capable of playing every game. And if we do that, we’re such a great team that it’s going to be tough to stop that.”

Wiggins, who sat out the entire fourth quarter, was two points shy of her career high of 27 points set against Houston last July. She also added five assists.

She helped the Lynx (5-3) get off to a hot start with 12 points in the opening quarter. Minnesota shot 50 percent in the first to take an early nine-point advantage.

The Lynx grew their lead in the second thanks to a strong team defensive effort. Minnesota held New York (2-4) to 31.3 percent shooting the first half and 35.1 percent for the game, scoring 21 points off New York’s 20 turnovers for the game.

It helped them build as big as a 13-point lead and take a 38-27 lead to the locker room.

“I think we’ve been noticing we’re putting too much emphasis on offense and we need to realize what got us those wins in the beginning and I think we know that was defense,” center Nicky Anosike said. “And we came out and tried to focus on that. Everything else fell into place.”

The Liberty did not go down quietly though. New York came out with renewed energy and cut the lead to two and had numerous chances to tie the game midway through the third.

It took Minnesota nearly half the third quarter to score its first points of the second half, when Anosike drove the ball from the elbow, hit a layup and drew a foul. From there it seemed the confidence started to snowball as the Lynx rebuild their lead.

“We knew they were going to come out of that locker room and come at us and I just told them we have to keep our composure,” Gillom said. “They’re going to make their run. All teams do. I thought once they made their run and we settled down, then we picked up on the defense and that made them fold. I think that’s going to be our key from now on.”

Wiggins scored seven in the third quarter run, driving into the paint and freeing up shots for Kelly Miller and Roneeka Hodges beyond the 3-point arc. Minnesota finished shooting 10 of 23 from beyond the arc as they took a comfortable 19-point lead into the fourth.

The Lynx opened up as much as a 23-point lead as they continued to pour it on against the Liberty in the fourth quarter.

Guard Roneeka Hodges added 10 points and five rebounds, rookie Renee Montgomery had seven points off the bench and center Nicky Anosike scored six points to go with six rebounds and five steals.

Shameka Christon led New York with 25 points and hit six 3-pointers in the game, but was the only player on her team to score more than six.

Gillom said this was a much-needed win to help rebuild the team’s confidence that it can play and win without Augustus.

“I think this is a crucial moment for us,” Gillom said. “We needed all the motivation we could get, whether through Seimone or whether it’s through good play. We needed this win tonight to get this start and help these girls believe we are a good team. But when we play as a team, we can be a good team and we don’t have to rely on one or two players.”

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