By Philip Rossman-Reich
Scouting Report - Lynx (3-1) at Monarchs (1-3) 9PM
The Monarchs opened their season with two 10-point losses to Seattle before breaking through against Phoenix on Friday. Sacramento got 19 points from Nicole Powell in the team's 90-71 victory. But the success was short lived as the Mercury came home and ran past the Monarchs in a 115-104 overtime shootout Saturday. The 1-3 start is not quite what Sacramento was looking for after going 18-16 and earning the team's sixth consecutive playoff berth last season.
Powell has paced the Monarchs with a team-best 17.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-2 forward led the team in scoring last year with 13.6 per game and increased her point production by more than four points per game to 18.0 during the Monarchs' playoff appearance. Powell has shown she is a more than capable scoring -- she also scored 17.0 per game for Fenerbahce of Turkey in helping them to their league championship this offseason. She scored a career-high 29 points against the Lynx back in July of 2007. Powell has had to pick up her scoring pace thanks to an early-season injury to point Ticha Penicheiro, who injured her thumb last Saturday against Seattle.
The Monarchs feature a balanced offensive attack that can score points in bunches. Sacramento trailed by 16 points with eight minutes left in regulation Saturday, but Powell led a 3-point barrage that helped the team force overtime. The Monarchs made 10 of their 18 3-point attempts in against the Mercury and are shooting 43.6 percent from beyond the arc this season. That's good enough for third in the league, behind the Sky and the Lynx. Sacramento is also third in points per game, scoring 84.3 per contest.
The team's defense is another story though. That is where losing Pinecheiro has probably hurt the most. The Monarchs sit last in the WNBA in points allowed per game, giving up 84.3 per contest, and 11th in field goal percentage, allowing teams to shoot 45.7 percent. The Lynx have not fared much better in giving up 46.9 percent shooting to their opponents.
Minnesota has found a way to outscore its opponents in winning three of the team's first four. And it could be another one of those high-scoring games Tuesday in Sacramento. Seimone Augustus has played well this season, entering the contest averaging 21.8 points per game. Minnesota will need another similar scoring effort from her. In the Lynx's loss to the Storm on Friday, the team struggled to make shots while allowing the Storm to shoot better than 50 percent. Another poor shooting performance could be trouble if Minnesota wants to start this three-game road trip with a win.
Keys To A Win For Minnesota:
--Score in transition
--Control the glass
--Chase shooters off the 3-point line
--Attack the basket
Matchup To Watch:
Nicole Powell vs. Seimone Augustus
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