Defense Propels Lynx Past Sky 82-61
Web Editorial Associate
The Minnesota Lynx took the first seven minutes of Tuesday’s game to come up with a lead, but once they found their rhythm, there was no stopping them as they went on to top the Sky 82-61 at the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion.
Monica Wright’s drive to the hoop with 4:01 remaining in the first quarter appeared to be the spark the Lynx needed, as they went on a 14-4 run to finish the first quarter up 20-13. They outscored the Sky 20-12 in the second to take a 40-25 halftime lead on 52.9 percent first-half shooting.
The second half was more of the same, with the Sky never coming within fewer than 10 points.
The Lynx were led by Wright’s 14 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from the floor and 2-of-2 from three-point range. Seimone Augustus added 10 points, and Lindsay Whalen and Jessica Adair finished with nine points each. The Lynx saw numbers from every player on the roster, its bench outscoring the Sky reserves 51-27.
Coach Cheryl Reeve was impressed with Wright’s performance off the bench.
“Last year it was a matter of what [would] happen when she got to the rim,” said Reeve. “This year, not only is she finishing with a proper lay-up, she’s also … finding open players. So I’m really, really happy with Monnie, her overall improvement. She’s really added a poise to her game.”
“Being around the players that we have, it’s so easy to just play your game,” said Wright. “You’re not worried about being out of position. Especially playing with our point guards, Whalen and Wiggins and Thorn -- they put you in the right position. They set you up for great shots, and coach has a great system.”
The Lynx held the Sky to 38.5 percent shooting. Chicago was led by forward Tamera Young’s 11 points with center Sylvia Fowles and guard Epiphanny Prince each adding 9 points and Fowles grabbing a team-high 5 rebounds.
Leader of the Pack
Lindsay Whalen didn’t disappoint in her return to her alma mater, leading the Lynx offense and involving her teammates early. Whalen finished the game with 9 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds and was hot on the fast break, showcasing her ability to capitalize on steals and push the ball up the floor to find open teammates or finish at the hoop. Minnesota had a 16-0 fast-break advantage over the Chicago.
Whalen also brings an increased level of physicality to the floor both offensively and defensively.
“I always say Whay is a hockey player playing basketball,” said Reeve. “She takes all kinds of hits. It doesn’t ever worry me. Occasionally she gets up a little slower, but I know she’s going to get up.”
Rookie forward Devereaux Peters played 21 minutes in today’s contest, scoring six points including a turnaround jumper at the third quarter buzzer. Peters was also a key defensive force inside, collecting three steals and a blocked shot.
“She spends most of [her] time on the floor mad at herself,” Reeve said, “because she wants to do so much better and improve, and [she] doesn’t want to make mistakes. [I think] that’s a thing of beauty.”
Highlight to Remember
Lindsay Whalen opened the second half with a bang: After receiving the inbounds pass, Whalen exploded for a half-court drive, cutting through the Sky’s defense to drain a smooth and-one layup and collect the free throw for a three-point play. Lynx fans were on their feet, and the momentum carried all the way through the second half.
The Numbers Game
The Lynx were able to move the ball around to find players inside as well as penetrate from the perimeter, demonstrated by their 48-28 advantage in the paint. Defensively, the Lynx made strides after voicing frustrations on the defensive end during the Connecticut game last week. Transition defense was a point of emphasis in film and in practice over the weekend, and it paid off. Minnesota outscored the Sky 16-0 in fast-break points on Tuesday.
The Lynx host the Phoenix Mercury for their home opener as they kick off regular season play Sunday, May 20 at 11:30 a.m. at Target Center. The game will be nationally televised on ABC, and it will include a championship ceremony honoring the 2011 team. Both members of last year's squad who are no longer on the team, Alexis Hornbuckle and Charde Houston, will be in the house playing for the Mercury. The Lynx then head to New York to take on the Liberty on Tuesday, May 22 at 6 p.m.
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