Lynx

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By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Writer

With Alexis Hornbuckle, the Detroit Shock knew they had one talented rookie on their roster. They're starting to discover that she's not alone.

The Shock, who got a big game from rookie Tasha Humphrey in their latest win, look to remain unbeaten at home on Friday when they face the Minnesota Lynx.

Hornbuckle was the No. 4 overall pick in the draft out of the University of Tennessee, where she had just won a national championship.

Humphrey, who attended the University of Georgia, joined Hornbuckle on the 2007 All-SEC team, and on draft day joined Hornbuckle with the Shock (8-3) after being selected with the No. 11 pick in the first round.

Hornbuckle has played increasingly steady minutes and is averaging 7.1 points, but Humphrey had only appeared in six games and scored a total of 19 points entering last weekend.

Detroit was in danger of closing its four-game road trip at 1-3 on Saturday against Phoenix, but Humphrey wouldn't let that happen.

She scored 28 points in 26 minutes and - along with Hornbuckle (11 points, 15 rebounds) - led the Shock to an 89-79 win over the Mercury, the team that beat Detroit for the championship in five games last season.

"Our rookies played really great tonight," coach Bill Laimbeer told the team's official Web site. "We knew about Hornbuckle and we know that she is really a solid player. Humphrey just got her opportunity recently and she has been working really hard for this.

"We know she can score; we just never knew she could score like this."

Shock leading scorer Katie Smith, a five-time All-Star with the Lynx before being traded to Detroit in 2005, had 18 points on Saturday to raise her season average to 16.8.

Minnesota (6-4) lost its first seven games in 2007 on its way to finishing tied for the league's worst record, but it started this season in much better fashion.

The Lynx won their first five games, including a season-opening 84-70 victory over Detroit on May 18.

But Minnesota has dropped four of its last five - three by four points or fewer - including a 77-76 loss at New York on Saturday.

Coach Don Zierden, however, has seen signs of progress rather than regression.

"We've got a group of fighters," Zierden said. "They fought the whole way through the game. For a young team, I am proud of the way we fought."

The Lynx have one of the WNBA's least experienced rosters, with eight players in either their first or second season in the league.

Minnesota's two leading scorers, Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins, entered this season with a combined two years of experience, both belonging to Augustus.

But they make up one of the top offensive duos in the league. Augustus is averaging 18.7 points while Wiggins - the third overall pick in this year's draft - leads all rookies with a 17.3-point average.

Wiggins had a season-high 26 against New York, though she missed a potential game-winner in the final seconds.

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