Re-tooling on the fly, the Minnesota Lynx seek their second 3-0 start in three years Saturday night when they face the Dallas Wings.
Many considered this a rebuilding year for the Lynx, one of the league’s flagship franchises with four titles and six WNBA Finals appearances this decade. Lindsay Whalen retired in the offseason and Maya Moore announced she was taking a leave of absence this season. Additionally, Rebekkah Brunson’s status is uncertain as she is not on the roster after suffering a concussion last season, and most recently, the franchise’s leading scorer in points and games played – Seimone Augustus – is out indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery earlier this week.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, though, has cobbled together a roster that has meshed well in the early going. Minnesota is coming off a 72-61 victory over defending champion – albeit short-handed as well – Seattle on Wednesday night. Odyssey Sims had 15 points and five assists as the Lynx raced to a 22-9 lead after one quarter and never looked back, holding the Storm to 36.4 percent shooting and 2 of 15 from 3-point range.
“You have those guards who can fly around,” Sylvia Fowles told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after contributing seven points and 13 rebounds. “Get out in transition and do some wonderful things from the defensive end to the offensive end. We have these fresh, young legs that don’t mind going side-to-side multiple times. That helps.”
The Lynx have held both opponents to 40 percent shooting or worse and have limited Chicago and Seattle to five 3-pointers on 28 attempts.
Dallas began the post-Liz Cambage era with a 76-72 loss at Atlanta on May 24. Alisha Gray scored 14 points and rookie Arike Ogunbowale added 12 for the Wings, but their lack of execution down the stretch proved costly as the Dream closed the game on an 11-1 run over the final 2:16.
Isabelle Harrison, acquired from Las Vegas in the Cambage trade, had five points, eight rebounds, and five blocks in 22 minutes. Rookie point guard Brooke McCarty-Williams provided a spark off the bench with eight points, eight assists and three rebounds in 29 minutes. McCarty-Williams was a surprise inclusion to the Wings roster, beating out second-round draft pick Megan Gustafson for the final spot.
“Brooke played her butt off and earned her spot,” general manager Greg Bibb told The Dallas Morning News. “I just called her 1/8last week 3/8 and asked her if she was free to take a flight to Atlanta tomorrow morning and she was.”
Minnesota swept the three meetings last year, including a 76-72 victory in Dallas in the most recent meeting in which Moore scored the final six points of the game. The Wings have lost 11 straight to the Lynx since an 86-78 victory June 21, 2015, when the franchise was located in Tulsa.
(Sylvia Fowles photo courtesy Minnesota Lynx official Twitter account)