(Temi Fagbenle photo courtesy SkySports)
Out to avoid a season-high fifth consecutive defeat, the Minnesota Lynx face a team struggling even worse Tuesday night when they square off against the Atlanta Dream.
The Lynx (10-11) dropped below the .500 mark with an 86-75 loss at Indiana on Saturday, coming undone in the second half. Minnesota, which led by as many as 20 in the first half and 10 at halftime, was held to 27 second-half points. Tami Fagbenle scored all of her career-high 14 points in the first half and Sylvia Fowles paced four players in double figures with 17.
“The difference between the first and second half was our turnovers,” Fowles told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the Lynx finished with 21 turnovers.
Minnesota is averaging a WNBA-worst 16.8 turnovers and also last in the league in turnover percentage (21.2).
Napheesa Collier, the WNBA Rookie of the Month for July, scored 14 points but is looking for her first productive game offensively against the Dream. The sixth overall pick in the draft has been held to 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting while also pulling down 19 rebounds as Minnesota has split the first two meetings.
Minnesota’s losing streak has come on the heels after winning six of eight to move a season-best three games over .500. Some help could be on the way for this game as veteran guard Seimone Augustus is listed as probable for this contest and could make her season debut.
Augustus, who has 5,836 points and is six shy of passing Becky Hammon for 10th on the all-time WNBA scoring list, has been recovering from knee surgery. The 13-year veteran averaged 10.8 points in 33 games last season.
Atlanta (5-18) has the league’s worst record and is looking to end a seven-game losing streak that began after its 60-53 win over Minnesota on July 12. The Dream started fast Sunday against Chicago and held a 10-point lead in the second quarter but could not sustain that pace against one of the WNBA’s best offensive teams and lost 87-75 at home.
Alex Bentley and Jessica Breland each recorded career highs with 21 and 18 points, respectively, but poor shooting continued to plague Atlanta as it connected on just 34.7 percent of its shots. The Dream also played much of the game without Tiffany Hayes, who was hit in the face going for a rebound in the second quarter and was held out as a precaution.
“You take Tiffany Hayes out of the lineup and she puts pressure on the D, she puts foul pressure on the D, she collapses people she gets people more open shots than we sometimes get,” Dream coach Nicki Collen told the team’s official website.
Atlanta recorded the second-fewest points allowed in club history in last month’s win, and the 113 combined points were a season low for a WNBA game. The Dream, who are last in the league in scoring and shooting percentage while being the only team connecting below 30 percent from 3-point range (27.7), will play five of their next six on the road after this contest.