Getting the first game out of the way was just as important as winning it, said Minnesota Lynx players. The hosts’ 8-0 run to end the first quarter finally shook off whatever rust that might have built up as the Lynx took a 1-0 lead Tuesday with a 101-81 victory over Washington.
“I thought we had pretty good pace throughout the game,” said Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson. The veteran forward finished with nine points. “I think we had to knock some rust off, but we had a great week and a half of practice. We carried that over into the game.”
“I think we were more energized than anything,” added Sylvia Fowles, whose 18 points, seven rebounds game prompted many of the reported 7,834 in attendance to chant “M-V-P” several times during the contest. Fowles is a favorite to be named the league’s top player, perhaps sometime later this week.
The Mystics had 10 offensive rebounds — five of them came in the first quarter. “We didn’t want to give up offensive rebounds,” Minnesota Assistant Coach James Wade told the MSR afterwards. Keeping the opponents off their own boards is an area that the Lynx must do better, he said. Another Game 2 adjustment will be both teams working on getting out on the other team’s shooters, said Wade. “We got to move the ball and be aggressive,” added the assistant coach.
Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen, back in action after being out over a month with a broken hand, told us that she thinks Thursday’s contest at Williams Arena will be just as physical as Tuesday’s — 35 total fouls were called in the semifinals’ opening game. “We know we have to be ready from the start,” she concluded.
“We know they are a great team and they are going to come out ready to play. We got to continue protecting the paint,” said Fowles on Minnesota’s probable game plan for Thursday.
“It’s a long series,” predicted Brunson.
All five Minnesota starters were back for the first time since August 3, led by Seimone Augustus’ game-high 24 points. Lindsay Whalen logged 16 minutes and scored two points after she missed 12 games. She looked comfortable and told me afterwards that she’s happy to be back.
Maya Moore chipped in 14 points. Renee Montgomery led all reserves with 18 points, including 4-of-5 in threes.
View from the stands
Former Lynx Assistant Coach Jim Petersen watched the team Tuesday as a civilian, his first post-season not on the bench. “It’s definitely different watching from the stands,” he told the MSR outside the home dressing room. Petersen once played in the Barn as a collegiate. “I’m happy for the team.”
Yes, she said it…
“I hope Washington bring their ‘A’ game” on Thursday, said Lynx fan Taylor Anderson. “They [Minnesota] are playing at a high tempo right now.”
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Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.