The Minnesota Lynx’s 80-64 WNBA victory over the Los Angeles Sparks June 12 at the Target Center provided quite the homecoming for Seimone Augustus (Sparks assistant coach), Nia Coffey (Sparks forward), Amanda Zahui B. (Sparks center), Rachel Banham (Lynx shooting guard), and Lea B. Olsen (Bally Sports North color analyst).
Point guard Crystal Dangerfield came off the bench to lead Minnesota with 16 points, Sylvia Fowles added 15 at center, and Banham chipped in 12 points, connecting on all four attempts from three-point range.
Los Angeles got 17 points from forward Te’a Cooper, 15 from Zahui B., 13 from guard Kristi Toliver, and eight points and two blocked shots from Coffey.
Where is the Minnesota connection in all of this you ask? Check this out!
Augustus, who retired after playing for the Sparks last season, led the Lynx to four WNBA championships in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 during her 14 seasons with the team. The 6’0” guard/forward was the overall number-one pick in the 2006 WNBA draft after an outstanding career at Louisiana State University.
Coffey, at 6’1”, had outstanding careers at Hopkins High School and Northwestern University. She led Hopkins to three state championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Coffey was the fifth pick of the 2017 WNBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs.
Zahui B., who stands at 6’5”, played at the University of Minnesota for two seasons with scoring averages of 15.1 and 18.8 respectively. She was drafted second overall in the 2015 WNBA draft by the Tulsa Shock after her sophomore season.
Banham, 5’10”, was one of the state’s top high school players when she prepped at Lakeville North High School, and later a college phenom after playing collegiately at the U of M. She led Lakeville North to the Class 4A title as a junior in 2010 and went on to finish her collegiate career as the Gophers all-time leading scorer. Banham was the fourth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun.
Olsen, a veteran sportscaster who serves as a color analyst for the Lynx, helped broadcast the Lynx-Sparks game. After an outstanding prep career at Minneapolis South ended in 1985, she went on to play at the University of Minnesota.
So there was definitely a Minnesota connection that evening. I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.