The Minnesota Lynx hosted their annual Camp Day at Target Center against the Phoenix Mercury, and came away with an 81-69 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,404.
It was the fifth time these two teams played against each other this year, and the last meeting of the regular season with the Lynx sweeping the series 5-0. The win puts the Lynx at 14-3 on the season while pushing the Mercury back to the .500 mark with a record of 9-9.
Phoenix came into the contest short-handed, missing three key members of their roster. WNBA scoring leader Diana Taurasi was forced to sit out the game due to a technical foul based suspension. Rookie sensation Brittney Griner sat out with a knee injury, and the coaching staff decided to play it safe by leaving veteran forward Penny Taylor on the bench as well.
The Lynx jumped out to an early lead, up 23-13 at the end of the first quarter, and managed to hold the Mercury at bay throughout the contest. Phoenix attempted to fight back pulling to within seven at the half, but couldn’t adapt enough to overcome a powerful Lynx roster.
“We were in it the first half, down by seven at half time. We knew we had to come out and play aggressive because they are a physical team. We made some mistakes offensively that hurt us, and we gave them too many transition buckets.”
Phoenix Mercury forward Candice Dupree
Over half of the Mercury’s first half scoring came from starting forwards DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree. They combined for 22 of the Mercury’s 34 first half points on 8-17 shooting from the field, with an additional 6-7 from the free throw line.
The Lynx featured very balanced scoring during the first half, shooting 51.6% as a team, while adding 13 assists, and 12 fast-break points. Seimone Augustus didn’t seem to show any signs of pain in her third game back since the ankle injury, and she got the support she needed from the rest of the team to secure yet another Lynx victory.
Minnesota took total control of the game in the third quarter, and simply seemed to out run and out hustle their opponents generating multiple fast-break opportunities and competing at a very high level.
The impact of the sold-out crowd was palpable. They screamed, cheered, and helped will the Lynx to their seventh consecutive win, and continued another record breaking streak with 16 straight regular season wins at the Target Center dating back to July of 2012.
The key performers for the Mercury were Candice Dupree, who finished the night with 17 points on 8-14 shooting with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. DeWanna Bonner, who recorded 15 points on 4-11 shooting with 7-8 from the charity stripe. Bench contributions from Jasmine James (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Charde Houston (13 points, 4 rebounds) showed effort, but weren’t enough to bring Phoenix back into the contest.
Lindsay Whalen continued her high level of play finishing the night with 18 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Seimone Augustus found her stroke converting on 8-11 shots for 16 points, and added 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. While Maya Moore played within the team structure posting 10 points (4-8 FG), 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and adding 2 steals on the defensive end.
Monica Wright stepped up again with a solid contribution of 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists off the bench. While starters Rebekkah Brunson, and Janel McCarville made strong defensive contributions in the win combining for 6 steals, 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.
“We have such an unselfish team. I told them that I appreciate the way they have come together. There is such balance on our team…they are unselfish and have no problem making one more pass. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve