In the battle for supremacy in the WNBA this game was key. The Minnesota Lynx entered the game with the best record in the Western Conference at (8-3). While the Atlanta Dream came into Minnesota leading the Eastern Conference with a WNBA best (10-1) record and looked to create a tough match-up.
Following the unfortunate ankle injury to Seimone Augustus, Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve found herself in the difficult position of creating a game plan to compete with one of the best teams in the league. It was the first of two scheduled meetings between the Lynx and Dream, and the only time they will face during the regular season at Target Center this year.
The Lynx came out of the gate with a 7-2 run which they drove to a 17-point halftime lead, and then managed to build on that separation the entire contest finishing off the Dream 94-72.
The defensive focus on display by Minnesota throughout the game was phenomenal. They held Atlanta to 37% from the field, and managed to generate 18 turnovers in what was a very impressive win.
“I told the team I was really impressed with the determination to execute the game plan on the defensive side…our help was there, our activity was there, we were locked together.”
Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve
Key first half scoring for the Lynx was provided by Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen, who combined for 33 points on 12-16 shooting during that time. In contrast, the entire starting lineup for the Dream at the half had a total of 30 points on 12-32 from the field.
Rebekkah Brunson and Janelle McCarville both were doing a good job clogging up the lane and each had a high intensity block, forcing the Dream to run their offense from the perimeter and to rely on their shooting.
During the second half Atlanta continued their struggle to find momentum. Minnesota did a solid job of helping each other out, preventing transition buckets, and moving as a single unit to stagger a potentially potent Atlanta team that seemed caught off guard.
Atlanta forward Angel McCoughtry played hard, but couldn’t find her shot finishing the night with 16 points on 5-19 shooting, 5-9 FT, 6 rebounds, and adding 5 assists. 7 year veteran center Erika de Souza was the only Dream player to shoot above 50% and played very well posting 14 points on 7-9 from the floor, and ripping down 13 total rebounds.
Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson recorded her fifth double double of the season with 10 points and 3 steals to go with 12 rebounds. Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore slowed down offensively in the second half, but continued to play smart and helped Minnesota secure the win.
On observing the game from the bench…
“It was great, I had fun. Just enjoying the moments, and seeing the play on the defensive end…with so many scorers on that team (Atlanta)…it was great to see how everybody came through.”
Lynx forward Seimone Augustus
Monica Wright absolutely shined in her first start of the season. She recorded a season high 22 points on 7-10 shooting, created a season high five assists, posted 3 steals, and shot a remarkable 8-8 from the free throw stripe.
Wright came into the season poised to be a potential stand out, and has done an excellent job assuming the role of sixth-woman within the Lynx game plan. She gained national media attention earlier in the week with the announcement of her wedding engagement to long time friend and NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
With Seimone Augustus currently listed as out indefinitely, Monica Wright must now redefine her role again as the newest member of the starting line-up. She has the tools, the effort level, and the proper attitude to continue to be a key contributor every game. As unfortunate as the injury to Augustus is, it presents an opportunity for Monica Wright to show the rest of the WNBA what the Lynx faithful already know.
About the play of Monica Wright…
“Mone’ was great for us, she takes our team to another level. When she plays with that poise and that aggression it’s really going to be a long night for the other team. I get so pumped when she plays well, and it’s not just points…She’s always going to find a way to contribute.”
Lynx guard Maya Moore