BISMARCK Monica Wright led the Minnesota Lynx with 16 points and Rebekkah Brunson added 12 points and six rebounds to lead the two-time defending Western Conference champions to a 74-57 preseason victory over Washington on Saturday.
Though it never trailed, Minnesota saw its lead cut to two points with just under eight minutes to play. But the Lynx closed the game on a 17-2 run in front of an announced crowd of 1,513 at the Bismarck Civic Center in the citys first-ever WNBA game.
Monica Wright was really impressive today, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. She just does it on both sides of the ball. She impacts so much defensively. We were really pleased with our defense in the second half.
In control for most of the game the Lynx led by eight points at halftime and at the end of three quarters the Mystics cut Minnesotas lead to just a pair at 57-55 after a Nadirah McKenith jumper with 7:56 to play, but it was all Minnesota after that. Fighting for a roster spot, Australian rookie Rachel Jarry helped her cause with a solid night, finishing with 11 points. Including free throws, Jarry made eight of the 10 shots she attempted.
Lynx vs. Mystics
Rachel Jarry is a very tough-minded person, Reeve said. Thats a very endearing quality. Were going to have some tough roster decisions. We can make a case for any one of the rookies. Well have to sit down and look at the tape.
Maya MooreMinnesotas second-leading scorer from last season at 16.4 points per gamehad 10 points while adding six steals and playing tough defense all night. Making her Lynx debut after coming over in a trade in the offseason, former University of Minnesota star Janel McCarville finished with four points in 21 minutes.
Lindsay Whalen had seven points for the Lynx, who won their third consecutive preseason game. Moore and Brunson helped fuel Minnesotas fourth quarter charge after Reeve elected to put her starting unit back on the floor in an attempt to thwart Washingtons momentum.
Every time we have an opportunity to go home with a win or loss, we want to make sure its a win, Moore said. Thats our mindset as starters and thats the mindset for the whole team. When we went back in, we wanted to push the lead, control the boards and run. Our defense was also really good.
With the trip to Bismarck representing her first trip to the city, Moore said it was fun to put Lynx basketball on display in a new market.
Its always good to get out to a new place, Moore said. Its not until you see us in person that you can appreciate the fun, the athleticism and the level of play that we play at. We made some new fans who are never going to forget this and tell their friends and become Minnesota Lynx and WNBA supporters.
Leader of the pack Monica Wright
Starting in place of the injured Seimone Augustus (Reeve said Augustus tweaked her ankle in practice Friday, but that it was nothing serious), Wright was all over the floor during her team-leading 28 minutes Saturday. Shooting 50 percent from the floor (4-for-8), Wright made both of her 3-point attempts and came up with several hustle plays that resulted directly or indirectly in Lynx points. Along with her 16 points, Wright gathered four rebounds, dished out three assists and finished with three steals, earning praise from her coach after the game.
Highlight of the Game
With the Mystics trailing 15-6 and the shot clock running down midway through the first quarter, Washington guard Matee Ajavon grabbed a loose ball and drained a desperation shot just inside half court, drawing a big reaction from the Civic Center crowd and a chuckle from Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen.
The Numbers Game
Although it trailed in the category most of the game, Minnesota finished with a 30-29 advantage in the rebounding department, something both Reeve and Moore said the team needs to work on after the game.The Lynx recorded 16 steals while forcing Washington into 24 turnovers.Minneapolis native and the fourth overall pick in the WNBA draft Tayler Hill had a tough night. Failing to register a point, the Ohio St. product went 0-for-9 from the field and turned the ball over a team-leading six times.
Rebounding continues to be a thing for us. Were not going up with two hands and were not getting rebounding space. We were plus-one tonight in rebounding margin and thats something where I thought we should be better. -- Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve
The Lynx play their second and final preseason game at Target Center on Tuesday against Connecticut. Minnesota opens the regular against the same Sun team on June 1.
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