It was only a preseason game, but Tuesdays 88-80 loss to the Connecticut Sun at Target Center was a beneficial stepping stone for the team as it prepares for its season opener June 1. In defeat, the Lynx took a closer look at themselves and some of the areas they need to work on as a wholeparticularly offensive rebounding and turnovers.
The Lynx pulled down just eight offensive rebounds in the game and turned the ball over 22 times compared to Connecticuts 10, yet they led late and were in position to finish their preseason slate 2-0 had it not been for a 15-2 Sun run to end the contest.
After trailing 48-45 at half, it looked like the Lynx were poised for a comeback after taking a 70-68 lead heading into the fourth. But the Lynx were held to just two points in the final six minutes.
Lynx vs. Sun
No Sun player was overwhelming, but collectively, Connecticut played a sound game. Forward Tan White had a team-high 12 points, while forward Ashley Walker and guard Allison Hightower had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was able to see the core of her group play big minutes together, while she was also able to see rookie guard Sugar Rodgers appear in her first preseason game of the year. In addition, she had her eye on forward Rachel Jarry, who played 19 minutes -- more court time than both Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus. Jarry finished with four points and five rebounds.
I think the hardest thing about today is when we have 12 players dressed, you want to get your core group time together and your second group together, Reeve said.
Trying to accomplish all of those things is challenging.
Rodgers finished with six points and four rebounds in 23 minutes of play.
I was so nervous, Rodgers said. I went in played hard and you know, I have a lot of learning to do You lose and you learn from it. If I can do the little things, thats what Im going to do. Once you do the little things, youre the star in your own world.
Despite not playing the minutes shes used to getting, Augustus still got her points, finishing with 16, going 6-for-7 from the field. Moore finished with 13 points. Reeve noted that she would have like to see more rebounds from her guards, though. Between Moore, Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Monica Wright, the group finished with just five rebounds.
Wright had a childhood friend that basketball fans might be familiar with who was in attendance. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Kevin Durant sat courtside to cheer on his friend. Wright finished with nine points with Durant looking on.
Hes actually the type of player I want to be like, Wright said. Hes a great player.
Wright isnt so bad herself. Reeve said before the game that she expects Wright to make a giant leap in her game this season.
Center Janel McCarville sat out of the game with an ankle injury, while rookie guard Lindsey Moore was out with a calf injury.
Leader of the pack Lindsay Whalen
The most intriguing matchup going into the day was between Whalen and Connecticut point guard Kara Lawson. Both players play the point, but play very different styles. Whalen is more of a pass-first guard, while Lawson is more of a scorer. Whalen got the best of Lawson in both the point and assist column on Tuesday. Whalen finished with 14 points going along with eight assists. She was also incredibly efficient, finishing 6-for-7 from the field. She was just as dominant defensively, holding Lawson to a mere five points off a 2-for-7 performance from the field.
Highlight of the Game
In the middle of the third quarter, Whalen went on a run that brought the Lynx back from a 61-57 deficit all the way to a 65-64 lead. With 4:28 left in the quarter, Whalen hit a tough layup in traffic to put the Lynx within two. Less than a minute later, she hit an 18-foot jump shot to inch the Lynx within one. Thirty five seconds later, she pulled up from 14-feet, giving the Lynx a 65-64 lead, putting the Lynx Nation on its feet.
The Numbers Game
In their first preseason game on Saturday, the Lynx forced Washington into 24 turnovers. They couldnt repeat that performance against the Sun, however. Minnesota was only able to force 10 turnovers, while Connecticut forced 22 turnovers, including six from Wright. Wright played backup point guard in the game, a position Reeve thinks shell see plenty of time at this season.
I think both games that we played show how hard it is to win. If you want to be at a successful level in this league, youre going to have to do the little things every night. We didnt do enough today. Connecticut played very hard and seemed to get all the loose balls, killed the o-boards. We didnt do enough to combat their efforts. So its just a good reminder of how hard it is to win, and we have to continue every day to push ourselves so we can be prepared and be the more hungry team every day. Lynx guard Maya Moore
A positive from Tuesdays game is that the Lynx at least got a good scouting report. Minnesota will open its season by hosting the Sun at 7 p.m. on June 1. The two teams split the series last season, with each team winning its road game.
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