In front of more than 9,000 fans, the defending Western Conference Champions made it known that they aren't going anywhere. The Minnesota Lynx had to wait a week past the WNBA's opening game to play, but it appeared as if it was all worth the wait as Minnesota defeated the Connecticut Sun 90-74 on Saturday night at the Target Center.
Lynx guard Seimone Augustus addressed the fans pregame while the team unveiled the 2012 Western Conference championship banner. Augustus thanked the fans for coming out and supporting the team.
"We're proud of what we were able to do last year," Augustus said. "...It's all because of you."
Lynx vs. Sun
At the end of the night, though, it was the fans who were thanking the Lynx for taking the court.
The Lynx had a monster second quarter, outscoring the Sun 31-21 to take a 52-39 halftime lead. Third-year player Maya Moore was phenomenal in the first half, scoring 18 points in less than 17 minutes of play. What might be more incredible was her efficiency. She missed just four out of her 12 attempts.
The second half was more of the same, just replace Moore with Augustus. During the first game of the team's 15th season, it seemed appropriate that the longest tenured Lynx player would have a first-class game. Augustus scored nine of her 20 points in the third quarter, going 4-for-5 from the floor. She finished the game 9-for-13 from the field.
The Lynx were also able to see a few new faces in the lineup. One of those faces might not be so new to Minnesota, though. Former Golden Gopher Janel McCarville played her first regular season game for the Lynx and played 20 minutes, finishing with three rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals. When McCarville took the court, the crowd erupted.
Other new faces didn't get as much playing time. Between Rachel Jarry, Sugar Rodgers and Lindsey Moore, Rodgers was the only player to score, finishing with two points.
Rebekkah Brunson finished with 12 points, while Lindsay Whalen and Monica Wright both finished with nine.
It is worth noting that the Sun came off a loss on Friday night. In fact, Connecticut had already played two games before the Lynx had played one. Minnesota got some revenge on a Connecticut team that beat the Lynx earlier in preseason. The Lynx set a franchise record with a 16-1 record last season at the Target Center last season. Their only loss came at the hands of the Sun.
"It was a great start to the 2013 journey," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "It's been a long time since we've played a game. You could probably tell we were excited to play... I thought we played extremely hard. One of our focal points going into the game was that we knew the effort would be really high. We wanted to execution to match that."
Leader of the pack Maya Moore
There arent a lot of ways to describe Moores first half of Saturday nights game. Efficient? Incredible? Unstoppable? That might not do her justice. Fans might have witnessed the Jordan athlete out of UConn take a giant leap.
In the first half alone, Moore finished 8-for-12 from the field with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Two of those baskets were from deep.
"It's just amazing. A great player going out there and playing," said Amber Harris on watching Moore. "It was incredible to watch."
While her efficiency didn't continue quite on the same pace, Moore still finished with a game-high 26 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. She ended playing 32 minutes, the most on the team. Moore thanked the crowd after the game and noted how happy she was to be on the team during a year in which it was celebrating its 15th season.
MVP trophy? Watch out. Moores coming for you.
Highlight of the Game
Nobody was real sure what to expect from McCarville heading into the game.
Well, she answered that question pretty early in the season. With 9:21 left in the first half, McCarville showed us a blast from the past as she found a cutting Moore with a nifty pass for an easy layup.
McCarville didn't score a single point, but with players like Moore, Augustus, Whalen and Wright, that's not a real concern.
The Lynx started the 2013 season off on the right foot, as they finished shooting 50 percent from the field. Moore and Augustus finished 20-for-32, so that never hurts.
The Sun on the other hand, weren't as successful. Connecticut finished shooting just 35.9 percent and last year's MVP, Tina Charles, struggled, finishing 11-for-26.
"You just got to make it difficult for her," McCarville said on guarding Charles. "She's going to get her points. She's going to get her shots. You've just got to contest each one and make it as difficult as possible."
"It's really important when Brunson leaves the game that you get someone like Dev (Peters) who can come into the game and get the same amount of rebounds or at least compete for them." coach Cheryl Reeve on the success of her post players in Saturday's winPeters finished with six points and seven rebounds, while Harris finished with six points
The Lynx will get there first look at rookie center Brittany Griner as Minnesota hosts the Phoenix Mercury at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.