Ladies and gentlemen, Sylvia Fowles.
In a dominant performance, Fowles scored 23 points and brought down 20 rebounds to lead the Lynx to their first win of the 2018 WNBA season. Minnesota took down Dallas 76-68 as Fowles turned in the 18th 20-point/20-rebound game in league history and the first in Lynx regular-season history.
Fowles’ was defended by a strong frontcourt player in Liz Cambage, but tonight she was unstoppable.
It was clear that despite Cambage being one of the only players in the league who has a size advantage on Fowles that the Lynx liked the matchup. Minnesota looked to Fowles early and often, who used her excellent footwork and arsenal of post moves to absolutely take apart Cambage.
“It felt good, I felt good. I felt like my teammates gave me the ball a lot and put me in really good spots to finish, and from there I went,” said Fowles. [Cambage] brings it out of you. She’s a big body, she’s aggressive, she’s smart, she’s long. I like it when I have challenges like that.”
Fowles has never been one to back down from a challenge, preferring to back down her defenders, and the Lynx got her the ball in deep post position frequently. Cambage recovered from Fowles’ early onslaught and gathered a few blocks later in the game, but Fowles certainly came out on top (not to mention her team won).
“One of the reporters said to me before the game, we’re going to have a hard time scoring on the inside. [Fowles] might have heard that and took it to heart, and went to work,” said coach Cheryl Reeve. “The multiple fakes, the footwork, the deep pins.”
Fowles’ speed and agility were on full display tonight. One of the many things that makes Fowles so special is that she has the ability to overpower smaller defenders and go around larger ones. The Wings have a huge frontcourt with the 6-8 Cambage, 6-5 Breanna Lewis, and 6-6 Azurá Stevens, but none of them had any luck stopping Fowles tonight. Every time the Wings thought they had Fowles’ moves figured out, she’d throw in a wrinkle. Sometimes she’d get the ball in the post and go to work with her back to the basket, but the Lynx also did a good job throwing her lobs, and Fowles flashed to the basket for eight offensive rebounds against the slower Wings frontline.
On the defensive end, the Lynx did a good job of fronting Cambage and not backing down when she tried to get close to the basket. They also boxed out well. She finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but only one offensive board.
The entire Lynx unit played outstanding defense tonight. They held the Wings to 34.6-percent shooting from the field, and the second quarter, they allowed only four Dallas points. Skylar Diggins-Smith was held to just 12 points on 4-15 shooting.
“Tremendous commitment to the defensive game plan,” said Reeve. “Things got a little bit harder for us in the third quarter when we weren’t putting the ball in the hole, then they ended up being in more transition situations, but overall defensively, that’s why we won the game.”
The Wings played better in the second half than the first, but the Lynx’s dominant performance early in the game gave them enough of a cushion to come away with the victory. Outside of Fowles, the Lynx turned in a balanced offensive effort, with nine players seeing meaningful minutes, and all 11 seeing the floor. Alexis Jones looked confident and poised, Tanisha Wright brought the intensity, and Maya Moore shook off a rough shooting night to finish with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Not going to lie, after Sunday, this one feels good. Now the Lynx go on the road to take on the Liberty, Mystics, and Dream before returning home next Friday to play the Mercury. There are many more games to be played, but this was an encouraging contest. Now the Lynx will look to build on their success.