Go out with a bang.
With their playoff positioned secured and locked into the No. 4 seed following the Phoenix Mercury’s loss to the Seattle Storm on Friday, the Minnesota Lynx could’ve coasted into the postseason during Saturday night’s regular season finale versus the Indiana Fever.
Instead, it was a fever pitch brought on by Rachel Banham’s hot hand on the evening that put an exclamation point on the 2020 campaign. Starting in place of a resting Crystal Dangerfield, the Lakeville, Minn. native went off for career-highs of 29 points and 10 assists on 7-of-8 shooting from three-point land to lead the Lynx to a 98-86 victory.
“Right away, pretty much, when I hit those two threes in the first quarter, I knew I was feeling pretty good,” Banham said after the game.
“I’m so happy for Rachel,” teammate Napheesa Collier told the media. “It was so fun to watch her. It was a definite heat check tonight.”
Banham seemingly couldn’t miss from long range as the Lynx pushed ahead and built a lead in the second half. But it was her passing and ability to find open teammates that were just as vital in the win.
“Rachel’s passing was one of the reasons that we felt like we needed to have her on the floor,” Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve said. “I know that she made threes and that was fun, but her passing was what I enjoyed the most.”
While the scoring and shooting ability has always been there — Banham famously earned fans like Kobe Bryant after scoring 60 points in a game during her days at the University of Minnesota — it’s her skill as a dimer that Banham takes the greatest pride in.
“I’m so happy, [passing] is my favorite part of the game,” Banham said of her career-high assist tally. “I love passing the ball, and I know that people don’t know that because I was such a scorer in college, but I really do enjoy passing the ball.
“That was my favorite part of the game.”