New-Look Lynx win sloppy exhibition opener
MINNEAPOLIS -- Not every win is perfect, especially when half of a roster has new faces.
The new-look Lynx opened the preseason Friday, May 10, at the Target Center with an 86-79 win over the Washington Mystics after a strong bench performance led the charge for the team.
“The starting five set the tone, but the [bench] showcased their talents,” veteran center Slyvia Fowles said.
Newly acquired point guard Odyssey Sims came off the bench on fire as she went onto score 20 points along with seven assists and five rebounds, and to head coach Cheryl Reeve it’s a lot more fun coaching her than against.
“I had some awfully bad dreams trying to figure out how to guard her in a high ball screen [in the past],” Reeve said. “It was really fun to watch her doing it for us, and against someone else.”
Besides Sims, rookie Jessica Shepard also made her presence felt off the bench as she scored 10 points and grabbed eight boards in her Lynx debut. Shepard and Sims accounted for 30 of the 47 total bench points.
Besides the terrific bench play for the Lynx their defense, had 18 more rebounds and 26 more points in the paint, which contributed to a dominant performance by Minnesota.,
Fowles led the way on the boards bringing down 11 of them, alongside 19 points.
However, not everything went perfect as turnovers kept Washington competitive for the majority of the game as they forced 19 turnovers, 11 of which were in the opening half as they scored 14 total points off them.
“Too many turnovers for sure, we lost the deflection battle [and] they got way more aggressive on us,” Reeve said. “We gotta take better care of the ball for sure.”
Although Washington ended the opening half with five turnovers, they finished the game with 13, which led to a second-half surge by the Lynx.
Forward Simone Augustus attributes the sloppy play in the first half to learning the new faces on the team.
“A lot of those were miscues, mistakes, and just getting to know each other,” she said.
Although the performance wasn’t flawless Augustus said this is the best learning opportunity for a team with a bunch of new faces.
“What we got today was a learning lesson, and just to see the effort and the way we competed today and come together… is just one step forward,” Augustus said.
To kick-off the season, the Lynx won the opening tip and caught fire and took the first six points over Washington.
Minnesota continued their dominance throughout the opening quarter until costly turnovers turned into points the other way. Minnesota coughed up the ball four times in the opening quarter, but held a slight 18-16 lead headed into the second quarter.
Washington’s defensive effort, however, did not pay off at the other end as the Lynx’s defense was too much as they shot 34.4 percent from the field and trailed 38-36 at the half.
Turnovers ended up costing Washington more in the second half as the Lynx were more in an offensive groove, only giving up the ball eight times.
“I thought we did a great job in the second half… we paid a little bit more attention to the details,” Sims said.
Although Washington fought valiantly, the Lynx pulled away at the end, winning 86-79.
Minnesota will be back in action May 19 as they travel to Las Vegas to take on the Aces.