After losing three straight games entering Thursday night, the Minnesota Lynx were in desperate need for a win to try and make a jump in the league standings prior to the start of the WNBA Playoffs next month.
Minnesota came into the game as the No. 8 seed, sitting a half-game behind the Phoenix Mercury and the No. 7 seed. With the Mercury having the night off, the Lynx were faced with a key opportunity to move back up to the seventh spot in the postseason picture.
In the first game of a four-game homestand in Minneapolis, the Lynx bounced back and took advantage of that opportunity, breaking their losing streak and taking down the Dallas Wings 86-70 on Thursday at Target Center.
With the win, Minnesota improved to 14-15 overall on the year and are now tied with Phoenix (13-14) in the No. 7 spot in the WNBA standings, both trailing the top-seeded Washington Mystics by seven games. The Lynx are listed ahead of the Mercury in the standings due to having a better overall win percentage at the moment.
“This (four-game home stretch) pretty much makes or breaks us. You gotta show up and we have good fans here at home,” Sylvia Fowles said after the game. “We just want to make sure we come in, play hard every night and come out with a win.”
To kick off the game back at home, the Lynx jumped out to an early lead over the Wings in the first handful of minutes. Minnesota, which opened the game on a 14-3 run in the first four minutes of play, outscored Dallas 26-17 in the first quarter while leading by as much as 11 points in the frame.
To round out the first half, the Lynx continued to build onto their lead and not let up in the opening 20 minutes of action. Behind Rookie of the Year frontrunner Naphessa Collier, who tallied 14 of her 19 total points in the first half, Minnesota managed to carry a 47-32 lead into the break.
The Lynx, who shot 50 percent from the field in the first half while holding the Wings to shooting 39.3 percent, tallied 30 of their 47 points in the paint going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Minnesota didn’t put together the cleanest of performances as a team, but still managed to outscore Dallas 21-18 in the frame to grab an 18-point lead going into the final 10 minutes.
To finish off the game, the Lynx continued to not led the Wings lead at any point in the contest to come away with a much-needed victory back at Target Center, where they improved to 8-6 this season.
“This was really important because we take so much pride in our home games,” Collier said. To come out with a bang like this, I think it was really big for us.”
Collier proved why many view her as the frontrunner to win the Rookie of the Year award in the win for Minnesota, finishing the game with a team-best 19 points, five rebounds and four steals in 35 minutes.
“Obviously our rookie was even better. Once again with four steals, 19 points and five rebounds. She just does it all,” Reeve said of Collier. “I just thought it was a statement game from Napheesa.”
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Behind Collier, Damiris Dantas contributed with a nice all-around performance of 17 points, a career-high eight assists and four rebounds. Danielle Robinson finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in a return to the starting lineup and Fowles had 12 points and seven rebounds for Minnesota, which outscored Dallas 46-24 in the paint and shot 47.8 percent from the field as a team.
“I think anytime Damiris Dantas plays like she did, we are a much better team overall,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said post-game. “She did it all for us tonight, Dantas did.”
For the Wings, who shot a 42.4 percent mark from the field, Arike Ogunbowale had 22 points, Allisha Gray finished with 16 points and four rebounds and Kaela Davis added 14 points off the bench to finish as the lone three Dallas players who managed to score in double-figures.
The Lynx will remain at home as they continue on in their current four-game homestand at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday against the Las Vegas Aces at Target Center. The game will be aired on NBA TV and Fox Sports North and can be heard locally in Minnesota on 106.1 FM.
“Win your home games,” Reeve said. “Obviously getting back into the win column is good and now we just have to try and keep this momentum going into the next game on Sunday.”
Lynx Sign Bridget Carleton
Prior to the game on Thursday, the Lynx announced they signed free-agent forward Bridget Carleton to a seven-day contract.
After using the maximum amount of seven-day contracts it could on forward Jillian Alleyne, signing her to a total of three this season, Carleton replaces Alleyne on Minnesota’s roster with a handful of regular-season games remaining.
Carleton, a 6-foot-1 forward and Ontario native, was selected by the Connecticut Sun with the 21st overall pick in April’s 2019 WNBA Draft. She appeared in just four contests for the Sun, where she averaged 7.3 minutes per game, before being waved by the team on July 3.
Playing collegiately at Iowa State prior to joining the WNBA this season, Carleton earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors as a senior in the spring.