Minneapolis, MN -- The Minnesota Lynx played the Chicago Sky for the second time in seven days. Their new addition, Anna Cruz, scored 16 points, dished out five assists and corralled eight rebounds to guide the Lynx to a dominant home victory.
On July 10th, the two matched up and Chicago won 90-83, Ellen Delle Donne and Cappie Pondexter both netted 24 points in their victory. Tonight, the Lynx held Delle Donne to 14 points and Pondexter to just four points. Anna Cruz netted only six points and four rebounds the last time these two teams faced off.
Tonight, Cruz started for Seimone Augustus - who is out with a knee injury - did nothing but dominate. Despite, playing with Pondexter on the New York Liberty, she showed no mercy for her former teammate, locking her down to only 4 points.
"I'm so familiar with her from abroad, so we talked about it when we knew Seimone wasn't going to play," said Sky head coach and general manager Pokey Chatman. "I used to have to guard her when she played in Spain all the time, so I tried to prepare for that, but converted to a point guard over here in America, we know she has two-guard mentality.
"She's new to this league, but she's not new to professional basketball. She just stepped up and took advantage of every opportunity to get them going early on."
The Chicago Sky started off the game hot, and their momentum seemed to be carrying over from last time the two matched up. They hit four quick shots, giving them the lead early because Minnesota could not buy a basket.
Maya Moore finally gave the Lynx energy and their first basket as she hit a running floater. You could tell Minnesota adjusted their defensive plan against Delle Donne because every time she had the ball there was a double team, and they were not letting anything come easy for her.
Although, they were doing a good job defensively on Delle Donne, the Sky's guards were killing the Lynx offensively. They were consistently left open and knocking down shots from outside.
To gain momentum again, going into the second quarter, Cruz was everywhere offensively and defensively. She was playing like she has been on the team for years. Despite coming to the team about two weeks ago, Cruz fit right in with the Lynx.
She turned it up a notch and was scoring layups left and right, and defensively holding Pondexter to four points in the entire first half. Clearly, all Minnesota needed was a little force to get them going, and that is exactly who and what Anna Cruz was in the first half.
Star Lynx player, Maya Moore, was struggling to score in the beginning of the second quarter, but Cruz and Lindsay Whalen paved the way for them. Whalen hit three back-to-back jump shots cutting the lead 6 with about 5 minutes left.
Cruz was a force to reckoned with especially towards the end of the second quarter; she scored on a beautiful drive to the cup that cut the lead to one. All the while, Chicago's Delle Donne was still scrambling to score, as she only had four points going into halftime.
At the half, the leading scorers for both teams had less than 10. Cruz had 12 points and four rebounds going into halftime.
The Lynx intensity from the last few seconds of the first half carried over to the start of the second half. Asjha Jones hit the first shot of the second half, and Moore swished the first three-pointer of the second half, putting the Lynx up by 1, 39-38.
Jones was a huge post presence for Minnesota, she hit mid-range, easy put-back lay-ups and rebound aggressively. Cruz continued to dish out nice passes, coming off-pick and-rolls and finding the open shooters. Then Moore got hot in the third quarter, and Cruz knew just that, as she continued to feed her the ball.
Besides the beastly performance from Moore tonight, Cruz was a great part of the Lynx success this evening. Cruz is not to be an underestimated player in the WNBA, she is quick, has great court awareness, rebounds, knows when to find the open man and attacks at ease. Her veteran leadership is what helps her fit in with her new team.
"Her first start for us was absolutely terrific, she just gave us so much energy and determination that we fed off of," Coach Reeve stated about Cruz.