MINNEAPOLIS — After winning the WNBA Championship last season, the Minnesota Lynx aren't wasting any time.
The Lynx hosted the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night, and immediately reminded a national audience why they won the title last season. After trailing early, the Lynx rallied behind a huge second half to win big 95-76.
The biggest worry for Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, though, had more to do than just the game itself. Before the game Saturday, the Lynx officially received their rings from winning the title last season, and unveiled the championship banner.
In the end, though, Reeve said it worked out.
"I didn't sleep very much last night, because I worry about a ton of things," Reeve said. "Not the least of which was how we were going to be able to enjoy what they deserved to enjoy with their fans, and be able to turn and get ready and play a team that we knew was going to come out and just come out hooping. And that's exactly what happened."
Phoenix opened up the game hot, making its first eight shots on the day. The Lynx, though, were on the other end of the spectrum. Minnesota struggled offensively early, falling into a hole. However, the Lynx forced five turnovers in the opening quarter to stay close, ending the quarter down just two points.
"We knew they was going to come out ready," said Lynx guard Renee Montgomery. "I know a lot of people just got back from overseas, but I knew the focus was going to be there from both sides. I'm glad with the way that the starting group handled it, because if someone hits their first eight shots that can change a game. They handled it well."
Phoenix, who missed just four shots in the opening quarter, couldn't keep the offense rolling in the second quarter. They made just three field goals in the second period, and Minnesota took advantage. Simone Augustus, who played the entire quarter, dropped eight points to push the Lynx to a 52-42 lead at the break.
The Lynx held on to their 10-point lead through the first half of the third quarter, fending off any Mercury comeback attempts. Minnesota extended its lead to 18 late in the quarter, going on a 13-4 run to put them in control of the game. The Lynx didn't let the momentum slip in the fourth quarter, either, and cruised to a 19-point win.
Four out of the five Lynx starters finished in double-figures on Saturday, with Maya Moore leading the way with 27 points and 10 assists. Augustus finished with 21 points, while Sylvia Fowles ended with 17 points and 14 rebounds, her 100th career double-double. Diana Taurasi, who made her return to the WNBA Saturday after a year off, led the Mercury with 18 points.
And while the Lynx won the game, Moore isn't going to get ahead of herself. She knows they need to keep things in perspective, especially with three road games up next on their schedule.
"It's one game," Moore said. "Enjoy it, but we have several more games to play. But at the same time, it's a big game for us. We wanted to play well. We wanted to come out and execute our game plan. Every day when we come out together, whether it's in practice or in a game, we're building momentum, or we're moving backwards.
"I think today we obviously built momentum."