Minneapolis, MN — For a team that has not played in nine days, the Minnesota Lynx had little signs of rust in Game 1 of the 2017 WNBA Semifinals. The top-seeded Lynx had a bye through the first two rounds, and faced off against the same team they last played in their final game of the regular season on September 3, the Washington Mystics.
The league runner-ups from a season ago made nearly 60 percent of the field goals through the first three quarters, including 75 percent of their threes, an offensive barrage that would be hard for any team to withstand. The Lynx snatched Game 1 of the Semifinals on their “home” floor, 101-81, marking the fourth time in five games Minnesota has scored 100 points.
Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus combined for 56 points, and were the only Lynx in double-figures besides Renee Montgomery, who added 18 of her own. Elena Delle Donne had a quiet 17 points in the loss.
After seven lead changes in the early part of the first quarter, it was all about Minnesota’s ability to string buckets together in bunches. The Lynx went on a 16-4 run over the last five minutes of the first period, and carried that momentum into the second quarter.
“We were obviously ready to play,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We were anxious, we hadn’t played in so long. I was sure that they were tired of hearing from me and tired of being at practice. They played with energy and obviously we made shots. When you make shots, everything is good.”
The Lynx lead would grow to as many as 11 before Emma Meesseman picked up her play on the offensive end. Meesseman scored all 12 of her first half points in the second quarter, providing a spark for a Washington team that desperately needed one. Meesseman finished with 15 points.
Minnesota would see their advantage shrivel to just three points with a little over six minutes left, before going on a 23-11 run to close the half thanks to ten-straight made baskets. The Mystics had no answer on defense, giving Moore, Fowles and Augustus way too much space to operate.
“I’m not sure they even knew we were out there for 15 minutes,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. “There’s not a lot you can say. I thought we started out well, but they have an edge to them and I thought that we played a little bit on our heels.”
The Lynx’s 15-point halftime edge would only grow in the third, with Washington seemingly unable to keep up with the Lynx’s red-hot offense. Augustus was sensational in the second and third quarters, scoring 11 of her season-high 24 in the third.
As if connecting on double-digit consecutive field goals wasn't enough from the second into the third, Minnesota then hit a record nine-straight threes in the third to open up a 27-point lead. Washington would never get within 18 points the rest of the night.
“The game plan is to take what they give you,” Reeve said. “Sylvia got to the point where it was getting crowded down there and it was difficult for her to make reads. I thought Sylvia had great patience tonight. She knew when to try and be strong and powerful and get a shot up, and when to kick it back out to a shooter that was standing there.”
The word “home” has an interesting meaning for the Lynx, who will be playing the rest of their home playoff games at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota while the Target Center gets renovated.
Their new home saw a familiar face return to the court where she played her college basketball. Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen played in her first game since August 3, missing 12 games with a broken hand. Whalen played limited minutes as she was eased back into action, finishing with two points in 17 minutes.