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Recap: For the Sun, it was a Saturday afternoon barbecue

On the grill? Lynx meat. Connecticut snagged an impressive 89-75 victory over the reigning WNBA champs. The win was solar-powered in part by Courtney Williams.

Sun guard Courtney Williams had 22 reasons to smile on Saturday.
WNBA/Connecticut Sun

The lone WNBA matchup on Saturday provided plenty of juicy morsels for basketball fans to feast on — a Lynx cooking in the open fire of the Sun. Let’s break it down:

3 reasons the Sun won

  1. Courtney Williams. The second-year guard, known for her quick hands and ability to thrive in transition, powered the Sun forward with 22 points.
  2. 11:11. And it’s not just a song by indie darling Andrew Bird — it’s a double-double by Chiney Ogwumike: a master of double duties. Ogwumike had 11 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday.
  3. Jasmine tea. Tea, as in Thomas, who scored 18 points for Connecticut on Saturday.

Are the Sun the real deal? Absolutely. With the win, Connecticut remains #1 in the standings with a 7-1 record to date. The Sun are one game ahead of the Seattle Storm and 1.5 games ahead of the Phoenix Mercury — both of whom have skyrocketed in recent weeks. With buzzer-beating behemoth Shekinna Stricklen also scoring in double digits on Saturday, and Alyssa Thomas grabbing 11 rebounds to go with her 7 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, the Sun have demonstrated an ability to win on the strength of any player on the roster, which makes them the team to beat going forward.

2 reasons the Lynx lost

  1. Lindsay Whalen. The multi-champ for the Lynx has become a liability to her team. The causes of her struggles have not been reported, but it is easy enough to deduce that she is distracted with her University of Minnesota head coaching duties, or playing through injury, or just playing her way into game conditioning. This is not a knock against Whalen, but an acknowledgment of human limitations when it comes to working two full-time jobs. In 17 minutes, Whalen scored 0 points, grabbed 1 rebound, snagged 1 steal and dished 0 assists. The good news? Whalen did not commit any turnovers.
  2. Reeve’s old-guard mentality. For all of her brilliance, Head Coach Cheryl Reeve’s assertion that there is no need to push the panic button seems a bit short-sighted. With the powerful rookies and dominant play by women on unsuspecting teams, Reeve is running out of time to “figure this out,” as she claimed would happen. The Lynx’s one win to snap a four-game slide was a glimmer of hope, but not hope itself — and hope does not win championships. Reeve would be well-served to bench Whalen or release her to perform the duties of her new job. That would require bringing in new talent or developing semi-new talent already on the roster. Either way, this ain’t working.

Are the Lynx a done deal? Basically. Sylvia Fowles did her part, notching a 20-point, 14 rebound double-double. Maya Moore scored a respectable 17 points, while stealing the ball 4 times. But the only other player in double digits was Ceclia Zandalasini (11 points), while once-reliable stalwarts Rebekkah Brunson and Seimone Augustus scored 4 points and 2 points, respectively. At age 37, Brunson may be in the midst of her last season. So, the question for the Lynx will be whether Reeve adheres to loyalty to players for winnings past or begins to invest in the possibility of a winning future — whether by tanking the season and/or releasing Whalen to pursue her new career wholeheartedly.

Final score: Sun (89) vs. Lynx (75)

Bonus points

The Sun have some numerology magic happening:

  • 22 points (Williams)
  • 11 points (Ogwumike)
  • 11 rebounds (Ogwumike).

Did the players go out into a cornfield and howl into the sun?