Led by a pair of standout rookie performances, the Minnesota Lynx used a strong second half to shut down the Chicago Sky in Saturday night’s season opener, 89-71.
In her WNBA debut, Napheesa Collier led all scorers with 27 points, with her final line also including six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. It was the second-highest scoring total in a rookie debut in WNBA history, after Candace Parker’s 34-point debut in 2008. Collier shot 80 percent from the floor, including 3-for-4 from three.
While the Sky came out strong to open the first quarter, ending it with a 24-22 advantage, Minnesota didn’t let them score above 20 points in the next two quarters. This also affected Chicago point guard Courtney Vandersloot’s still-prolific assists output: Though Vandersloot finished with a game-high eight assists, seven came in the first half, with five in the first quarter alone.
The Lynx had five total players score in double figures. In addition to Collier, Sylvia Fowles notched her first double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Danielle Robinson scored 13 points, Odyssey Sims had 11 and Lexie Brown added 10 off the bench.
the Sky ain't the limit.— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) May 26, 2019
Game 1 highlights ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/J3llgaI9zf
Rookie Jessica Shepard’s 13-rebound performance was also notable for the Lynx — it helped the team out-rebound the Sky 46-29, with a 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass. Shepard and Fowles combined for 10 of those 17 offensive rebounds, which led to a 20-4 advantage in second-chance points.
Playing in their first regular-season game under new head coach James Wade, the Sky were led by Gabby Williams’ and Kahleah Copper’s 11 points apiece and Allie Quigley and Jantel Lavender’s 10 points apiece. Stefanie Dolson’s seven rebounds led Chicago, while Cheyenne Parker had the team’s only three blocks.
Up next: Minnesota hosts Seattle on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, CBSSN). Chicago also hosts Seattle, but on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, League Pass).