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Recap: Coach Reeve’s trust in her Lynx newbies continues to pay off big

On Thursday, the Minnesota Lynx clinched a commanding 58-56 victory over the Phoenix Mercury in a defensive showdown.

Second-year player Lexie Brown has come up big for the Minnesota Lynx off the bench.
Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

The Minnesota Lynx improved 4-1 on the season with a 58-56 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday night at home.

The Mercury fell behind by double digits in the second half but clamped down defensively to keep the Lynx from pulling further ahead. With DeWanna Bonner doing it all for the Mercury, Phoenix steadily closed the gap until they were within two points of a tying the game with about a minute left in the fourth quarter.

But Minnesota took a defensive stand of its own to hold the two-point lead, for the win.

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve kept the faith in her rookies, leaving them on the floor late in the game in a tight contest. Reeve’s trust in her rookies and new players paid off. Napheesa Collier, who scored just four points, was outstanding on defense, coming up with a key rejection late in the game. She also had two steals and four rebounds.

Second-year player Lexie Brown, who played her first season with the Connecticut Sun, was a beast off the bench with 12 points, two assists, two rebounds and one steal. Her 12 points were a career high; she went a splashy 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Odyssey Sims was the team-high score for Minnesota with 15 points.

In the loss, DeWanna Bonner scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished one assist and got one steal for the Mercury, but her efforts were not enough. Bonner had little help from her teammates — all of whom were limited to single-digit scoring, including Britney Griner who scored just four points on three field-goal attempts.

On defense, Griner grabbed seven rebounds and three steals; she also blocked three shots.

Rookie Sophie Cunningham hit a big three-pointer late in the game to keep the Mercury close but without more consistent scoring help for Bonner, the Mercury could not clinch the win.

Next up

The Mercury play the Indiana Fever on Sunday, June 9, on the road. The Minnesota Lynx play the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday, June 8, at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC). Prior to tipoff, the Lynx will retire the jersey of four-time WNBA champion Lindsay Whalen.