MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Lynx turned a meeting of the best teams in the WNBA into a mismatch.
Monica Wright, playing in the place of injured star Seimone Augustus, scored a season-high 22 points to help the Lynx rout the Atlanta Dream 94-72 on Tuesday night. Lindsay Whalen added 20 points for Minnesota (9-3), which never trailed and extended its home winning streak to 15 games.
“(Wright) was great and it’s not a surprise to us when she steps into the starting lineup and does this for us,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. “She was really pleased with her defense and her overall game. And this game was for Seimone.”
Angel McCoughtry scored 16 points to lead Atlanta (10-2), which was playing for the first time in July. The Dream had a night filled with uncharacteristic defensive lapses, losing for the first time since June 9. They entered the game as the league’s top defensive team only to see Minnesota shoot better than 60 percent in the first half. The 94 points were the most surrendered by Atlanta this season.
“It must have been (rust). We missed a lot of shots,” McCoughtry said. “It’s just one of those things where we’ll get it again. We’ll be all right. We’re still number one in the league, and you can’t take anything away from this team with the way we’ve played so far.”
Augustus suffered a sprained left ankle in Minnesota’s home win over Phoenix on Sunday. Reeve said Augustus will travel with the team on their four-game road trip to Indiana, Tulsa, San Antonio and Phoenix, but gave no timetable for her return to the court. In the Lynx locker room, the message was clear that this win was for Augustus.
“Any time one of our teammates goes down, we take it upon ourselves to do more,” Wright said. “Those are tough shoes to fill. We wanted to make sure we got that win for her tonight.”
Minnesota got 17 first half points from Moore and another 16 from Whalen to lead 56-39 at the break. Moore hit six of her seven shots in the first 20 minutes, including a trio of three-pointers as Minnesota led by as many as 19. The 56 points was the most allowed in a half by the Dream this season. Sancho Lyttle led Atlanta with nine points in the first half, as the Dream shot just 38 percent before halftime.
“I told the team before that this would be a game where we’d have to learn from some experiences, and that’s one,” Dream coach Fred Williams said. “You had a playoff-type atmosphere with the crowd, and with our younger players, they’re getting some experience dealing with that. We’re just going to build on it and keep on moving.”
Atlanta, which had won six in a row coming into the meeting with the Lynx, had not played a game since June 30. There was some debate on Tuesday about whether the layoff would be extended, as a water main break adjacent to Target Center left the arena with no water until just a few hours before the game.