MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Lynx appeared headed for an easy afternoon before Chicago got off to a fast start in the second half to make it close. However, the defending champions then pulled away again.
Lindsay Whalen scored 25 points, Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 12, and Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore had 10 each to lead the Lynx to a 79-67 victory over the Sky on Saturday.
All of Augustus’s points came in the second half as Minnesota (12-1) won its second straight after it’s only loss of the season last Sunday.
Down by 17 points at halftime, Chicago (7-3) scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to pull to 51-46. Moore scored Minnesota’s first points of the second half more than 7 minutes into the frame and added a 3-pointer the next time down the floor. Augustus made a 3-pointer to give the Lynx a 62-51 lead.
“I felt like we were still getting pretty good shots,” Whalen said. “We just needed one to go in and then after that we got a couple fast breaks and were able to make plays out of that. Somebody just had to step up and make that first shot.”
Augustus finished off a 2-on-1 with Whalen for an easy basket before a spin move and layup by Whalen gave the Lynx a 66-52 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Sky didn’t get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Sylvia Fowles had her ninth double-double in 10 games for Chicago, with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Sonja Petrovic added 13 points and Swin Cash 11 for the Sky, who committed 24 turnovers and lost its second straight to fall to second place in the Eastern Conference.
“You give Minnesota credit,” Cash said. “They did some good things out there, but a lot of it is what we can control. … We have to go out there and really lock in and focus on not being so turnover prone.”
Chicago played its first game without leading scorer Epiphanny Prince. The guard, who was averaging 22.3 points per game, is expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks with a broken bone in her right foot, which she injured last Saturday.
“Piph made it easier for us because she was knocking down shots from the outside, so it made a threat from the inside presence to the outside,” Fowles said. “Everybody’s just got to step up. Things happen like that. … You still have to step up and play your game.”
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said it was Whalen’s best all-around game of the season.
“My mindset going into this game was I needed Lindsay Whalen to be good off the pick and roll and get some easy stuff. … She got the game ball today.”
Whalen scored five points in a 14-4 run to give the Lynx a 23-8 first quarter lead. She scored seven straight points late in the first half for a 48-34 lead.
“We know anybody can step up on this team. When we play as a team really good things happen,” Whalen said. “I just wanted to be aggressive.”
Both teams wore commemorative uniforms to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Title IX, the federal law that pushed forward sports participation for women and girls.