The Lynx shooters couldn't buy a bucket if they wanted to tonight. The guards shot a paltry 6-26 from the field, which isn't typically a recipe for success. That is unless you have Sylvia Fowles backing you up. Minnesota dominated the paint on their way to their sixth straight victory, this one over the Seattle Storm, 79-72.
"[Sylvia] was just outstanding, she carried us, she willed us. She had 10 deflections in the game of the 25 that we had. She was just very engaged," head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game. Fowles was like the big sister on the playground. The team was getting bullied, and she came in to shut that down. Her physicality wore down the young Breanna Stewart on both offense and defense, though, Rebekkah Brunson was the primary defender on her. The Storm's number one pick in Stewart shot just 3-14 from the field while matching up with the Lynx front court.
The team went to the paint early, scoring 12 of their 23 first quarter points in the lane. Fowles nearly played the whole frame and she was perfect. She had eight points without missing shot and grabbed three boards. You could see early on that this was going to be her night. As imposing as she can be, Fowles has had games where she didn't make as much of an impact as she could have. That wasn't the case in this one as she remained aggressive on offense and defense throughout the game.
It wasn't until the second quarter when the Lynx shooters went cold. They let a 10-point lead after the first dip to only a two-point lead at half because the team shot 33.3 percent from the field. Maya Moore and Fowles accounted for 11 of the team's 15 points that quarter despite only taking six shots combined. Overall, the team played great defense as a unit in the first half which helped. They scored 13 points off nine turnovers but still felt the Storm breathing down their necks.
However, as she has done most games this year, Moore took over in the third. She didn't shoot well from the field (1-6) but she made all eight of her free throws to give her 10 points in the quarter. Her aggressiveness helped reset the tone for the team and she was all over the boards as well, grabbing five in the third. The team took a 13-point lead into the final frame because of her willingness to attack the basket.
In the end, it was Natasha Howard that helped seal the game. In another uber efficient performance, she tallied 14 points in just 15 minutes. She scored six of those off her three offensive rebounds and had eight points in the last quarter alone. The trade with the Indiana Fever that brought her here was one of the best moves made by a WNBA team this past offseason. It helps when she has these great teammates but she raised her true shooting percentage by nearly 20 points from last season to this one. She may not get big minutes, but she makes them count and Reeve loves her for that.
Moore ended the game with 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Fowles finished with another double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. She and Howard were a combined 15-20 from the field which offset the poor jump shooting.
The Lynx have now won six in a row and enter the Olympic break at 21-4. It's not entirely accurate to call it a "break." A third of the team will be traveling to Rio to represent Team USA. Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Moore and Fowles don't get much rest here. "We have practice tomorrow. We fly, land in L.A. and practice tomorrow," Reeve said after the game. Hopefully those four will get to show off some gold to their teammates when they get back. The team returns to action August 26th on the road against the Connecticut Sun.