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Wings 95, Lynx 77: The Marina Mabrey Show

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After being held scoreless on Thursday, Marina Mabrey sunk the Lynx with a career-high 28 points on Saturday night.

Minnesota Lynx v Dallas Wings Photo by Cooper Neill/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Story

From the jump, the Dallas Wings came ready to let it fly.

Dallas’s star guard Arike Ogunbowale was held scoreless in the first half of round one, and came out firing on all cylinders, scoring eight of the Wings’ first 18 points and nearly out-scoring the Lynx through the first 6:14 of the game.

Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve credited her performance to her teammates getting off to a hot start from 3.

“I’ve been a part of those games where all it takes is one person to get hot and then all of a sudden the basket looks really, really big. Arike was feeding off that a little bit,” Reeve said.

Moriah Jefferson — who is shooting a career-high 45.8 percent from 3 — hit the first of a Wings’ franchise-record 17 3s, and wing Kayla Thornton followed her up with one of her own to take a 10-7 lead, which they never relinquished. Allisha Gray and Tyasha Harris got in on the first-quarter barrage themselves, too.

The final result was five different Wings players making 3s en route to a six-of-10 3-point shooting performance in the first frame.

Minnesota struggled to find an offensive rhythm despite shooting it well early in the quarter because of their season-long issue with turnovers. The Wings turned them over five times with a combination of ball pressure as soon as the Lynx crossed half court, crowding ball-handlers above the 3-point line, and rotating very well defensively. Consequently, Minnesota had far too many one- or no-pass shots, rushed possessions and simply played in a tight manner, which set the tone for their offense the rest of the game.

Most Improved Player candidate Marina Mabrey didn’t let a scoreless night on Thursday stop her from adding to her already-strong campaign on Saturday night. After seeing the ball go through the hoop with five points from the free throw line in the first quarter, Mabrey started to see her shot drop in the second quarter.

And so did her teammates. The Wings shot five-of-eight from 3 in the second quarter, taking them to 11-of-18 in the first half alone, which put the Lynx in a 20-point hole entering the half, 55-35.

But just before the horn sounded, Rachel Banham secured some much-needed momentum entering the half with a ridiculous buzzer-beater from the far end of the Wings logo.

Coming out of the break, Minnesota went on a 9-2 run, fueled by Napheesa Collier finding a rhythm inside. Phee made a couple layups and then converted an and-1 off a put-back to cap off the run, bringing the Dallas lead down to just 13 with 7:20 left in the quarter.

From there, Banham and Crystal Dangerfield picked up the slack. The sharpshooting backcourt was at it again, throwing haymakers at an opponent with a big lead.

They shot a collective five-of-five from the floor and four-of-four from deep, which prevented the Wings from regaining firm control of the game.

The Lynx threw punch after punch in the third, but the Wings, like heavyweight boxer with a strong chin, just kept coming right back with punches of their own.

Mabrey was the primary culprit. After Dangerfield and Banham made 3s to cut the lead back to 12, she hit right back with 3s of her own, stretching it back out to 15 each time.

I asked Collier after the game how tough it is mentally as a team to withstand a team punching right back and keeping a lead.

“It’s really tough. Like I said, it’s really hard because at that point, we were down by a lot going into halftime, about 20 points. We let them get their fires lit,” Collier said. “So, with players like that, especially with Arike and Marina, once they see shots going down early like that, their confidence builds even more and then, anything they throw up goes in. It’s hard to stop the bleeding if we allow that to happen in the beginning.”

Like Phee put it, It sure felt like everything they threw up was going in, and that didn’t stop in the fourth quarter.

Mabrey opened the Wings scoring with a 3, and scored their first nine points of the quarter. When the Lynx defense made good close-outs to her, she would make the right play and create offense for her teammates when they needed it most. Mabrey had her fingerprints all over this game and simply wouldn’t let it go, no matter how hard the Lynx fought to wrestle it away.

In the end, the Lynx fell 95-77.

Game Highlights

Game Notes

  • Napheesa Collier has now shot 100% from the free-throw line (min 5 attempts) on four occasions this season and is 12-of-12 in her last three games.
  • With her first rebound of the night, Sylvia Fowles registered in her 3,500th career rebound. As the W’s all-time leading rebounder, she is the first player in WNBA history to reach the 3,500 mark.
  • With two more 3-pointers tonight, Damiris Dantas passed Amber Jacobs (96) for seventh on the Lynx all-time 3-pointers made list.
  • After beginning the season one-of-11 from deep, Rachel Banham has now made 16 of her last 21 triples. The Lakeville native is now shooting a career-high 51.5 percent from deep on a career-high 2.8 3-point attempts per game.

What’s Next

The Lynx continue their three-game road trip with a stop in Atlanta, looking for a season sweep against the Dream on Wednesday at 6:00 PM CT. The game can be viewed on Bally Sports North+.