MINNEAPOLIS — Napheesa Collier scored 27 points, the second most in WNBA history by a rookie in her debut, and the new-look Minnesota Lynx pulled away from the Chicago Sky in the second half for an 89-71 win in the season-opener for both teams Saturday night.
Collier, who was the sixth pick in the draft this year, was short of Candace Parker's record 34-point effort in her first game with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008. The Lynx hardly missed perennial MVP Maya Moore, who is sitting out this season, as Collier hit 8 of her 10 shots, including three 3-pointers. Minnesota is also adjusting to the retirement of long-time guard Lindsay Whalen, who will have her number retired later this season.
Veteran Sylvia Fowles added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Lynx with Danielle Robinson scoring 13 points and Jessica Shepard grabbing 13 rebounds. Minnesota had a 46-29 advantage on the boards.
Collier overshadowed her former UConn teammates Katie Lou Samuelson, the fourth overall pick in the draft. Samuelson made her only shot and both her free throws to score four points off the bench for Chicago.
Gabby Williams and Kahleah Cooper had 11 points apiece for the Sky, who trailed 46-40 at the half but were outscored 24-10 in the third quarter.