Led by Augustus, Lynx find redemption

  • Article by: Pam Schmid
  • Star Tribune
  • June 18, 2006 - 10:24 PM

The Lynx didn't have it two nights earlier at San Antonio, when they got blown out by 30. They didn't have it two nights before that, when they let one slip away at home against Seattle.

Sunday night, before an announced Target Center crowd of 5,596, they finally got it back.

"We had that fire in our eyes," rookie Seimone Augustus said after her team rolled to a 94-82 victory over Phoenix. "We didn't want to lose."

The Lynx desperately needed this one. A loss would have sent them tumbling into the Western Conference cellar with a third of their season behind them and four of their next five games coming on the road. By winning, they climbed to 5-6 and within a game of fourth-place Sacramento.

By beating the WNBA's highest-scoring team, the Lynx reversed two trends from their 90-60 rout at San Antonio. The same team that got throttled in the post against the Silver Stars did the same thing to the Mercury, outscoring it 54-24 in the paint and outrebounding it 43-28.

"I think a lot of us were embarrassed in that other game [against San Antonio]," said center Nicole Ohlde, who bounced back from a two-game slump with a season-high 22 points Sunday. "The last couple games, we weren't ourselves, we weren't aggressive. I think we established ourselves early today."

The game matched the league's top draft picks, Augustus and the Mercury's Cappie Pondexter. The rookie guards, who came in with identical 22.1-point scoring averages, spent most of the game defending each other.

Pondexter finished with 22 points, but Augustus got the better of the matchup, tying her career high of 32 points after a career-low seven points in San Antonio.

Afterward, both players insisted the rookie-of-the-year battle was the last thing on their minds.

"I let everyone else enjoy it, keep the hype going, but between us, it's just basketball," said Augustus, the top overall draft pick. "It was just two competitive people going at each other. ... When she wanted to, she took the ball to me, and when I felt like I needed to make a play, I took it to her."

The Lynx came in knowing they were facing two of the league's most dangerous players in Pondexter and Diana Taurasi, the WNBA scoring leader. Although the pair combined for 45 points, they started the game a combined 4-for-12 as the Lynx took control early.

Tamika Williams' aggressive inside play set the tone for the Lynx. The 6-2 veteran scored eight of her 10 first-quarter points off her own offensive rebounds, and she finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, both season highs.

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