Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Phoenix coach: Lynx look like repeat champions

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Lynx Updated: June 28, 2012 - 9:55 AM

Phoenix coach Corey Gaines is blunt and outspoken.

Last season he said his Mercury veteran team with Diana Taurasi,  Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree could beat the Lynx in the playoffs. "We are a veteran team, we don't need home court" to win a playoff series, he said.

The Lynx, of course, swept the Mercury in two games. Winning the first game at Target Center, the second in Arizona.

Gaines has a much different view now.

"That's the type of team you can't [shut down]," Gaines said after the Lynx beat Phoenix 96-80 on Wednesday night in Target Center before the third 9,000-plus crowd in a row. "It's a great team, a champion. It looks like they're on their way to another one."

He meant an WNBA title.

The Mercury (3-9) will be fortunate to even make the playoffs. Taurasi (left hip flexor) has played in only two games. Taylor was not going to be with the Mercury until after the Olympics -- she was going to be training with Australia's national team -- but she won't play for Phoenix at all. She is recovering from a torn ACL injury.

Dupree, the team's third leading scorer last season behind Taurasi and Taylor, has missed the last three games with a knee contusion. So has Nakia Sanford, the other starting forward along with Dupree, with the same injury suffered in the same game.

So Phoenix had eight healthy players for Wednesday and started two former Lynx: Charde Houston at forward and Alexis Hornbuckle at guard.

Last season, Houston was 10th out of 11 Lynx players in minutes played at 7.8 per game, Hornbuckle was 11th, 7.2. On depleted Phoenix, they started against the Lynx.

After his team's latest loss Gaines, according to a Lynx news release, said this about his team, "They're playing hard. They're doing the best they can. I mean, they're playing hard. They've got young players, young point guard [Samantha Prahalis], other players but they're doing okay."

Prahalis had 20 points, DeWanna Bonner a game-high 23 for the Mercury.

"[Bonner] shoots threes well," Gaines said. "Usually she's open because she's playing and either big is guarding her and they're helping out on the drive or something. So she's doing what she's supposed to do."

Bonner, a skinny, 6-4 forward, was not happy with her team's effort.  "They got a lot of offensive rebounds," she said. "I don't know what the 'O' boards were but I'm pretty sure they killed us on the 'O' boards."

The Lynx outrebounded the Mercury 45-31. So for the 13th time in 14 games, the Lynx won that category. Only Chicago has outrebounded the Lynx.

As for offensive boards, the Lynx had 13, the Mercury eight.

"You know we weren't hungry for the ball," Bonner said. "We didn't go get the ball like we usually do, and that kind of hurt us as well. They got a lot of second-chance points."

"We've just got to put four quarters together. We haven't done that yet. Once we do that one time, I think we'll find a way to do that and continue to do that to get some wins."

Said Prahalis, "We had a slow third quarter. We could've attacked them a bit more. Yeah, I think a lapse or two, and they're a good team. so they hurt us on that."

The story on the Lynx-Mercury game in Thurrsday's Star Tribune is here.

* Only one other team has started 13-1 in WNBA history. That was Houston in 1998, the second year of the WNBA. The Comets actually got to 20-1 before they lost their second game that season. They finished 27-3 in the regular season. That's a winning percentage of .900, the best in league history.

The Lynx, at 13-1, have a .928 winning percentage. Their next opponent is San Antonio on Sunday in Texas. The Silver Stars (5-5) are 3-1 in their last five games after a slow start. They play Los Angeles (10-5) at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at home.

* The Lynx are now averaging 9,070 fans per game.

NO PRACTICE THURSDAY

Lynx have an off day today, as Seimone Augustus tweets:

 

 

 

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OLYMPIC QUALIFYING UPDATE

Four of the 12 teams in the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament are out after pool play. Going home from Ankara, Turkey, are Mali, Mozambique, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.

Friday's quarterfinal pairings are:

Turkey vs. Argentina

Croatia vs. Canada

Czech Republic vs. Japan

France vs. Korea

The four winners get sports in the London Summer Games, starting in late July. The four losers Friday play off for the final spot in the 12-team field.

Scores from the third day:

Japan 79, Puerto Rico 70

Czech Republic 68, Argentina 54

Croatia 83, Korea 75

France 87, Mali 33

* The U.S. team is in a group in London with Angola and China. The other three teams in that group will come from this qualifying tournament in Ankara. ... Turkey, the host country, has never qualified for the Olympics, but is on the verge of doing so. Quanitra Hollingsworth, a former Lynx center, is one of the Turks' top players. She is an American who has become a Turkish citizen.

 

 

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