Rosemont, Ill. – Sylvia Fowles played her first seven WNBA seasons for the Chicago Sky.
Then last season she sat out, demanding a trade to the Lynx. The Sky finally acquiesced in July.
So Wednesday afternoon was a homecoming for her, playing at Allstate Arena. And Fowles looked downright comfortable. She scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Lynx defeated the Sky 97-80, pulling away in the fourth quarter to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
“It feels good,” Fowles said of her return. “The fans always treated me with open arms, and it feels good to be back in here and see some familiar faces that I’ve seen for the past seven seasons.”
Those fans saw Fowles perform like usual. The 6-6 center finished with her 101st career double-double. Fowles made 10 of 13 shots from the field, had seven more rebounds than anyone else in the game, and also contributed three assists and two steals.
She also started a key 10-0 run midway through the third quarter. Her three-point play tied the score at 49-49. Then she put the Lynx ahead to stay 51-49 on a layup. Jia Perkins’ three-pointer and Renee Montgomery’s layup made it 56-49.
“I was in a flow,” Fowles said. “It didn’t feel like we went on a 10-0 run, but it was a good flow so when we’re doing everything right it makes everything easy.
Her approach to the game was simple: “Knowing that this was almost going to be like a home game for me, and just focusing in on team and making sure I do what I need to get done,” she said.
The Lynx (2-0) shot 51.4 percent from the field, passed the ball well (27 assists on 36 field goals) and committed only nine turnovers.
“We’ve kind of gotten back to the way we’ve played in past years which is sharing the ball,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We’ve got good players all over the place and if we just make the easy play that leads to that big number in assists.”
Of course, the Sky (1-1) had the WNBA’s third-best record last year and have talented players, too. Elena Delle Donne, the 2015 league MVP, scored 28 points and had six rebounds after missing Chicago’s opener because of an illness. Cappie Pondexter had 18 points and Courtney Vandersloot 11 assists.
“I’m glad we played [the Lynx] early on because they’re a great measuring stick,” Pondexter said. “They’re the defending champions so it’s something that we can learn from and hope to aspire to be this season.”
Said Chicago coach Pokey Chatman: “We let Minnesota get off to a really fast start. … We gave up about 13 transition baskets and when you do that, all the people become relevant that aren’t necessarily players that you’re scheming for and I thought that helped them throughout most of the game.”
Maya Moore added 22 points and six assists for the Lynx. Montgomery had 15 points and five steals, and Seimone Augustus had 10 points and six assists.
“More than anything, [we focused on] just pushing the pace and sharing the ball offensively,” Moore said. “Then making everything hard for some of their key players.”