It says something about this surprising young team that, as the injury list grows, so does the list of Lynx victories.
Wednesday it happened again. With Sylvia Fowles joined on the bench by guards Rachel Banham and Odyssey Sims, the Lynx beat the Dallas Wings 91-84 and improved to 8-3 at the midpoint of this condensed, in-the-bubble season being played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Down 15 points with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, the Lynx outscored Dallas 45-23 the rest of the way, getting contributions from up and down the roster. It is the largest deficit the Lynx have overcome to win in five years, since trailing Atlanta by 16 in August 2015.
“Great win for us,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Dallas is incredibly difficult to guard. They were coming off a huge win over Phoenix. I’m pleased how we hung in there, found something.”
The Lynx turned up the dial on offense, making 15 of their final 22 shots. And, with a smaller lineup that included rookie Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Napheesa Collier playing together and switching rather than trying to run through screens, the defense locked down the Wings, holding them to 5-for-16 shooting over the final 10 minutes.
The Lynx hit 14 of 23 three-pointers, including eight of 11 in the second half.
Furthering Reeve’s bid to win Basketball Executive of the Year for the second consecutive season, rookie point guard Crystal Dangerfield — a second-round pick — scored 21 points, hit five of seven threes and had six assists. Napheesa Collier hit all three of her threes, scoring 18. Just as important: Herbert Harrigan scored 10 points with eight boards, two steals and a block, leading a bench that scored 32 of its 34 points in the second half.
Afterward Collier was referring to Herbert Harrigan as Kiki McBuckets and was doing a side job as Dangerfield’s campaign manager for rookie of the year.
“It was just doing what we know how to do,” Collier said about the comeback. “Once we got down, it was because we weren’t doing that.”
The Wings were leading 61-46 when Arike Ogunbowale — the league’s leading scorer — made a layup with 4:20 left in the third.
After that? All Lynx. Shenise Johnson and Kayla Alexander each had three-point plays and Collier and Herberg Harrigan hit three-pointers as the Lynx ended the third quarter on a 15-4 run. And they kept going. Dangerfield and Johnson hit threes early in the fourth, tying the score. Then Herbert Harrigan hit one, putting the Lynx up three with 7:18 left. The Wings rallied to tie the score at 76-76.
But then Dangerfield hit two free throws. Herbert Harrigan stole the ball and scored. After Ogunbowale missed a three, Collier hit one of her own, from 27 feet, and the Lynx were up 83-76 and never lost control again.
Ogunbowale finished with 20 points, but she needed 23 shots. Dallas (4-8) also got 22 points from Allisha Gray and 16 from Marina Mabrey.
“It started on the defensive end,” Dangerfield said. “We were giving up easy looks, fouling, letting them get into the lane. We wanted to make sure we got stops, and executed down on the offensive end.”
If it started with defense, it ended with offense, with a team that stopped trying to get into the lane every time and started kicking the ball out. Seven players hit at least one three.
And those two rookies?
“Kiki makes everything she takes,” Collier said. “And, Crystal for Rookie of the Year.”
The Star Tribune will not be traveling to Florida for NBA and WNBA coverage. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.