It was not a pretty game.

There had to have been times, sitting on the Lynx bench with a walking boot on her sore left foot, that even Napheesa Collier might have wanted to look away.

"It was gritty," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "Ugly. All those things. But it was a 'W.' "

It was that. Playing without their star all night, playing without their shooting touch for much of the night, defensively challenged for two-plus quarters, the Lynx managed to grind out a 74-67 victory over Washington at Target Center on Saturday night.

It came despite the Lynx shooting 38.6% for the night, despite Minnesota being outscored 27-6 from early in the second quarter into the third.

But when Collier left Thursday's loss to Connecticut after aggravating the plantar fascia in her left foot, both Kayla McBride and Courtney Williams said they would have Collier's back.

For a night, they did.


"It never felt like we were winning," said Williams, whose 17 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals helped them do just that. McBride had 17 as well. Bridget Carleton helped dial up the Lynx's aggression, scoring 10 of her 13 points in the second half. Cecilia Zandalasini had 10 off the bench, five in the third.

But they did. The Lynx (15-6) won for the first time in three games. But what looked like an easy victory early on later turned into a battle.

The Lynx hit five of 10 threes and feasted on Mystics turnovers while building a 14-point lead early in the second quarter. From there until early in the third, Minnesota went 0-for-10 on threes and 3-for-19 overall and turned the ball over seven times while being outscored 27-6 to fall behind 43-36 early in the third. But credit the Lynx reserves for getting the game close after three.

And credit the Lynx defense, finally arriving. Washington (5-17) shot 50% and made seven of 21 threes through three quarters. In the fourth, the Mystics scored 10 points and made four of 18 shots, none of their seven threes.

"We didn't like the second quarter much at all," Reeve said. "Our lack of toughness at the defensive end was not acceptable. In the second half, we brought it. And we closed it out in the fourth."

The Mystics led by two after Stefanie Dolson's three-point play with 8:09 left.

At the other end, Diamond Miller missed, but Alissa Pili got the offensive board — one of the Lynx's 13 — and got the ball to Dorka Juhász, who got her only two points of the game to go with 11 rebounds. After Shatori Walker-Kimbrough missed, up against the shot clock, Williams hit a 20-footer. Walker-Kimbrough missed again, then Williams fed McBride for a three-pointer, putting the Lynx up five with 6:48 left. Washington got within three a couple of times, but Carleton's three with 5:04 left put the Lynx up six and in control.

Without Collier, Williams took on more scoring and more leadership, emphatically leading the team's huddle in timeouts.

"That was huge for us with Phee out," Carleton said. "Phee is usually the voice, but Courtney can step into that role."

Everyone had a role in this one. On the day she was announced as a member of the Australian Olympic team, Alanna Smith, though feeling sick, had seven points, two blocks, eight rebounds and three assists.

BOXSCORE: Lynx 74, Washington 67

With Walker-Kimbrough and Arial Atkins both scoring 15 points and five Mystics players in double figures, with the Lynx shooting under 40%, the Lynx turned their 13 offensive boards — Smith had four of them — into 10 extra attempts. Their defense turned a tight game their way thanks to a 19-10 fourth quarter.

The Lynx could be without Collier for a while. After the game, Reeve said the Lynx would do the right thing by Collier with the idea of having her ready to play in the Olympics for Team USA. It's best, Reeve said, to take it day by day with four games left before the break. "It's something she's used to dealing with," Reeve said. "At the same time she has a goal."