June 27, 2021
Lynx keep points off turnovers in check and Sylvia Fowles goes off in OT win against Aces
Fowles finished the night with 30 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocks, the first player in WNBA history to do so
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Since the 2011 season, the Minnesota Lynx are 124-4 when holding an opponent to 40% or less from the floor. That run of success continued Friday.
In their 90-89 overtime win against the Las Vegas Aces, the Lynx held the Aces to a 38.5% field goal percentage, their lowest of the season so far.
Although Minnesota had a slow start to the season, a strong showing against the second-place Aces showcased its ability to move past their turnover woes, while also serving as a testament to the phenomenal year Sylvia Fowles is having and giving fans a taste of what Jessica Shepard’s return would look like.
Despite finishing the game with 13 total turnovers, the Lynx took care of the ball more this game than they have recently. The Lynx allowed 17 points off their turnovers, below their season average of 20.7 points off turnovers per game. In the third quarter, the Lynx had just three turnovers — with no points allowed. In overtime, they didn’t commit a single turnover.
The Lynx scored 20 points on their opponent’s 16 turnovers, which tied the Aces’ season high number of turnovers in a game.
On-floor contribution was spread across the starters, including forward Napheesa Collier’s first season double-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high 8 assists.
Guard Layshia Clarendon finished with a season-high 20 points and 7 assists, marking back-to-back games with at least seven assists.
It couldn’t be more fitting that the Lynx’s first points of the game were scored by Sylvia Fowles and that the win was secured by Fowles’ rebound deflection to Kayla McBride off a missed Lynx shot in the final seconds of overtime.
Fowles finished the night with 30 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocks, becoming the first player in WNBA league history to record such a stat line. This was her sixth career game with 30+ points and 10+ rebounds.
At the beginning of the season, the strategy to help keep Fowles healthy was Cheryl Reeve actively managing her time on the court.
“I just told her, you just go play and I’m going to manage you. I don’t want her coming in everyday thinking about kind of being half in and half out and that sort of thing.” Reeve said on an episode of her podcast, The Cheryl Reeve Show.
This strategy, rightfully so, has gone out the window. Fowles played 40 minutes against the Aces.
“I think it [sounded good] when we first started [managing minutes], and then it got to the point where I didn’t like [that] Cheryl [would] come to practice like [you’re] only gonna play this many minutes or come into the games and be like, you can play this many minutes and then it just got frustrating at that point,” said Fowles. “I’m like, when I’m tired, take me out. If I can go and you see that I can go, leave me in. And so now it’s just to the point where if [I’m] doing good, [Reeve is] just gonna leave [me] in type thing. If [I] need to go, we’ll call timeout.”
Fowles is almost averaging a double-double each game, with 17.4 points and 9.9 rebounds a game.
“I’m so in awe of her,” said Collier. “I mean, especially [playing] 14 years. It’s unbelievable what she can do night after night. She is one of a kind. It’s so fun to watch it. I’m so honored to be her teammate and be able to watch this day in and day out.”
The Lynx victory also included the return of Jessica Shepard, who has missed the last five games due to a right mild adductor strain. Shepard finished the game playing just shy of 11 minutes with 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
“Jess rebounded the ball in the limited minutes she had, at both ends. And then we saw Jess’s ability to pass the ball, you know, really came out. And that’s what I wanted her to do. I said [to her], ‘play to your identity, that’s your identity.’ You know, those extra possessions and passing the ball. But I thought Jess’s minutes were vital,” said Coach Reeve.
The Lynx now 7-7 for the season and go on the road for back-to-back games against the Phoenix Mercury, looking for redemption after losing their home opener to the Mercury at the start of the season.