MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Seimone Augustus set a career high in assists this season, thanks in large part to teammate Sylvia Fowles’ emergence as an MVP candidate.
Her grandmother had a simple request for her as the playoffs began — “shoot the (expletive) ball,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve recounted.
Augustus scored 24 points and Fowles added 18 to help the Minnesota Lynx roll to a 101-81 victory over the Washington Mystics in Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals on Tuesday night.
Augustus made 11 of 17 shots and the Lynx looked plenty sharp after a week off and playing in an unfamiliar arena. The Lynx will play all of their playoff games at the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena after playing the regular season at Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild.
“I’ve been hearing it all week in practice from coach,” Augustus said. “So it completed my week to hear my grandmother call and say, ‘Shoot the ball, please.’ OK Granny.”
Elena Delle Donne had 17 points for the Mystics, who had a quick turnaround after beating the Liberty in New York on Sunday. After setting a playoff record with nine 3-pointers in the victory over New York on Sunday, Mystics guard Kristi Toliver scored just three points on 1-for-7 shooting.
Minnesota shot 59 percent from the field and set a new franchise playoff record with 12 3-pointers on 17 attempts, blowing the game open after an ugly 6-for-17 start in the first quarter. Maybe it took some time to get a feel for “The Barn,” one of the oldest arenas in the country with a raised floor that gives the court a totally different feel.
“We just got bombarded,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. “I’m not sure they knew we were out there for about 15 minutes.”
The Lynx were initially displaced from Target Center for the entire summer while the building undergoes a massive renovation. They played across the river in St. Paul, but had to vacate when the Wild returned for training camp this month. Team owner Glen Taylor spent about $1 million to upgrade the old building, including adding air conditioning that came in handy on a day where temperatures surpassed 80 degrees.