Augustus, Lynx bury Mystics in Game 1 of semis

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — Seimone Augustus scored 24 points and Sylvia 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.

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.

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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.

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.

Renee Montgomery added 18 points and hit 4 of 5 3s for the Lynx, who led by 29 in the third quarter.

Toliver goes missing

After playing a key role in the Los Angeles Sparks’ victory over the Lynx in the WNBA Finals last season, Toliver scored 32 points and rallied the Mystics from a 14-point deficit to beat New York on Sunday. But she couldn’t find any room to breathe against a determined Lynx defense and went scoreless over the final 35 minutes of the game.

Augustus shines

Augustus has enjoyed a renaissance season in year No. 12, shooting 43 percent from 3-point range and 51 percent from the field while feasting on the open looks created when defenses collapse on Fowles in the paint. She is also averaging a career-high 4.0 assists and has more closely resembled the offensive dynamo she was earlier in her career.

She added five rebounds and three assists on Tuesday night.

Whalen returns

Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen scored two points in 16 minutes after missing the final 12 games of the regular season with a broken left hand. Whalen started and had two assists but was clearly knocking the rust off.

Whalen did not want to miss this one, a return for her to the arena that she starred in during an All-American career for the Golden Gophers. She drew the biggest cheer of the night when introduced in the starting lineup, with the public address announcer saying, “Welcome home!”

Up next

Game 2 is on Thursday night in Minneapolis.