Entering the season, it was widely expected Sylvia Foles and Ariel Powers would produce for the Minnesota Lynx. But Moria Jefferson? Nikolina Milik? Evina Westbrook?
Jefferson and Westbrook signed with the team on Friday. Milik has been around since May 6.
Yet there the trio was playing on both ends of the court early Saturday in the fourth quarter as the Lynx rallied to within two points. And they were on the floor in the last minute of each contest possession.
In the end, Minnesota fell 82-78 to the Chicago Sky and dropped to 0-4 for the season.
Milic scored seven of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, Fowles finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds and Jefferson scored 16 points and had five assists.
“We wanted to win the match. We would never, ever accept a moral victory. But anyone who’s been watching us knows it was a big-time progress game. Looked more like a Lynx. If we make some free throws (14-23), maybe we win the game …
Sky held to 40.6 percent from the Minnesota area and had a 37-28 rebound advantage.
“So many good things, funny things, promised things that we wanted to take forward with us,” Reeve said.
Aerial powers looked more confident, rebounding from a trio of tough starts with more assertiveness at both ends. She finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Jefferson started at point guard and played under just 35 minutes, and, for at least one night, made a strong case for many more.
Jefferson also earned some confidence from Reeve, who was disappointed with the point guard’s performance in the team’s first three games. Picking up his fourth foul in less than a minute in the second half, Jefferson played through the entire third quarter and most of the fourth.
“It was worth the gamble,” Reeve said.
The second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Jefferson knee troubles fought. Healthy in 2021, he started 28 games for Dallas, but went waived the wings Monday. He got two days to work with Minnesota before the start Saturday.
“I thought it would be a little more hectic and crazy but I think my teammates did an excellent job of accepting me, like talking me through some things as well,” he said. “In this league, you know a lot of the plans are the same, so for me it’s just about getting those plays, getting those names down, and then if all else fails then pick and roll the cob. Call for it and leave.”
Emma Messmann led five Chicago (2-1) players to double digits with 17 points.
Azura Stevens added 14 and Courtney Vanderslut’s 16 points – including the final 10 Sky Points – and 11 assists.
A pair of free throws by Powers and a layup from Milik got the Lynx to within 64-60 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Jefferson, Westbrook and Milik scored big baskets down the stretch.
Fowles received a pass from Westbrook and scored on a layup with 53.5 seconds to get Minnesota to within 77–76, but Vandersluot countered with a 3-point shot.
Westbrook five assists in the beginning of the four points and WNBA.
Hannah Sjrven of Rogers, a Minnea native, also played the first game of her career. He made a couple of fouls in 4 minutes.