Three Takeaways: Syl strikes again, takes Lynx to 5-0

UNCASVILLE, CT - MAY 26: Sylvia Fowles
UNCASVILLE, CT - MAY 26: Sylvia Fowles /

At the beginning of the season, Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles noted that head coach Cheryl Reeve wanted the three-time All-Star to unleash “psycho mode.”

If psycho mode translates to being a double-double threat every game, then Fowles is crazy good. She fell just one rebound shy of earning her fourth double-double this season, but she was the centerpiece of an 82-68 win over the Connecticut Sun Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

In the second meeting between the two teams this week, Minnesota’s performance offered a strong illustration of their depth. They moved to 5-0 with the win, while Connecticut fell to 0-4.

Super Syl

ST PAUL, MN – MAY 23: Sylvia Fowles
ST PAUL, MN – MAY 23: Sylvia Fowles /

If Fowles upholds her current production value, any adjective used to describe her dominance in the paint will become redundant. The 31-year-old had 20 points and nine rebounds on Friday, overpowering any Sun defender who got in her way. The best example came midway through the third quarter, when Fowles got an offensive rebound following a miss from Renee Montgomery. In the process, Fowles put Connecticut center Danielle Adams in the spin cycle, resulting in an uncontested put-back.

Fowles has eclipsed the 20-point mark four times this season, and she hasn’t shot worse than 58 percent from the floor in any game. The 6-6 center isn’t using any newfound tricks, instead relying on her assertiveness and consistency. In most cases, she has the advantage down low, and does her best to exploit such an edge.

An even scarier proposition is how high the Lynx can climb when Fowles’ teammates regain their rhythm, but whatever happens, odds suggest this name will be mentioned frequently throughout the year.

Mild Maya

ST PAUL, MN – MAY 23: Maya Moore
ST PAUL, MN – MAY 23: Maya Moore /

Maya Moore, Minnesota’s all-around threat, is stuck in a rut. Nothing seemed to work for her on Friday, scoring seven points while shooting 1-of-9. This season, she’s averaging 13.2 points per game, matching a career low that was set in her rookie year. On the floor, Moore is hitting just 29.3 percent of her field goals. On any other team, such numbers would be a problem, but Minnesota’s depth often alleviates a poor showing from an individual.

Of course, Moore is a focal point in scouting reports. Connecticut defenders stayed on her every time she touched the ball, forcing Moore to either rush her shot or take a contested look. For anyone else, this might rattle their confidence, but Moore’s ironclad poise is one of her strongest assets. If she’s not scoring, she’s usually hustling to help out in other ways. On Friday, she went to the boards, picking up a game-high 11 rebounds. She also added a block in transition.

Moore will eventually regain her shooting form, but what she’s doing to compensate for her lack of efficiency is emblematic of a leader.

Bricking bunnies

Offense was barren for the Sun in the first three quarters. What hampered them most was their inability to finish down low. No matter who attacked the paint, short-range shots seemingly went everywhere except the basket, at least until the game went to stat-padding time in the fourth quarter. For the most part, Minnesota cleaned up those misses, building a 43-27 advantage in rebounds.

Jonquel Jones was an afterthought. Early foul trouble sent her to the bench for most of the game, and she finished with just seven points and two rebounds, both season lows. The only standout from Connecticut’s primary rotation was Lynetta Kizer, who scored 12 points off the bench on 6-of-11 shooting.

Friday’s result was a considerable blow for the Sun. They nearly stole a win from the Lynx on Tuesday, but with youth comes volatility. Finishing down low is an absolute must when the margin is close, or Connecticut could suffer a similar outcome in future games.