Making the first start of her two-year, 13-game WNBA career, Bridget Carleton pumped in a game and career-high 25 points Wednesday night as the Minnesota Lynx blew open a close game after halftime for a 92-66 rout of the New York Liberty in Bradenton, Fla.
Carleton, a 6-1 Canadian from Chatham, Ont., who played college ball at Iowa State, hit 11 of 15 shots and all three of her 3-pointers as Minnesota (4-1) won its third consecutive game. Carleton scored only 13 points total before Wednesday’s game, but got the call with two starters shelved due to injury.
Four other players scored in double figures for the Lynx. Lexie Brown hit for 15, while Crystal Dangerfield added 12 points. Damiris Dantas and reserve Erica McCall each contributed 10 as Minnesota sank 50.7 percent of its field goal tries, going 10 of 21 from the 3-point line. Carleton’s Canadian teammate Kayla Alexander added two points over seven minutes of action.
Amanda Zahui B. paced winless New York (0-5) with 13 points, while Kia Nurse and reserve Leaonna Odom each tallied 10. The Liberty again struggled across the board, converting only 39.1 percent of their shots and also coughing up 22 turnovers.
A 27-6 third quarter decided the outcome.
Carleton started a 13-0 run with a 3-pointer that gave the Lynx a 59-41 advantage. The margin developed as high as 27 points in the fourth quarter.
The pregame storyline was more about who was out than what type of game might be in store. Minnesota fielded a lineup that didn’t include perennial All-Star Sylvia Fowles (calf) or point guard Shenise Johnson (hamstring). New York rookie Sabrina Ionescu (ankle) missed her second straight game.
Still, the teams combined for an entertaining, although occasionally sloppy, first half. They traded the lead for most of the first quarter, the Liberty taking a 22-20 edge after 10 minutes thanks to a 3-pointer by Zahui B. But the Lynx controlled most of the second quarter as New York’s propensity for mistakes came into play.
They led by nine in the last two minutes before the Liberty got a 3-pointer from Kylee Shook to cut the margin to 44-39 at intermission.