The reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx lost to the Washington Mystics Sunday in an exhibition game at Wells Fargo Arena. Iowans got a chance to watch some of the top pro talent in the country.
John Naughton / The Register
Sylvia Fowles may have grabbed the most hardware a women’s basketball player can earn: three Olympic gold medals, WNBA championship rings and the WNBA’s 2017 most valuable player trophy.
On Sunday, she and her Minnesota Lynx teammates played in front of an announced crowd of 4,203 fans at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena.
The 6-foot-6 center has found a big mission for the young fans that look up to her.
“It definitely was good to play in front of all these young girls today and give them the sense of urgency they can do it, too,” Fowles said.
The reigning WNBA champion Lynx fell to the Washington Mystics 90-85 in an exhibition game.
The site of the state girls’ basketball tournament made way for some of the greatest players in women’s professional basketball.
Washington’s Elena Delle Donne, one of four Mystics players to scored 11 or more points, was the WNBA MVP in 2015.
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt led the Mystics with 17 points. Myisha Hines-Allen scored 13. Delle Donne and Monique Currie both added 11.
Danielle Robinson led the Lynx with 18 points. Lindsay Whalen and Alexis Jones both scored 11.
Minnesota, which opens the season May 20 against Los Angeles at the Target Center, was treated as a home team away from home. The Wells Fargo Arena court was detailed with Lynx colors and decals. Most of the fans that sported team colors wore Minnesota blue.
“Iowa fans are passionate about their women’s basketball,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I know there’s a really passionate fan base here that appreciates good basketball.”
The Lynx have won four WNBA titles. Iowa is a market for basketball fans that can drive to Minneapolis.
“Getting there is an easy shot,” Reeve said.
The game revived a bit of women’s professional basketball history in Iowa, too.
In 1978, the Iowa Cornets opened their first season of professional basketball in the Women’s Professional Basketball League.
The Cornets played home games at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines and the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids.
Wells Fargo Arena is steps away from the former Auditorium building, which has since been renamed the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center.
The WBL lasted for three seasons. It served as a precursor to later professional women’s basketball leagues.