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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Maya Moore had 27 points and a career-high 10 assists to help the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx open the season with a 95-76 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night.
The Lynx raised their banner prior to tip-off — celebrating their third championship in five years — but Moore downplayed the festivities.
“We were trying to stay ready and prepared throughout the ceremony,” she said.
Moore is the player to have at least 20 points and 10 assists in a WNBA season opener.
The Lynx started to pull away in the second quarter, finishing the half with a 12-5 run to lead 52-42. Diana Taurasi’s jumper pulled the Mercury within 60-53 midway through the third quarter, but Minnesota answered with a 13-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Seimone Augustus added 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting, Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and 14 rebounds for her 100th career double-double and Lindsay Whalen chipped in with 14.
Moore, Fowles, Augustus and Whalen made 33 of their 54 shots and the Lynx finished shooting 54 percent from the field.
Minnesota opened the season with the top ranking in the AP WNBA power poll, receiving 10 of the 14 first-place votes. Phoenix ranked second and garnered the other four votes for the top spot. The teams have met in the Western Conference Finals three straight years and four of the last five. The WNBA approved a new playoff format for its 20th season that will seed the top eight teams based on winning percentage, allowing same-conference rivals such as the Mercury and Lynx to potentially meet in the finals.
Taurasi led the Mercury with 18 points in her return. She sat out last season. She reunites a starting unit with Penny Taylor, Brittney Griner, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree that is 30-3 for the Mercury. All three losses are against the Lynx.
Taylor scored 13 points, Griner added 12, and Bonner 10. Dupree logged her 10,000th career minute with the first two minutes of the game.
LIBERTY 87, MYSTICS 76
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tina Charles scored 24 points, including a three-point play that sparked a late run, to help the Liberty beat the Mystics.
With 2:39 left and the game tied at 73, Charles started the spurt with a basket and free throw. Kiah Stokes added a basket and New York had three free throws to make it 81-73. Stefanie Dolson finally ended the drought, hitting a free throw with 27 seconds remaining. The Liberty hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Sugar Rodgers added 19 points for New York, which was fourth in the inaugural Associated Press power poll this week.
Tayler Hill scored 20 points and Bria Hartley added 17 for the Mystics, who opened the season at No. 6 in the poll.
WINGS 90, FEVER 79
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Plenette Pierson scored 17 points and the Wings beat the Fever.
Dallas, formerly the Tulsa Shock, started the season ranked seventh in the AP WNBA Power Rankings. Indiana opened the season fifth.
Odyssey Sims had 14 points, Karima Christmas scored 13 and Theresa Plaisance added 12 for the Wings, who played without star Skylar Diggins. She tore her ACL last season. The Wings said after the game that Diggins was day-to-day. Dallas plays in New York on Sunday night.
Tiffany Mitchell, the ninth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft, led the Fever with 18 points in her debut.
DREAM 73, STARS 63, OT
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Angel McCoughtry scored four of her 15 points in overtime to help Atlanta beat San Antonio.
Tiffany Hayes added 13 points and Layshia Clarendon scored 12 for Atlanta.
The Dream took the lead for good 17 seconds into the extra period on Clarendon’s 3-point play. Kayla McBride answered to cut the deficit to one, but the Stars went scoreless the rest of the way as the Dream pulled away.
McBride led the Stars with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting and Dearica Hamby added 14.
SKY 93, SUN 70
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Courtney Vandersloot had 14 points and seven assists, Cappie Pondexter added 13 points, and Chicago beat Connecticut.
The Sky’s Elena Delle Donne, who led the WNBA in scoring (23.8 per game) and was named league MVP last season, missed the game with an illness.
Connecticut missed six of its first seven field-goal attempts as the Sky, who never trailed, built a 10-4 lead.
Rachel Banham and Morgan Tuck each hit a 3-pointer to cut the Sun’s deficit to 14-13 with 1:38 left in the first quarter, but Cheyenne Parker scored the final seven points in a 19-5 run that gave Chicago a 15-point lead with 5:57 to go in the first half.
Alex Bentley led the Sun with 14 points. Banham scored 13.