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Monarchs-Lynx Preview

Aug 27, 2009 - 5:56 PM By MATT BEARDMORE STATS Writer

Sacramento (9-19) at Minnesota (11-16), 8:00 p.m. EDT

The Minnesota Lynx have returned to Minneapolis after a disappointing road trip. The Target Center, though, has not been a friendly place for its home club of late.

The Lynx try to snap a six-game slide and keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race Friday night when they face the Sacramento Monarchs, who are looking to make a postseason push.

Minnesota (11-16) closed out a nine-day, four-game trip with an 80-67 loss to New York on Sunday. The Lynx shot 11 for 20 in the first quarter and led by as many as 17, but made 25 percent from the field over the final three quarters.

Minnesota center Nicky Anosike had two points in the second half after scoring 16 before the break.

"They threw a lot of double-teams on her," said coach Jennifer Gillom, whose team is looking to snap the franchise's longest skid since a 10-game losing streak from July 1-25, 2007. "She kicked the ball back out like she was supposed to do, and hit the open man. The ball just wasn't going in."

That has been the case for a number of Lynx players as the team has dropped nine of 10 since the All-Star break. Minnesota is battling San Antonio for the West's fourth and final playoff spot.

To get into the postseason, Minnesota will almost certainly have to play better at the Target Center. The Lynx have lost six of seven there since opening 5-2 at home.

Sacramento, trailing the Lynx by 2 1/2 games, won its last contest in Minneapolis 74-68 on July 2 to snap a six-game slide. The Monarchs, however, are 4-11 on the road.

After winning two in a row and four of five, Sacramento (9-19) was pounded 103-83 at Atlanta on Tuesday. The Monarchs allowed their highest point total since Jenny Boucek was fired as coach July 12 and replaced by general manager John Whisenant.

"We reverted back to where we were," said Whisenant, whose team yielded 70.4 points per game during a 4-1 stretch from Aug. 11-22. "We can't play like that. We scored enough points. We just didn't slow them down at all."

Monarchs forward Nicole Powell, scoring a team-high 16.2 points per game, averaged 20.0 with 7.5 rebounds as Sacramento and Minnesota split their first two matchups of 2009 - each winning on the road.

Anosike averaged 11.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the two meetings.

The Lynx and Monarchs meet in their regular-season finale at Arco Arena on Sept. 13.