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Sun lose, but Whalen notches career high

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was vintage Lindsay Whalen: Her team
trailing. The clock winding down. The ball in her hands.
Fans rose to their feet as Whalen drove the lane, got fouled and
threw up a blind layup as the whistle blew with 3.8 seconds to
play. Remarkably, the ball went in and some fans behind the home
bench playfully bowed with their arms outstretched to acknowledge
the former University of Minnesota star.
Whalen's new team, the Connecticut Sun, still lost the game. But
the day was hers anyway.
For the first time since leading the Gophers to the Final Four
last season, Whalen played in front of a Minnesota crowd on
Wednesday -- and she turned in a career performance. She led the Sun
with a career-high 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
It wasn't enough, though, as the Lynx beat Connecticut 66-63.
"A few plays here or there, a few offensive rebounds in the
second half, and it could've been a different story,'' Whalen said
afterward in her typical monotone voice.
For the fans who grew to adore the point guard from Hutchinson
who put the Golden Gophers on the national map, the game couldn't
have been scripted better.
"Lindsay was getting cheers when she scored and the Lynx were
getting cheers when they were winning,'' Sun coach Mike Thibault
said.
The crowd of 16,227, a Lynx record, gave Whalen a loud ovation
during player introductions. The fans, many wearing Gopher colors
and Whalen replica jerseys (both Connecticut and Minnesota),
cheered every basket she made.
After a slow start, Whalen brought loud cheers by blowing by
defenders on the perimeter and driving the lane -- a sight Gopher
fans became accustomed to seeing at Williams Arena. Late in the
first half, she completed a three-point play on a spectacular spin
move in the paint to bring fans to their feet.
Among those in attendance were Gophers coach Pam Borton, who sat
courtside, and former teammates who took part in a halftime
ceremony honoring women's sports in Minnesota.
"It was good to be back and see everyone,'' Whalen said. "It
was a great crowd. They saw a good game, down to the wire. So I'm
glad about that.''
The Lynx tried to draft Whalen in April, but Connecticut wanted
too many key players in a trade for the No. 4 overall pick. The
Lynx ended up instead with Kansas State center, Nicole Ohlde, who
led Minnesota with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds on
Wednesday.
"Obviously this is a big game for Minnesota having Lindsay
Whalen coming back,'' said Lynx guard Amber Jacobs, whose Boston
College Eagles were eliminated in the Sweet 16 last season by the
Gophers.
"We had a great fan base today,'' Jacobs said. "Hopefully,
it'll spark an interest with (the fans) and they'll come back
supporting the Lynx.''