Collier, MVP candidate and Olympian, injures foot

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Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier suffered a left foot injury in Thursday night’s 78-73 loss to the Connecticut Sun. She was hurt with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left in the third quarter and did not return to the game.

Collier is having a standout season. She was named MVP of the Commissioner’s Cup final, won by the Lynx on June 25. Earlier in June, she was named to her second 5-on-5 Olympic team for the United States.

Cheryl Reeve, who is coach of both the Lynx and the U.S. women’s national team, said in the postgame news conference that she didn’t yet have an update on Collier or Lynx reserve guard Olivia Epoupa, who suffered a thigh injury during the game.

Collier left with nine points, which ended her streak of 29 consecutive games scoring in double figures, dating to last season. Another 5-on-5 U.S. Olympian, Alyssa Thomas, had a triple-double (13 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds) for the Sun (16-4).

The Lynx (14-6) have lost two games in a row for the first time this season; they fell 76-67 on Tuesday at New York.

“I told [the players] the last two games, it’s not that we’re playing bad, just not well enough to win the game,” Reeve said. She added of Thursday’s loss, “Like any team losing their MVP candidate, it’s a little harder, but that’s sometimes what it is. We try to focus on what we do have. We went small, tried different things to see if we could find an advantage.

“I still think, with Phee on the floor or not on the floor, we’ve got to be able to handle the basketball and be aggressive on the perimeter. When you play Connecticut, you have to be physically and mentally tough, and we were sporadic in those.”

Collier, the 2019 Rookie of the Year as the No. 6 draft pick out of UConn, was on the 2020 Olympic team. She is in her fifth full season in the WNBA; she also played four games at the end of the 2022 season after being out on maternity leave. Collier was on the all-WNBA first team last season and is averaging 20.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists this year.

The Lynx have five games remaining before the break for the July 20 WNBA All-Star Game, where Collier is scheduled play for Team USA against Team WNBA. That’s followed by the Paris Games, which start July 26.

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