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Lynx looking for Rochester love

Is Rochester a basketball town in May? If advance ticket sales for the Minnesota Lynx game here on Sunday is any indication, the answer is a slam-dunk: 'Yes'.

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The Washington Mystics and Rochester native Coco Miller played against the Minnesota Lynx in an preseason game in May of 2003. The Lynx are back in Rochester for another preseason game Sunday at Mayo Civic Arena.
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Is Rochester a basketball town in May? If advance ticket sales for the Minnesota Lynx game here on Sunday is any indication, the answer is a slam-dunk: "Yes."

About 3,000 tickets had been sold by midday Thursday for the Lynx vs. Washington Mystics WNBA preseason game which tips off at 4 p.m. on Mothers Day at Mayo Civic Center Taylor Arena.

"Ticket sales have gone well," said Ed Hruska, executive director of the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission. "All of the lower level seats sold out fast."

"With the Lynx coming off the 2015 WNBA Championship, it's a great opportunity to give our fans in Southern Minnesota a chance see our phenomenal product as well as showcase our great partnership with Mayo Clinic," said Lynx team president Chris Wright.

"We are looking forward to a large and enthusiastic crowd for this year's game."

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It's the third time in the Lynx's 18-year history that the team will play a preseason game in Rochester, although most of the current players were in elementary school the last time it happened.

The Lynx played at Mayo Arena before in 2000 and 2003. Minnesota beat the Portland Fire in 2000, 95-67. The Lynx lost the 2003 game to the Washington Mystics, 52-46.

The 2003 game drew a crowd of 2,472 and was a homecoming for former Mayo High School star Coco Miller, a first-round draft pick of the Mystics in 2001 out of the University of Georgia.

The defending league champion Lynx opened the short 2016 preseason on Thursday night with a 77-74 win over the New York Liberty at Columbia University in New York. Renee Montgomery led the Lynx with 17 points, and Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore added 10 points each.

The Lynx are without starters Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson who are still playing overseas. They are expected to join the team before the regular season.

The Lynx are an interesting mix of new and experienced, with six rookies currently on the roster, along with four who have been in the WNBA for a decade or more, Augustus (10th year), Brunson (12th), Lindsay Whalen (12th) and Jia Perkins (10th).

"As everybody knows we're all in, in terms of seeing this as championship years for this team, as long as we have this group intact," said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve.

Sunday's preseason game matches two of the most successful head coaches in the history of the WNBA, which is celebrating its 20th year.

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Reeve, 49, has guided the Lynx to three league titles in the last five years (2011, 2013, 2015), and her .688 winning percentage since taking over the team in 2009 is the highest in league history.

Mystics head coach/general manager Mike Thibault, 65, is a St. Paul native who has the most coaching wins in league history with 257. This is his fourth season with Washington, and the 2013 WNBA Coach of the Year has led the Mystics to three consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in team history.

The Lynx open the regular season at home next Saturday, May 14, against the Phoenix Mercury at 6:30 p.m. in a game nationally televised on ESPN.

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