Lynx slip past Monarchs 86-83

SACRAMENTO, Calif.(AP) Seimone Augustus made the big plays when her team needed it most.

Augustus scored 14 of her 30 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Minnesota Lynx to an 86-83 victory over the Sacramento Monarchs on Tuesday night.

Augustus made 5-of-6 fourth-quarter shots, converted all four free throws, and pulled down two of the game's biggest rebounds to secure the victory.

"We have a back-to-back and play Phoenix tomorrow, so I didn't want to play Seimone that many minutes tonight, but she's our bread and butter,'' Minnesota coach Jennifer Gillom said. "I knew we could go to Seimone at the end and she would pull through for us.''

Trailing by one, Augustus got through the Sacramento defense on a drive down the lane and converted on a runner to give Minnesota an 84-83 lead with 1:15 left.

Monarchs guard Kara Lawson missed a 3-point attempt with 10 seconds left and Augustus corralled the rebound and was fouled. She converted both free throws for an 86-83 lead with 8.9 seconds left.

On Sacramento's final possession, Nicole Powell missed an open look on a 3-pointer and again it was Augustus securing the rebound and ultimately the victory for Minnesota (4-1), which is in first place in the Western Conference.

"When you have to grind it out to get a win against a good team like Sacramento it means that much more,'' said Seimone, who hit 12-of-18 shots and both 3-point attempts in scoring 30 points for the second time in the young season. "We're not the same Lynx team of two or three years ago. It's early, but it feels great being in first place right now.''

There's little joy right now for the Monarchs (1-4), who lost for the third time at home and now face a tough five-game road trip and don't play again at home until July 11.

Sacramento's defense has been lacking in the early season. On Saturday, the Monarchs allowed an WNBA-record 115 points in an overtime loss to Phoenix. Despite a sizable rebounding edge (47-30), the Monarchs still couldn't shut down the Lynx.

"They've got a lot of young guns from great (college) programs,'' Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek said. "They have great young talent. Seimone is a great player, great scorer. But we have done fine against her in the past. I know we can do better than we did tonight.''

Powell scored 19 points for the Monarchs and Lauren Harper had 13 points and nine rebounds. DeMya Walker had 11 points and both Crystal Kelly and Rebekkah Brunson added 10.

Charde Houston scored 14 points and Nicky Anosike had 10 for Minnesota.

Trailing by three, LaToya Pringle made a basket in traffic and Augustus followed with a mid-range jumper to give the Lynx an 81-80 lead with 3:05 remaining.

"The Monarchs outrebounded us, outshot us, and did a lot of things better than we did in this game,'' Gillom said. "I don't know how we got out of here with a win.''

Powell scored eight points for the Monarchs in a tight third quarter that featured four lead changes and five ties. In the final 35 seconds, reserve Renee Montgomery hit a 3-pointer and followed with an off-balance shot from close range to give the Lynx a 63-62 lead heading into the fourth.

Minnesota will have little time to relax this week with a road game Wednesday in Phoenix, followed by a Friday game in Seattle.

Sacramento has a five-game road trip that spans 12 days. After four days off, the Monarchs play in Los Angeles on Sunday and have another four days off before meeting San Antonio. The Monarchs won't play another home game until July 11 against Phoenix.

Point guard Ticha Penicheiro, the WNBA's career leader in assists and steals, missed her third straight game with a sprained right thumb.

Augustus scored 14 points and Houston had 10 to help Minnesota to a 46-42 lead. Harper had nine points and six rebounds for the Monarchs.

It was Augustus and Houston leading the way in a fast-paced opening quarter. Houston scored eight points and Augustus had seven to help Minnesota grab a 26-21 lead.

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