Ann Wauters Buzzer Beater Sinks Lynx

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Renee Montgomery

Becky Hammon had cut her way through the Minnesota defense all night. Going in and out of the lane to set herself and her teammates up for scores. When her team lost a 17-point second half lead and gave up a game-tying 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, it was the All Star’s time to get to work.

Hammon waited for the clock to run down and dribbled down the right side, nearly losing it before collecting and dribbling along the baseline. With apparently nowhere to turn, she somehow got the ball to Ann Wauters.

The 6-foot-5 center quickly took the shot from the elbow and watched as the buzzer sounded and the ball hit the front rim before falling in.

Hammon’s ninth assist proved to be the dagger as the Silver Stars escaped the Target Center with an 89-87 win on Sunday.

“I would have liked to seen a little bit more of consistency in our play tonight. But I thought the effort was there, which was good,” coach Jen Gillom said. “I’m really proud of my team for the comeback that they made. They fought hard. There were a lot of positives in this game. When you see a lot of positives, it makes you feel good even if you lost.”

The Lynx (11-11) trailed by 17 points in the middle of the third quarter but furiously rallied to cut the lead to nine at the end of the quarter.

Minnesota simply would not go away, cutting the lead to one with six minutes to play when Roneeka Hodges hit a jumper on the fast break. The two teams went up and down into the final minutes.

With the Lynx trailing by three points and a minute to play, they struggled to find any open shot before finding the unlikeliest shooter. Center Nicky Anosike received the ball and hit the first three of her WNBA career to tie the game with 20 seconds left.

But as the team has learned throughout this recent stretch, the hole proved to be too big. The 20 seconds were enough for Hammon and Wauters, who joined the team on August 1 after taking the first half of the season to rest from her play in Europe, to win the game.

San Antonio’s win brings them within a half game of Minnesota for third place in the Western Conference. It is also the Lynx’s seventh loss in the last nine games.

The way this one transpired, though, had a different feel than the losses during this nearly month-long stretch.

“The good thing about our team is that we never quit,” Renee Montgomery said. “I feel like every game we’re down and we always come back. I think we have a don’t quit attitude, but we just have to make sure that we finish it. No matter the deficit, we always come back and we always still feel that we can win. But now we have to finish the games.”

Anosike led the way 24 points and three blocks. Candice Wiggins and Montgomery each added 14 points. Hammon finished with 22 points and nine assists for the Silver Stars (10-11).

Minnesota struggled in the third quarter as San Antonio used numerous runs to extend its halftime lead.

The Silver Stars went on a 12-0 run in the middle of the quarter to extend a five-point lead to 17 points. Hammon did a lot of the damage, hitting a 3-pointer to start the run after Tasha Humphrey’s three closed the game to 55-50.

Belinda Snell had six points in the quarter and Hammon scored 12. San Antonio’s 3-point shooting was something Minnesota could not answer. The Silver Stars made 13 of 33 from beyond the arc, including five of nine in the third quarter.

But when the Lynx were at their lowest they dug in and fought back. Coach Jen Gillom picked up a technical foul with her team trailing by 14 points with 2:30 to play in the third. Minnesota went on a 10-5 to close the quarter and trail by nine.

The momentum carried over to the fourth quarter.

Minnesota started the final period on a 13-5 kick to close to within one, completing the improbable comeback and matching San Antonio shot for shot.

Even with Hammon and the Silver Stars hitting key shots that would seem to take the air out of the Target Center, the Lynx found an answer down to the final possession.

“When you’ve got a team that’s not willing to give up, that says a lot,” Gillom said. “They could have easily not fought back. But I thought they did a good job. You’ve got to understand, there’s going to be some nights. There’s going to be some inconsistencies in this young team. But I think that overall they’re doing a good job.”

Certainly some work will have to be done to prepare Minnesota for the next stretch of games. The team concludes its four-game home stand Thursday against the WNBA’s top team, Indiana. The Lynx are then on the road for the next four and six of the next seven.

Minnesota continued to show its fight. But in the end the game came down to one defensive stop the team knows it will have to get as the season wanes.

“We need to win,” Montgomery said. “We’re going through a tough stretch right now and we have to just bear down and get a win. All the teams now are good. Teams were finding themselves and transitioning with different players coming in and out. Now everyone’s good, we just have to get stops on defense.”

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