Lynx Break Through, Outlast Sun

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Charde Houston

Renee Montgomery

Nicky Anosike

It had been too long since Charde Houston could dance at center court after a home win. It had been too long since Minnesota put in the complete effort it needed to overcome some troubling patterns in recent games.

Houston and the Lynx made sure they would not fall in the same trap and enjoy the festivities and adoration that come with a home win.

Minnesota outscored Connecticut 8-4 in the final two and a half minutes behind some heart and hustle to snap a three-game losing streak with a 95-88 win Friday at the Target Center, the team’s first home win since July 7.

“What you saw tonight is what you can expect for us,” Houston said. “It’s imperative that we win our next games and ensure we clinch a spot in the playoffs. That’s what we work for. It’s why we practice as hard as we do. It’s why we support each other the way that we do.”

The Lynx needed every ounce of energy after a six-day break between games to eke this one out. The game was tied with six minutes to play after Asjha Jones hit a turnaround jumper. It seemed like it was the type of game that the young Minnesota squad might fold.

But the team did not, scoring five unanswered points to take the lead for good. The team never looked back getting baskets from Renee Montgomery and Candice Wiggins and a three from Tasha Humphrey to build the lead out to six points with just less than four minutes to play, matching Connecticut point-for-point down the stretch.

There were plenty of opportunities to fold, but coach Jen Gillom was impressed that her team went out and tried to take the game.

“That shows that they’re growing,” Gillom said. “Normally they do break down and give in to the pressure and also not being able to stay focused. I thought they held their poise tonight and took care of the basketball when they needed to take care of it. They were diving for loose balls when they needed just like a team that wanted to win and make the playoffs. They played awesome.”

All five starters scored in double figures for Minnesota. Renee Montgomery led the way with 24 points. Nicky Anosike turned in 19 points and 12 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Houston scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.

The frontcourt duo’s effort on the glass was important for the Lynx throughout the game. Gillom has admitted throughout the season that rebounding can be a bit of a sore spot for Minnesota, but the team outrebounded Connecticut 45-27, including 14 offensive rebounds and six from Anosike alone. The 14 offensive boards led to 17 second chance points and 52 points in the paint.

A pattern the Lynx have fallen into is struggling when their shots are not falling. They shot just four of 19 from beyond the arc and struggled throughout the game. But instead of letting the shots lead to bad plays offensively and let downs on defense, the team plowed forward and drove to the basket with almost reckless abandon. The team finished shooting 50.7 percent from the field.

The 52 points in the paint attest to that. The comeback the Lynx had to make in the second quarter also attests to the team’s growth as they tried to snap a long losing streak.

Connecticut took as much as a 10-point lead in an up and down first half. Minnesota struggled to shoot from beyond the arc going two for 13 in the half and committing nine turnovers. But the team still found a lot of success driving the lane.

Montgomery scored eight points in the second quarter as the Lynx cut Connecticut’s lead to 48-45 at the half. She had 12 points at the half and came out of the locker room looking to keep her team in the game.

The rookie point guard followed her second quarter with seven in the third – prompting Houston to ask, “What didn’t she do?” – as the Lynx rallied to retake the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter on a Roneeka Hodges putback with four minute left in the period.

Gillom said the rest was a contributing factor to the team’s burst of energy throughout Friday’s game. She said she saw a lot of things she liked from her team, but ultimately Minnesota has to them again to officially get back on pace.

“We recognize that there is a pattern,” Montgomery said. “And still today, we continually get ourselves into a hole and dig ourselves out and by the time we get out of the hole we don’t have anything out. I think we knew it was go time. You can’t wait until the fourth quarter to get out of that hole and expect to win the game.”

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