Lynx Comeback Falls Short to Mercury

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Quanitra Hollingsworth

Roneeka Hodges

Cappie Pondexter drove the lane in the third quarter and had the ball partially blocked as she brought it up and sent it toward the hoop. The ball hit the back iron softly and rolled into the hoop.

The next possession, Roneeka Hodges had the same thing happen to her as she came across the land and saw her attempt hit the backboard, then the front rim and then the hands of a Mercury player.

The shots simply were not falling as Phoenix built as much as a 33-point lead. The Lynx arrived a little too late to the party, outscoring the Mercury 24-13 in the final quarter, but still falling 87-74 on Saturday at the Target Center.

“You don’t want to let another team come on your home court and just run you completely out of your gym,” guard Roneeka Hodges said. “We just tried to fight as hard as we could. I think if we would have played like that at the beginning, it would have been a completely different ball game.”

The Lynx (10-10) fell behind by as much as 33 points in the third quarter, but slowly climbed back into it, trailing by 13 with a little less than four minutes to play.

But Phoenix (15-6) made sure Minnesota never really threatened, going on a 6-0 run in the next two minutes to re-extend the lead and end any chance at an improbable comeback.

“We want every game, but I think right now we need to figure out how to start the game,” center Quanitra Hollingsworth said. “That’s really what’s killing us. You can’t dig yourself a hole because sometimes you dig yourself a hole that is too deep to climb out of.”

Minnesota started slow for the second consecutive night and had an uphill battle the entire way. The Lynx kept up early in the first quarter, but could not stay with the surging Mercury.

The Mercury won the second quarter 29-12 helping expand their lead to 23 points entering the half. The Lynx struggled to make shots and the missed shots made every turnover hurt.

Minnesota hit on five of 15 shots in the second period and committed nine turnovers, leading to eight Phoenix points. The Mercury converted 12 points off the Lynx’s 13 turnovers in the first half, making each mistake seem twice as bad.

Phoenix also struggled with turnovers, but the team’s strong shooting – 64.5 percent in the first half – matched with Minnesota’s poor shooting masked its mistakes.

Diana Taurasi punctuated a dominant first half with a half-court 3-pointer at the buzzer as she scored 17 of her 20 points in the first half. For the second straight home game, the shots simply were not falling for the Lynx and the high-scoring Mercury would not let any opportunity slip away.

“I can’t really explain it,” guard Roneeka Hodges said. “I think that we’re not following the game plan defensively and our offense is probably getting affected by that. I think we just need to stick with it. The shots that we take are the same shots that we take when we win.”

Minnesota ended the game shooting 20 of 70 from the floor, or 28.6 percent. The Lynx won just about every other statistical category, getting 20 points off of 16 offensive rebounds, making 31 of their 40 free throw attempts and scoring 25 points off 28 Phoenix turnovers. The Mercury finished shooting 53.8 percent.

Hollingsworth turned in a second consecutive career performance, scoring 17 points after tallying a career-high 12 points in Friday’s loss to Detroit. The rookie from Virginia Commonwealth also added six rebounds. Candice Wiggins added 14 points and Hodges and Renee Montgomery had nine points each.

The Lynx have lost four straight home games, their last win at the Target Center coming on July 7 in an overtime win against the Mystics. The loss is also their third in a row, the longest losing streak of the season.

Coach Jen Gillom said she hopes the team can regroup and get back to the drawing board in the six days until the team’s next game against Connecticut on Friday. The time off, she believes, will help the team regroup and get back to its winning ways.

Despite all the team’s problems in this game, Gillom was happy with the way Minnesota fought back.

“I think the good side of this is most teams who would have been down almost 30 points from a back to back would not have fought back like this team did,” Gillom said. “And that right there says a lot. That’s what’s going to keep me smiling until next week when we get in there and see what the problem is.”

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