Lynx Slide Past Mystics In Thriller

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Nicky Anosike

Charde Houston

Second chances are hard to come by in basketball. Second chances are even harder to come by in overtime.

After the Lynx failed to inbound the ball with five seconds left in regulation, resulting in a five-second violation and a near-miss last-second shot, they twice fouled the 3-point shooter with a three-point lead in overtime.

Both times the first two free throws were good. Both times the third one was no good.

And both times, the Lynx secured the rebound and hit their free throws to survive with a 96-94 win in overtime over the Mystics on Tuesday at the Target Center.

“I really think they learned from their mistakes tonight,” coach Jen Gillom said. “We probably need to do more and more game situations when it’s crucial like this because they are young.... This is definitely a learning experience for us and it will continue to be. As we go through those growing pains, hopefully we can still get a few wins out of that.”

Minnesota (8-4) stormed back in this game, trailing by nine points entering the fourth quarter just to force overtime and have a chance to win it in regulation.

The Lynx trailed by six points with a little more than three minutes to play when rookie guard Renee Montgomery proved to be the spark the team needed to complete a comeback that seemed to last all game.

Montgomery scored nine consecutive points to help the Lynx take a one-point lead with a minute to play and had 18 of her career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“We had put in a play the day before just for certain situations against Washington,” Montgomery said. “(Coach Jen Gillom) just decided to call it, and it just worked. They said just keep running it until they stop it. I didn’t really catch fire, I was just shooting layups.”

Montgomery's stellar quarter would not be enough though. The Lynx held a two-point lead with 11 second to play when Lindsey Harding missed a floater. But Chasity Melvin was underneath to collect the offensive rebound and her putback tied the game at 81.

With the ball and five seconds remaining, Charde Houston failed to inbound the ball and the Lynx turned it over on a five-second violation. Harding’s last-second 3-pointer was off the front of the rim and the two would need five minutes to decide the outcome.

In the overtime period, the Lynx led by three points with 8.6 seconds to play when Nicky Anosike fouled out of the game on a desperation three by Marissa Coleman. The rookie calmly sank the first two shots before missing the third off front of the rim.

Even after regaining a three-point lead, Montgomery fouled Harding on another 3-point shot. Harding, again, made the first two before missing the third.

The mistakes proved not to be costly, but still an important lesson for the young Minnesota squad in victory.

“We need to use it as a learning experience and understand that if that happens again, it could possibly cost us a game,” Charde Houston said. “But everybody is on the same page and everybody continued to play until the end of the game and that’s what counts most.”

The Lynx struggled throughout the contest, shooting below 30 percent for much of the first half and trailing by as much as 10.

Nicky Anosike scored 15 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the line in the opening half to help the Lynx keep pace, but it was an offensive struggle for much of the opening 20 minutes. Anosike finished the game with 24 points, hitting 12 of 17 free throws and dishing out four assists.

Even with the struggles in the first half, Minnesota found itself within striking distance.

Houston was the spark early in the third quarter, scoring the Lynx’s first six points to lead them into a six-point lead. Houston was pulled early in the game and played only five minutes in the first half. She hit five of six shots in the period and finished with 11 points in the period.

Gillom said she would bench anybody who did not play defense early in the game, responding to the team’s struggles on that end in its last game against Sacramento on Thursday. She delivered the message early to Houston and Houston certainly picked up on it, scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds for the game.

But the Mystics (5-5) withstood the early rush from the Lynx and took a nine-point lead, using a 13-3 run in the final three minutes of the quarter. Minnesota could not put together enough offense to close the period and faced an uphill battle entering the fourth.

Gillom said she was proud of the way her team fought out of that deficit to force overtime and have a chance to win the game. But the young squad certainly still has some things to learn about playing in close games.

“We understand that we made some mistakes,” Houston said. “It’s just about how you finish the game. A win is a win, no matter how pretty. But we have to use it as a learning experience as well.”

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