Lynx Take Tough Loss at Home

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Renee Montgomery

Candice Wiggins

Minnesota was climbing an uphill battle all night, struggling from the field and playing against the defending Western Conference champs from San Antonio. But when Renee Montgomery hit a one-handed runner at the third quarter buzzer to pull the Lynx within six, it looked like they might still be able to complete the climb.

The six-point hill became a mountain pretty quickly.

Ruth Riley scored eight points during a 17-0 run to start the fourth quarter, helping the Silver Stars pull away for a 77-61 win Friday at the Target Center, their first win since 2002 when the team was still in Utah.

“I told them until we start playing together as a team, we’re going to keep going down,” coach Jen Gillom said. “I said that there’s no one on this team that can carry us individually. I think some people are feeling like they have to carry a load and they don’t have to. We have a good team to win games if we do it together.”

Minnesota (8-5) had plenty of opportunities to take the lead despite shooting 34.4 percent for the game. For seemingly the third consecutive game, the team made a lot of mistakes but still had a chance to win.

But the poor shooting turned into frustration as the Lynx missed their first eight shots, and committed five turnovers in the final frame. The Silver Stars (5-5) took advantage of every mistake, scoring eight points off offensive rebounds and picking apart a struggling Lynx team on defense.

Minnesota did not score in the fourth quarter until Candice Wiggins’ mid-range jumper with almost 3:30 to play in the game. By then it was a 21-point deficit.

“It’s just defense and rebounding,” Renee Montgomery said. “The same thing we say that we need to do before the game is hurting us right now. We got outrebounded by the 13th-ranked team in the league, I think. That’s totally our fault. We knew that coming in that we needed to win the boards war and we didn’t.”

Wiggins had 15 points, Nicky Anosike had 14 points and 12 rebounds to go with four steals and Montgomery added 13 points off the bench. Minnesota had just seven assists in the game to San Antonio’s 17. The Silver Stars also shot 50.8 percent from the floor.

The Lynx had control early in the game, taking a nine-point lead quickly in the first quarter with a 13-4 lead. But when Candice Wiggins picked up her second foul with 1:37 to play, the Silver Stars began to take control.

San Antonio went on a 12-0 run spanning the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter to take the momentum from Minnesota. Belinda Snell hit two 3-pointers and scored 10 points during the second-quarter run.

The Lynx committed seven turnovers in the second quarter and 12 in the opening half, leading to 17 Silver Stars points.

More alarming for Minnesota, the team saw its hot shooting early quickly deteriorate. The Lynx started five for nine from the floor, but made only five more field goals the rest of the first half. Overall Minnesota shot 34.5 percent in the first half and trailed 37-31 at the break.

“That’s the thing, our team is so talented that this isn’t the first game where we’ve made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of turnovers and we’re still in the game,” Montgomery said. “It’s catching up with us. You can’t continually do that and expect to win the games. With a very disciplined offensive team, you have to make sure you are just as disciplined on defense if not better. And we weren’t.”

The Lynx got off to an inauspicious start in the second half, committing two turnovers on their first two possessions of the second half. But the Silver Stars never could completely pull away.

Minnesota kept things close, but the team could not overtake the lead, leaving opportunities on the court to tie the game and allowing San Antonio to re-expand its lead. A running one-handed runner by Montgomery at the end of the third quarter gave the Lynx some life entering the fourth.

But turnovers stymied the team all night and prevented any sort of comeback.

The team struggled with turnovers the entire night, committing 21 that led to 24 points. The struggles protecting the ball killed any chance the Lynx had of gaining the momentum it would need to take back the lead.

“We have to refocus our energy immediately to the next game and look at what we did wrong this game,” Wiggins said. “We just have to figure out what we need to do to win next game.”