Lynx come up short against Monarchs

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Nicky Anosike

Roneeka Hodges

Renee Montgomery

The scene seemed familiar to the one that took place the last time Sacramento and Minnesota met two weeks ago. The Lynx trailing by one and needing a bucket to pull out the win.

This time there was no Seimone Augustus to save them. Augustus hit a driving runner with a little more than a minute to go to help Minnesota escape with a win in Sacramento.

Candice Wiggins could not run the same play and score despite her stellar performance in Augustus’ stead.

Wiggins’ drive was rejected by Rebekkah Brunson with 26.9 seconds to play and a desperation 3-point shot from Nicky Anosike to tie the game ended any hopes for the Lynx to gut out a victory on a night when their coach admitted they were outplayed.

The Monarchs erased a five-point lead with four minutes to play and snapped the Lynx’s three-game winning streak with a 74-68 win at the Target Center on Thursday.

“We just couldn’t rebound,” Nicky Anosike said. “They beat us on the boards by a lot. We just couldn’t rebound all night and that’s what won them the game.”

Minnesota (7-4) struggled on the glass as Sacramento scored 22 second-chance points off of 15 offensive rebounds. The Lynx only managed four and had one offensive rebound in the second half. The rebounding discrepancy helped Sacramento (2-8) make up for a 36 percent shooting performance.

When the Monarchs were not converting on put backs, they were getting stops on defense. The Lynx shot just 41 percent from the floor and hit only five of their 25 3-point attempts. Minnesota took 14 fewer shots than Sacramento, a product of the team’s nine-rebound deficit.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Lynx, led by Roneeka Hodges’ 15 points. But only Nicky Anosike (12 points) and Kelly Miller (10 points) shot better than 50 percent. Anosike also added seven assists and Charde Houston had 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Monarchs took the Lynx out of their transition game and forced them to play a half-court game for much of the night. Minnesota did not respond well to the pressure, committing 16 turnovers that led to 21 Sacramento points.

On the other end, the Monarchs committed 15 turnovers, but only gave up 11 points off of them. They effectively killed the Lynx’s potent fast break attack, limiting them to 11 fast break points.

“When you have a pressure defense like that, you have got to find the open holes. And we did not do that at all,” coach Jen Gillom said. “We kept playing our same game versus when they pressure you, look for the open man because there is always going to be someone open when you are pressured by two or more players. We did not do that tonight.”

It was the fast break points that helped the Lynx keep the game close.

Renee Montgomery helped kick start a 10-2 run to erase a seven-point deficit in the third quarter. Still the team struggled mightily in the period, shooting 35.7 percent on 5-of-14 shooting.

The Lynx did not score more than 20 points in any quarter of the game, topping off with a 20-point first half.

Minnesota’s struggles started in the first half, but the team still maintained the early lead. The Lynx had an eight-point lead late in the first quarter.

But when it looked like they would extend it, Nicole Powell showed them it would be a tight game as she scored six points to end the quarter. The Monarchs’ leading scorer finished with 21 point and seven rebounds.

The Monarchs never went away and were the ones that came up with the stops when they needed it.

Gillom said she was afraid of this game because she feared the team would be overconfident coming into the game, being the first place team facing the last place team.

“It just didn’t happen for us tonight,” Hodges said. “We’ve just got to stay focused, keep a positive mindset and try to get the win against Washington.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.