Fever Stifle Lynx In 4th Quarter

Lynx Postgame Audio
Jennifer Gillom

Nicky Anosike

Candice Wiggins

Rashanda McCants

WNBA President Donna Orender

Finishing has always been Minnesota’s strong suit. Whether it was making Phoenix sweat after holding a 30-point lead or erasing a 17-point deficit in the third quarter against San Antonio, it was how coach Jennifer Gillom’s team started that worried her most.

After digging themselves out of an early hole again, the way the Lynx finished Thursday’s game against the Eastern Conference-leading Fever was not the way to end a four-game home stand.

Minnesota scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter – only three points with two minutes remaining in the quarter – and hit on five of 21 field goals. Meanwhile Indiana continued the torrid pace Minnesota set in the third quarter. The Fever scored 27 points to race by the Lynx and take a 91-81 win at the Target Center on Thursday.

“I think that when our shots aren’t falling, we have to rely on something else and that has to be our defense,” Nicky Anosike said. “We’re not a good defensive team to even talk about being great. We don’t have any backup plan. If our shots aren’t falling, count it as a loss.”

The offensive struggles in the fourth quarter were made even more puzzling since the Lynx (11-12) scored 30 points in the third quarter to take a four-point lead into the final quarter.

Indiana (18-5) quickly regained control, going on an 18-3 run to start the quarter to retake the lead. The only field goal in that stretch was a quarter-opening step-back jumper from Kelly Miller.

The Lynx were held without a field goal for the next eight minutes, watching their four-point lead evaporate. But despite the long run, Minnesota found itself trailing by nine points with less than two minutes left.

Ebony Hoffman scored 12 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter as Indiana shot seven of 14 from the floor and sealed the game from the free throw line with Minnesota frantically trying to make up for the lost time.

“I think that the little drought that we went through really affected us,” coach Jen Gillom said. “If we had scored maybe a couple points there in that little drought situation, it would have been a different ball game. I don’t know why it is so, but it’s like when you don’t score, it takes a toll on your defense. When your offense is going, your defense will go. We just didn’t score a few baskets and I think it frustrated us a little bit.”

The Lynx went into the locker room trailing by two after an up and down first half. But they came out of it on a torrid offensive pace. The team hit on 10 of its 13 shots in the quarter while holding Indiana to 10 of 22 shooting. The Lynx outscored the Fever 30-24 in the quarter and took a 67-64 lead into the final period.

Minnesota was shooting 55.8 percent from the field at the time. But then it all unraveled in the fourth.

The Lynx committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter, sending them further into their spiral as the missed shots led to frustration on both ends of the court.

“For me it felt like we were really close and we had good shots to take,” Candice Wiggins said. “We had open looks and we just didn’t knock them down. On the defensive end, they capitalized on those stops.”

Wiggins led the Lynx with 23 points, but scored just two in the final quarter. It was Wiggins’ first game with 20 points since she scored 23 points in Atlanta on June 30. Anosike added 14 points and a franchise-record 16 rebounds. Kelly Miller had 10 points and Tasha Humphrey added 13 off the bench.

Indiana pressured Minnesota from the opening tip defensively, trapping the ball on the wings as the team tried to start its offense. The pressure defense led to some mistakes and careless errors.

The Lynx turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 13 Fever points. Indiana also took advantage of its six offensive rebounds, scoring 13 second chance points.

The pressure hurt the Lynx early as they did not score for the first three minutes of the game and quickly fell behind by 11 points. Minnesota came back only to fall behind again, this time by 12 points. But the team once again fought its way back into the game by halftime.

The Lynx finally put together a complete quarter, scoring 30 points in the third quarter. Minnesota took its first lead of the game Charde Houston hit a jumper in transition with about eight minutes to play.

But the momentum from the third quarter did not last and the game left Minnesota with more questions than answers once again.

“It’s not okay to almost beat somebody,” Anosike said. “That’s not all right with me personally. We have to learn how to pull it out. I feel like this was a game that was ours. I feel like we worked for it. But we’ve got to finish.”

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