Lynx Topple Stars at Home, 91-84
by Megan Schuster, Dane Mizutani
Web Editorial Assistants
Minnesota faced San Antonio for the third time this season on Thursday night at the Target Center. The team was 2-0 against the Stars coming into the game, but San Antonio had won five straight road contests.
Coach Cheryl Reeve acknowledged this week during practice that this was a hungrier Stars team than the Lynx had faced. They came in leading the league in 3-point shooting, and had an above .500 record.
Still, all those factors couldn’t shut down the Lynx. Through tough defensive stops, four players finishing in double figures and discipline in the fourth quarter, Minnesota came away with a 91-84 win over the San Antonio Stars on Thursday night.
For the second game in a row, Seimone Augustus was sidelined with bursitis pain she’s been dealing with for a few weeks now. Monica Wright stepped into the starting role on Thursday, and didn’t miss a beat. She had Minnesota’s first six points of the game, scoring two early 3s to put the Lynx up 6-4.
“Monnie’s lift offensively is just being really poised,” Reeve said after the game about Wright. “I’ve been really impressed how quickly she’s gotten reacclimated and it was really important to us.”
San Antonio tied things up quickly in the second at 22 points a piece, and seemed to be gaining momentum while the Lynx struggled with turnovers and missed shots.
Lindsay Whalen was determined not to let her team lose focus, though. She hit a quick bucket three minutes into the quarter, and on the next posession found a wide-open Damiris Dantas in the low post for an easy two points. And, after San Antonio took a 30-27 lead, Whalen drove the ball into the lane, took a hard foul but made the shot and tied up the game with her free throw.
“We started sharing the ball,” Whalen said about her team’s solid offensive production. “I thought that things in the first half started to get a little one-on-one and then we started moving the ball, moving it, sharing it, and once we were able to find the inside players a little, we were able to get kick outs and drives. And once we did that things really opened up for everybody.”
The Lynx’s post passing was impressive in the quarter. After spreading the floor hitting the 3-ball in the first, Dantas and Devereaux Peters off the bench got great looks in the low post.
The quarter was back-and-forth the entire 10 minutes, but the Lynx finished the second on an 11-0 run to take a 41-35 lead into the break.
The Lynx defense came out strong after halftime, forcing a shot clock violation in San Antonio’s first possession of the half. The team played strong defense all night, forcing a total of four shot clock violations.
San Antonio got their first point of the half on a Kayla McBride free throw, but did not score a field goal until nearly five minutes into the quarter, extending a drought that went back to a McBride basket with 4:04 left in the second quarter.
The team was on a 20-1 run, and was up 50-36 with midway through the quarter.
Wright continued her hot streak, making buckets for the Lynx and sticking to her player on defense. Wright finished with 17 points in the game.
“It's great to see people working on things in practice, building themselves up to be able to help us,” Moore said of Wright’s play after the game. “And showing that to everyone is huge for our team. It gives us a huge relief just to have that burden shared with our reserves.”
The Stars’ shots finally started falling, and they clawed their way back into a single-digit deficit with just over two minutes left in the quarter. Shenise Johnson hit a three for the Stars with a minute to go, and a bucket by Jayne Appel brought San Antonio within four points.
Following a strong start to the half by the Lynx and a big comeback by the Stars to close out the quarter, Minnsota finished the third up 59-54.
After a Stars basket to open the fourth, Whalen drove hard to the lane and fought through two defenders to get a layup-and-one. She followed with a kick-out to Moore for 3, and Minnesota was back up nine just 47 seconds into the quarter.
Four Lynx scored in double-figures on Thursday night—Moore, Dantas, Wright and Whalen—and with just over two minutes to go in the game Minnesota was up 81-74. Peters hit a shot late, and Whalen followed suit with just under a minute to play.
After a hard-fought battle between the two teams, Minnesota came out of Thursday night with a 91-84. victory over the Stars.
Leader of the Pack:
It was a battle for Player of the Game honors Thursday, but Lindsay Whalen was the main catalyst in the Lynx 91-84 win over San Antonio. Whalen was efficient from the field in the game, shooting 7-for-11 en route to 22 points, and managed to get to the charity stripe 10 times. It was Whalen’s fifth 20-point game of the season.
“I thought her leadership and her grit [were huge for us],” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “She was so locked in.”
Highlight of the Night:
San Antonio cut the Lynx lead to 59-56 very early in the fourth quarter and for a few seconds it looked like the Stars might make it a game. That feeling lasted only for a few seconds — literally — as Lindsay Whalen promptly cashed in an and-one bucket on the other end and Maya Moore nailed a three pointer to stretch the lead back to a comfortable 65-56 margin.
The Numbers Game:
“It’s kind of just by committee trying to do a little more until we get Seimone back from injury. She brings so much leadership and scoring and defense. We had Monnie step up and I thought that Dev was all over the place pretty much all night. … So give everybody credit for stepping up and making plays.”
The Lynx will get a break for the Fourth of July before they travel to New York for a matchup with the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. This will be the second meeting between the teams this season. Minnesota battled with the Liberty earlier this season and came away with a hard-fought 87-82 win at Target Center.
“This is the first time I’m playing in the Garden as a WNBA player,” Moore said. “I played there before but this will be my first time since I’ve been drafted to the Lynx so I’m pretty excited to go and experience the atmosphere.”
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