Lynx End Storm's Streak
by Menzie Henderson
The Minnesota Lynx and the Seattle Storm have battled each other down to the wire in every matchup this year. It’s only fitting that tonight’s game followed suit, as the Lynx came away with a narrow 72-71 win over the Storm at Target Center.
With a Nicky Anosike made free throw with 5.5 seconds remaining in the game, Minnesota halted Seattle’s 13-game winning streak, handing the top-seeded Storm its only third loss of the season.
"Obviously a much needed win for us, really, really proud of our team in terms of being in a close game,” said Cheryl Reeve. “While, we probably gave them the opportunity to be pretty close, we still gutted it out and made plays at the end and managed to win the game. This is the third time we played Seattle like this. We were pretty hungry to make sure there was a different outcome this time."
Minnesota started the game with a higher energy level than what we have seen lately. The Lynx looked to push the ball, finding Lindsay Whalen as a quick outlet and letting her be the playmaker that she is. Whalen scored the first seven points of the game for the Lynx by getting out in transition and attacking the rim. Whalen finished with 11 points and seven assists on the night.
Minnesota went into the second quarter trailing 20-17, but went on a 26-9 surge over the course of 10 minutes to seize a 39-31 advantage going into the half. The Lynx run was credited to Seimone Augustus, who scored nine points during the stretch.
The Lynx built its biggest lead of the game in the third quarter after an Augustus jumper to make the score 46-36. Augustus could not be denied during stretches of the game, finding her stroke and looking to score nearly every position.
Augustus finished with a game-high 24 points and surpassed the 2500-point mark for her career, becoming the 2nd fastest player to reach that mark in WNBA history, only behind legend Cynthia Cooper.
Charde Houston also reached her own milestone, scoring her 1,000th point at the 9:05 mark in the second quarter. Houston continued her recent success on the offensive end, finishing the game with 14 points.
The Lynx maintained the lead in the third, going into the final frame with a 54-51 lead. Minnesota has led heading into the fourth in all three contests against Seattle, but hasn’t been able to hold off Lauren Jackson and the Seattle Storm in previous losses.
Jackson and Sue Bird did their best to give the Storm the late advantage, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome Augustus and the Lynx.
"Coach just wanted me to be aggressive,” said Augustus. “I guess it kind of worked in my advantage. Swin Cash got into a little bit of foul trouble so I was able to be more aggressive when she was defending me. But we ran a lot of the same plays that got me open and got other players open."
The Lynx held the Storm’s Lauren Jackson to 12 points tonight. The 6-5 forward/center came into tonight’s game averaging 21.9 ppg (second-best in the WNBA).
After a Sue Bird pull-up jump shot with just over a minute remaining, the Storm tied the game at 69. The Lynx gained the lead back with a baseline jump shot by Nicky Anosike, but Bird quickly responded again with another bucket, tying the score 71-71 with 18 seconds to play. Minnesota then called a play for Augustus to win it with a jumper from the wing, but the shot missed and fortunately Anosike grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled. Anosike made 1-of-2 from the free-throw line and the Lynx held on as Bird's final attempt bounced off the rim as time expired, sending the Lynx dancing away with an upset.
Bird led the Storm with 16 points and 10 assists.
"We definitely needed this,” said Augustus. “Coming in to the last 10 games of the season, I am quite sure we are going to face another game like this because now we know we can get over that hump. The past two or three games, we have lost by two or three, we kind of always found a way to lose the games. So tonight, this feels really good."
With the win, Minnesota moves ahead of Los Angeles for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 10 games to go.
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