Lynx Edged by Mercury in 2OT

by Menzie Henderson
Lynx Writer

After four quarters and two gut-wrenching overtime periods, an instant classic finally came to a close as the Phoenix Mercury prevailed 127-124 over the Minnesota Lynx.

The WNBA’s slogan has always been, “Expect Great” and great actually could be an understatement when referring to Saturday night’s contest. Fans couldn’t ask for more, with multiple records and achievements being accomplished as stars played like superstars under the bright lights of Target Center. The only wish left unanswered for fans in Minneapolis was a Lynx victory.

With both teams displaying an offensive showcase and combining for 251 points, Saturday night’s game was the highest scoring in WNBA history. The 127 points scored by the Mercury sets a new WNBA record for most points in a single-game. The 124 points by the Lynx is now the second highest for most points scored in a game.

The Lynx (7-14) started hot, gaining an early first-quarter lead, proving they were ready to match Phoenix’s high paced style of play. Led by a balanced attack, the Lynx tied a franchise-record for most points in a first quarter, pouring in 34 during the period. Minnesota shot 63.6 percent on 14-for-22 from the floor in the quarter.

Minnesota built its largest lead in the game with a 17-point advantage in the second quarter, credited to Seimone Augustus’ sweet shooting stroke. Augustus displayed her pure touch throughout the night, draining shot after shot. She led all scorers with a season-high 36 points, just three shy of her career high. Additionally, Augustus was 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, which ties her career high for three-pointers made.

The Mercury played a loose man-to-man defense, which left the lane open for penetration. The Lynx capitalized, driving towards the hoop and either laying it in, or kicking it out for easy jumpers. Point guard, Lindsay Whalen weaved through the Mercury’s weak defense, and found open teammates such as Augustus.

Whalen recorded a double-double, with 13 points and 10 assists. Whalen also surpassed the 2,500-point milestone mark tonight at the 3:28 mark in the first quarter.

As the game progressed, the Mercury (10-12) started to show exactly why they are the league’s top scoring team. Phoenix simply could not be denied and chipped away at the lead quickly. The Mercury rallied from 14 points down in the fourth, using a 12-0 run midway through the quarter to pull within two, making the score 90-88. The two teams exchanged baskets for a few possessions, but Minnesota still held a narrow lead.

Then, with 28.8 seconds left on the clock, Seimone Augustus was fouled from beyond the arc and was sent to the line. Augustus hit only one free-throw making the score 97-93, leaving the door open for Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury. The reigning MVP decided to take over, hitting a jumper and a three-pointer in the in the final moments, forcing the Lynx to win it at the free-throw line with the score 99-98 Minnesota lead. Lindsay Whalen then hit only 1-of-2 from the line, giving Phoenix a chance to tie. DeWanna Bonner capped the Mercury’s fourth-quarter comeback with a tying jumper with 2.1 seconds left. It was the first tie of the game.

Taurasi shined in the overtime periods, like big players do. She scored 11 of her 31 points in the second overtime, which helped Phoenix ultimately come away with the victory.

Taurasi, the league's leading scorer at 23.4 points per game, finished just 8-for-23 from the field, but was 14-for-14 from the free-throw line. The charity stripe was the difference maker of the game, with Phoenix hitting 87.9 percent and Minnesota shooting a poor 69.8 percent.

Candice Dupree led the Mercury with 32 points and 16 rebounds, while DeWanna Bonner and Penny Taylor added 20 each.

Minnesota set yet another franchise-record with six players scoring in double-figures, including Augustus and Whalen. Joining them were Rebekkah Brunson with 19, Nicky Anosike with 17, Monica Wright with 14, and Charde Houston with 21 points off the bench.

Rebekkah Brunson accomplished an individual feat, grabbing a franchise record 17 rebounds. Brunson also tallied her club-record tenth double-double of the season.

"Bittersweet, of course,” Brunson said. “Aside from any individual accomplishments, I think that I really just want to get this win. So right now, that is really the only thing that I can see. I think that is great and everything, but I think that right now, as far as the team is concerned, we need to start doing some other things and getting some wins."

With the loss, Minnesota still remains in the playoff picture, but falls 2 ½ games behind Phoenix for second place in the Western Conference. The Lynx have now lost three crucial conference games in a row.

“There is a reason why these things happen; it helps us grow as a team,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It is very painful, it is very gut-wrenching. But when we get this thing going and we are in the playoffs and when we win in the playoffs; that's what makes this so much sweeter. You have to keep that in mind, we go through these things for a reason and this is definitely a growing experience."


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