The Minnesota Lynx were able to withstand Maya Moore's foul trouble with strong play from Rebekkah Brunson in victory over Tulsa Shock, 85-73.
Moore and Lindsay Whalen led the way at the start of the game for the Lynx. On the other end, Plenette Pierson knocked down shots and easy baskets at the rim. The game went back and forth, like a pendulum, for both teams until about seven minutes left in the first quarter.
Moore picked up two back-to back-fouls, which caused her to sit the bench, and from that point, the Lynx started to struggle offensively. The Shock continued to hit shots and easy baskets, while the Lynx were silent, causing the Minnesota to get down by their highest deficit of 16.
Whalen and Brunson took over on the scoring end while Moore sat the bench. Once Moore re-entered the game again, she left off right where she started, by hitting immediately from downtown.
During the second quarter, Skylar Diggins and Odyssey Sims were a hard pair to guard on the perimeter. Their quickness and craftiness caused foul trouble for the Lynx, and mismatches, when Minnesota would switch picks on defense.
Moore stayed an offensive threat for the Lynx, but was continuously saddled with foul trouble. On the other hand, the basket seemed to be the size of a pool for the Shock, as they kept scoring from downtown.
Every time the Lynx scored, Tulsa answered back. While Moore was in foul trouble, Seimone Augustus took over on scoring for Minnesota. Brunson's energy throughout the first half provided energy for the team, while she tipped in a buzzer beater to end the half. Minnesota ended up with a 1-point lead going into half time.
Every shot that Pierson took seemed to go in last night, she hit the first shot of the second half for the Shock. And the Lynx continued to trail as Diggins and Sims were too much to handle in the third quarter. Whalen kept the momentum going throughout a shaky third quarter for the Lynx as she scored an and-1 and threw a nice pass to Brunson for an easy two.
Minnesota struggled with a scoring presence, due to Moore being on the bench with four personal fouls. And as the Lynx continued to switch the post-guard picks, Tulsa's guards took advantage of it.
But Brunson wouldn't be denied, as she continued to own the boards and dominate inside the paint. Minnesota hit another end of the quarter buzzer beater to gain energy, and they cut the lead to within 1, 63-64.
As the fourth quarter got underway, Moore was back in the game, and hit the first shot of the quarter, which gave the Lynx the lead at 3. Brunson stayed a huge inside presence, as continued to flourish on the inside.
For Tulsa, Sims unrelenting play was a key factor in scoring for the Shock, as she had 17 points with 5 minutes left. Every time Minnesota switched picks on defense, it led to a mismatches -- and Diggins and Sims made them pay for it.
But Whalen responded, because she was in attack mode during the fourth quarter, as she got her third and-1, which continued to stymie Tulsa.
With about 3 minutes to go in the game, Moore picked up her 5th personal foul. The crowd, sensing the moment, continued to provide energy, while Lynx gained their largest lead of the game 77-70. And Minnesota went on to win the game by 8 points.
Even though star player Maya Moore was in foul trouble throughout the entire game, balance is what kept the Lynx in the game. Other players like Brunson stepped up. She kept the Lynx in the game with her inside presence
"(Brunson) never looked tired to me, she just wanted more, said Coach Reeve after the game. "She was embracing the moment and the challenges that were out there."
Impact players of the game
Rebekkah Brunson was a game-changer for the Lynx last night. She had a double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds. Her dominance on the boards and defensively is what paved the way for a Lynx win last night. Brunson can be a huge force to reckon with if she continues to play like this.
Odyssey Sims is an offense and defense match-up nightmare. She scored 17 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 7 assists in the Lynx home opener. Her quickness, court awareness and scoring ability is what gave the Lynx a hard time.