Behind a combined 47 points from Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, the Minnesota Lynx handed the Connecticut Sun an 85-79 loss on Tuesday at the Mohegan Sun.
Moore recorded her sixth consecutive 20-point outing with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Augustus added 21 points, five assists and two rebounds for the Lynx.
The Sun cut into a big Lynx lead in the fourth quarter, but didn't have enough left in the tank to overcome the star power Minnesota relied on in the fourth quarter. Moore and Augustus combined to score 19 of the Lynx 23 points in the fourth quarter.
"It's just fun, it's more fun, it's not necessarily nerves. It's just a really good team we are trying to beat. When we come and play here, they always have a great crowd and they are capable of getting a lot of runs because their crowd is so awesome for them," Moore said about playing in the city where she spent her college years.
"So we just want to make sure we make it as hard as we can for them to get momentum when we're playing here and, for the most part, we did that."
Despite completely dominating the first quarter, the Sun (7-5) held a modest 19-16 lead after the opening stanza. Kelsey Bone led the way early for Connecticut, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in the opening quarter to set the tone for her team. Minnesota (10-3) stayed in the game because of Moore's five points and two assists.
The Lynx picked up the intensity in the second quarter and outscored the Sun 26-21 to take a 42-40 lead into halftime. Minnesota managed to take advantage of almost every Sun turnover by converting those opportunities into a 10-3 fast break point edge.
The Sun enforced their presence in the paint by outrebounding the Lynx 23-18, but Minnesota countered with crisp ball movement and a 12-7 edge in assists.
In the first the half, Moore was the biggest factor behind Minnesota's lead. She scored 14 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting from the field. Augustus added six points, three assists and two rebounds for the Lynx at the half. The Sun struggled in the second quarter after going away from Bone in the post, which kept them in the lead in the first quarter. She finished the half with nine points and five rebounds.
To start the third quarter, the Lynx looked like a rejuvenated team while the Sun seemed like a team without any energy. With the intensity level raised, Minnesota took its largest lead of the game - a 14-point edge - with a little under two minutes left in the quarter.
After being down by 14 points, the Sun turned to Shekinna Stricklen, who hadn't played until the dwindling moments of the third quarter. Stricklen's impact was immediate; she hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the third quarter, and scored 10 points in less than four minutes of game time to bring her team back into the game.
The Sun rallied to make the game interesting in the fourth quarter, but Augustus stopped any hope of a win with an 11-point burst in the final period. With the loss, the Sun's losing streak is at a season-high four games.
"I thought we played well enough in spurts to make it a game late. I really feel like we can match up better than we did," Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. "We just had too many stretches where we didn't get consecutive stops. Overall, I don't walk away from this saying we're in trouble."
Overall, Minnesota shot 50.8 percent from the field while Connecticut managed to convert on just 44.9 percent of its shots.
Alex Bentley led the Sun in scoring with 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the field. Bone finished with 13 points, despite an eight-point first quarter, and eight rebounds. Stricklen finished with 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range in just 10 minutes of action.