It was a tale of two halves Friday in Minnesota as the Lynx defeated the Seattle Storm 82-57 at the Target Center.
For the entire first half, the two teams played even with each other with both squads exchanging mini runs and multiple lead changes. By halftime, the Lynx owned only a single digit advantage on Seattle with the score standing at 34-33.
While it was clear that the Storm were holding their own, Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve was anything but pleased with the play of her team.
"We came in at half and coach kind of tore into us," said Seimone Augustus. "(Seattle) is a team that kind of prides themselves on driving and kicking, getting their shooters open and we just kind of laid down on defense."
"I just thought in the first half we just didn't have much flow to what we were doing," Reeve explained. "We weren't cutting hard, setting things up, and moving the ball."
It was clear that Reeve's message got through to the Lynx as they completely dominated the second half. Outscoring the shell-shocked Storm 48-24 over the final 20 minutes.
"They just came out with a little more energy than we did in the third quarter. Said Storm captain Sue Bird. "They were very aggressive. They have two exceptional offensive players, that even if you play the best defense you've ever played in your life, they can still make those shots. That's what Maya and Seimone did, really, throughout the game, but especially in the second half."
By the 7:37 mark of the 4th quarter, the Storm trailed 63-45 and head coach Jenny Boucek had seen enough, deciding to pull her starters, and insert reserves Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Markeisha Gatling, and Angel Goodrich. The move gave the young players much-needed court time but also signaled that Seattle had conceded the game with close to eight minutes to go.
"I didn't feel we had (the ability to come back) in us," Boucek said of her decision to pull the starters. "It was just a read. We're on a three-game road trip."
Minnesota was paced by the game-highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds from Maya Moore, while both Lindsay Whalen (16) and Seimone Augustus (15) also reached double figures.
While all 12 Storm players played and 11 recorded at least two points, only Crystal Langhorne (10 points, eight rebounds) and Bird (10 points, six assists) reached double figures, with all of Bird's points coming in the first half.
Jenna O'Hea also contributed a career-high six assists in the losing effort. Mosqueda-Lewis demonstrated her elite interior passing ability, and her continually improving foot speed, while notching four points and two assists in just over seven minutes of action.
With the loss Seattle falls to 3-8 while Minnesota improves 8-2 and is now in first place in the entire WNBA.