Saturday night went according to plan for Maya Moore, the reigning All-Star game MVP.
The UConn graduate scored 20 points for the first place Minnesota Lynx (15-4) as they took on the Tulsa Shock (10-10) in Oklahoma, her 11th straight game with 20 points or more. And while the Lynx handed the Shock their sixth straight loss 86-80, it wasn't a walk in the park.
"They are a very aggressive team, they push the ball, they like to score," Moore said. "We have to stay focused on our defense and when we do that we generally have success."
Tulsa came out fast on Saturday, jumping out to an early 11-6 lead. By the end of the first period, though, the Lynx found themselves back in control with a four-point lead.
Things stayed close until midway through the third quarter. The Lynx, thanks to a 13-5 run, were able to extend their lead to 13 midway through the quarter.
"I think we need to buckle down and do what we did in the first half," said Shock Forward Plenette Pierson. "We have a tendency to go away from that. We have a tendency to go away from our defensive scheme, our offensive scheme. What we really have to do is just focus on staying together and playing together, and staying with our offensive scheme and our defensive scheme and just executing.
"That’s what it comes down to at the end of the game is just executing."
The Shock, didn't just disappear, though. Tulsa guard Riquna Williams, who led the Shock with 35 total points in Saturday's contest, scored 12 points in the third quarter to bring the Shock back within 5.
And while the Shock were able to tie up the game with just more than five minutes left, it wasn't enough. The Lynx were able to outlast the run, giving them a six-point victory - their third straight win.
"[These are] two really good teams with really good players," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "They have really good production all around, as do we. This game was played in spurts."
Moore led the Lynx with her 20 points, and center Sylvia Fowles was right behind her with 19. Forward Tricia Liston and guard Lindsay Whalen also finished in double figures Saturday, scoring 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Williams and her 35 points took a big portion of the offensive load for the Shock, shooting nearly 48 percent from the field. Guard Odyssey Sims and Pierson finished the game with 16 points each.
The Shock and the Lynx are both in action again on Tuesday, when they both hit the road for more Western Conference league play. The Shock will take on the second-place Phoenix Mercury, while the Lynx will face the last-place Los Angeles Sparks.