Here's something that might (not) shock you: the Phoenix Mercury are really, really good at playing defense.
The Lynx, so stacked with players like Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles and Lindsey Whalen, were totally ineffective for the first half. A 16-13 first quarter in Phoenix's favor gave way to a 21-9 second quarter blowout, also in Phoenix's favor.
This was essentially the end of the game; though the next third quarter would be close (but still ultimately won by Phoenix), and the Lynx would win the fourth, the deficit was ultimately too big to bridge over. Lynx Center Sylvia Fowles said:
"I thought we came out slow in the first half and picked it up in the second... I think most of the plays were us not doing what we need to do on offense. Once we stopped doing that in the second half, it showed we can pretty much stick with anybody. We just have to put defensive and offense collectively."
Brittney Griner may not have impressed with her point scoring, but she filled up the stat sheet nonetheless. She had 10 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks, and was a presence in the paint. Just her being in the vicinity of the hoop changes entire game plans; her 6'8 frame looming over all those that attack the basket.
DeWanna Bonner, who lead all scorers with 21 points on 7-13 shooting and was a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line, was the most important offensive cog, and kept the game firmly in Phoenix's hands. After the game, she said:
"They are the number one team in the West, so of course you kind of get that energy, that high of playing them. But we needed a win; we had a three-game losing streak. I think we kind of got angry at ourselves and took accountability for our own actions, so we went out there and played a great game. We finally won the first quarter, so that's a plus."
Griner was one of four people in double figures for the Mercury, a nod to the teamwork that it takes to win against a team like the Lynx. Monique Currie, Griner, DeWanna Bonner, and Noelle Quinn all hit double digit points, with Candice Dupree at 9 and Marta Xargay Casademont at 7.
For the Lynx, the numbers tell the tale. An uncharacteristically poor shooting night for Maya Moore (5-17 from the field) contributed to a poor shooting night for the Lynx as a whole (38%). Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and 12 rebounds, but shot less than 50% and was -13 on ESPN's plus/minus statistic.
One bright spot in these numbers: the Lynx hit 4-10 from three-point range, making the same number of threes but in eight fewer attempts as the Mercury. One dark spot in the numbers: Phoenix and Minnesota tied in free throws made, at 15, but Minnesota took and missed four more, with 20.
Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve had this to say after the game:
"We struggled with a lot. We only had 22 points in the first half. But it's the WNBA, so you move on. You have short term memory and go to the next one. We fly home and get a few days off which will be nice for us, then we go on the road again, and our schedule has been tough.
"Like every WNBA team, you have that stretch where it's really hard, and that's what's happening, but you just have to keep going."
The Minnesota Lynx drop to 19-9, and have lost three of their last four games. They play the best of the East in the New York Liberty, on August 28th at 7:30 PM, Eastern time. The Phoenix Mercury snap a three-game losing streak with this win, and head to Connecticut to take on the Sun, on August 27th at 7:30 PM, Eastern Time.