As a player who has matched the WNBA record with six consecutive double-doubles, Minnesota Lynx's Rebekkah Brunson knew what it would take to pull off the rivalry win over defending champions, the Phoenix Mercury.
Both teams were unable to hit shots tonight, as the Mercury shot only 32.8 percent from the field while the Lynx were not much better at 39.7 percent, with the Lynx only defeating the Mercury 67-60. The major difference that gave the Lynx the edge was their ability to rebound - all starting with Brunson.
Brunson had an astounding 19 rebounds tonight, and Phoenix Mercury Head Coach Sandy Brondello spoke on the matter. "I thought Rebekkah Brunson was a beast and that's what she's capable of, to play 40 minutes and just to play as hard as she did."
This is nothing new for Brunson, as she is the franchise leader in double-doubles and the single-season record holder for rebounds with 1,272. She is one of only 14 players to record over 2,000 rebounds in a career.
As a player who averages under 10 points a game, she is looked at more as a dirty work player and a teammate that can be relied on when necessary. Tonight was one of those nights as her teammates had trouble on the glass, and Brunson had their back with seven of her 19 rebounds coming off the offensive glass.
"Rebekkah was unbelievable," Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Our sponsorship people need to get on her right now. Curad, Band-Aid, something... She just needs to be the face of it, because there was not a bigger Band-Aid that what we just experienced tonight with Rebekkah."
Rebounding has always been a strong suit for Brunson, as she holds the all-time leading rebounder record with 1,093 and the single-season record with 336.
Tonight, Brunson captured the all-time playoff offensive-rebounding leader and said, "That's something that I pride myself on - going out there, being aggressive on the boards and it feels even better knowing we got the win after it."
In her 11 years in the league, she has captured the WNBA Championship three separate times, while earning an All-Star selection also three times. She was also selected on the WNBA All-Defensive team a grand total of five times.
Maya Moore contributed the bulk of the offensive force for the Lynx with 19 points, while Seimone Augustus had 14. Brunson had the one of the best field goal percentages tonight, making half of her shots and going five of seven from the charity stripe.
"Coming into the game, we knew that rebounding was going to be important for us, and we knew there was going to be lots of opportunities to get boards," Brunson said. "We just continued to be aggressive on the court throughout the game to be successful."
The playoff rivals will face each other again on Sunday, September 27, 2015, as the Lynx will head to Phoenix for Game 2.