MINNEAPOLIS, MN.,— Fans were in for a treat, as the top two powerhouses in the WNBA battled on the court for the second time this week. The Los Angeles Sparks upset the Minnesota Lynx in a rematch, ending the Lynx 13-game winning streak in a 94-76 victory at the Target Center.
Los Angeles owned the game, as guard Kristi Toliver's shooting arm was hot from behind the three-point line, as she went 7-11 in three-point shots, ending with an overall 25 points.
Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike have combined to average 32.7 points this season, but the duo stepped up with 34 combined points opposed to 18 combined points during Tuesday's game. Ogwumike and Toliver combined for 45 points, as Parker contributed defensively and offensively with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
"When you have two highly competitive teams, it's always going to be a great game. I think we love playing against them because they're such a talented group. They want to win just as bad as we do, so that brings out the best I think in one another," said Toliver.
MVP Maya Moore seemed unaffected by a thigh injury that happened early in the third quarter at Tuesday's game, as she led the team with 28 points. Teammate Seimone Augustus hit her 2,000-career made field goals mark at the start of the first, but only contributed 4 points and 1 rebound. Jia Perkins' 13 points combined with Sylvia Fowles 11 rebounds, could not stop the Sparks' energy and momentum down the court.
"I thought they played with a chip on their shoulder and determination. Perhaps we had a big of a hangover," said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve.
Los Angeles and Minnesota were even in almost every statistical category, but ultimately one category determined the winner-turnovers. The Lynx remain number one in the WNBA in points off of turnovers, averaging 22 points, but turnovers ultimately led to the Lynx defeat with Los Angeles scoring 22 points off of 18 turnovers.
"We needed to do a better job of helping each other and we couldn't do that consistently enough to make it easier on ourselves, which turned into 20-something points off of our turnovers," Moore commented, "Against a good team, you can't let that happen, but they do a good job of trying to pressure and today we didn't overcome that part of our game plan."
Tuesday night's seesaw battle continued, as Los Angeles had an 8-0 run at the end of the half, leading by just one-point, 38-37. The first half set an intense tone, as both teams were ready for battle.
The third quarter shaped up to be an old fashion showdown between Moore and Toliver, as the two went back and fourth with back-to-back three-pointers. The Sparks led by as many as nine points, as Moore responded with five three-pointers, but the Lynx trailed, 65-59, headed into the fourth—a quarter that may haunt the team forever, as the Lynx let up 29 points.
Sparks head coach Brian Agler commented; "I thought we played well and competed. I don't think our effort our desire or our focus was any different than Tuesday. I just thought we ran better offense, especially in the second half where we were much more efficient."
Minnesota was determined to make history, but failed to get points on the board, resulting in an 18-point loss, a deficit Minnesota is not too familiar with.
"We didn't do a lot of things we wanted to do. I thought LA had way more bounce in their step than we did throughout most of the game. They were very persistent, they executed, they executed on their timeouts well. We just didn't have all that," said Reeve.
Minnesota meets Los Angeles again on Sept. 6. The Lynx will try to bounce back after a tough loss on their home court, on June 26, at Washington.