Minneapolis, MN — The Minnesota Lynx won their eighth straight game at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Friday night, improving their record to 23-5, as they bid for the No. 1 overall seed. The reigning WNBA champions dominated the Washington Mystics 75-69, behind a strong first half and nearly perfect free-throw shooting.
Both teams opened the game with a sense of urgency, getting on the board within the first 35 seconds. Mystics center Stefanie Dolson knocked down a quick jumper for Washington, followed by Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson responding with a jumper of her own. Though both teams started off hot, Minnesota was on fire, taking a seven-point lead in the first four minutes.
Though the Mystics went on a 6-1 run to cut their deficit to four, the Lynx stayed on top throughout the first quarter. Minnesota shot at a 56 percent efficiency, and Washington stayed within reach at 53 percent. The Lynx finished the first 10 minutes of play with a 24-21 lead behind seven points and five rebounds from center Sylvia Fowles.
Minnesota continued to dominate, and owned the second quarter. Within the first three minutes, the Lynx went on an 11-3 run and bumped their lead up to 10. Fowles neared a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds, and forward Maya Moore added nine points, going 5-for-8, and led all scorers with 14 points.
Minnesota led by as much as 13, however, before heading into the locker room, Washington cut the deficit to 43-34, led by center Emma Meesseman with seven first-half points.
Dolson opened up scoring again in the third quarter, hitting a three-pointer after a minute-and-a-half of play. The Mystics held the Lynx scoreless for the first three minutes, before Fowles drew two consecutive fouls and sunk all four shots from the free throw line. With the help of six second-chance points, Minnesota took a 12-point lead halfway through the quarter.
The Mystics closed on a 14-6 run, and the Lynx had eight turnovers for eight Washington points. However, Minnesota held a 55-51 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play. Fowles reached her eighth double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds, and Moore continued to lead all scorers with 14 points.
In the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Mystics guard Leilani Mitchell tied the game at 55 with a jumper. With three minutes left to play, both teams’ Twitter accounts deemed it “crunch time” as the Lynx held a 63-60 lead. Both teams made one free throw each, and Mystics forward LaToya Sanders knocked down a jumper to cut Washington’s deficit to one point.
Two free throws and a jumper by Moore put the Lynx back up by five, propelling the Lynx to a 75-69 victory. Moore led all scorers with 27 points and six rebounds, followed by Fowles with 15 points and 17 rebounds.
Minnesota finished shooting 38 percent from the field, and 90 percent from the free throw line. Washington finished with a 39 percent field goal efficiency, and went 70 percent from the charity stripe.
Minnesota will play four of its last five games on the road after closing its current three-game home stand against the Connecticut Sun (10-17) on Sunday. The Los Angeles Sparks will host Lynx on Sept. 6 in a game that could be a determining factor for the No. 1 spot in the playoffs.