Minneapolis, MN — Last week, Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx found themselves on the losing side when they took on the Connecticut Sun — the second time this season.
And on Sunday, it looked like Moore and the Lynx would drop another one, what would have been their third loss this year against the Sun.
But a big run in the third quarter was enough to push the Lynx over the Sun, giving them a 93-79 win.
“We knew if we could get some things done offensively, that would be, hopefully, the deal breaker,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. “If we could defend as hard as we could and then be able to do our thing on offense. I thought, for the most part, we were able to do that.”
The first quarter was very tightly played, with neither team able to separate from the other. In fact, the game was tied 21-21 after the opening period.
By the midway point through the second quarter, it looked as if this game would go all the way down to the wire. However, Lynx center Sylvia Fowles turned things around with her inside game, and started dominating in the post. They finished the first half with 11 points and four rebounds, pushing the Lynx to a 44-34 lead going into the locker room.
Fowles, though, didn’t think of her gameplay on Sunday as any different. She was just staying calm and doing what she does best.
“[I was] just playing my game,” Fowles said. “Me getting beat up is the story of my life, but just trying to maintain my composure, listen to my teammates [who] are getting me involved and keeping me within our circle. Not getting overwhelmed and all that good stuff, so that’s how I was able to be effective tonight.”
The Lynx then opened up the third quarter on a massive 14-5 run, giving them a 17-point lead over Connecticut. From there, the run would stall out, with Minnesota holding a solid double-digit lead and all of the momentum in the game.
Minnesota then pushed out to a 20-point lead early on in the fourth quarter, and were in full control. While Connecticut would push back late in the fourth, it wasn’t enough. The Lynx fended off the Sun late en route to a 14-point win, their ninth consecutive home win.
The Lynx’s run, though, was fueled by a strong defensive presence. While they’ve struggled on it lately, the Lynx were talking more on defense Sunday night. They held the Sun to just 13 points in the second quarter, and kept them struggling in the third enough to build a lead.
Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen said that all had to do with communication.
“We started talking a lot more; we were communicating great, and I thought that we went on that run to end the half, which was really good,” Whalen said. “We just got a couple scores at the other end, but overall I think it was just our defensive intensity and able to get those stops we needed that allowed us to get that lead.
“That was really big for us.”
Forward Moore led the Lynx with 24 points Sunday night. Fowles was right behind with 18 points and eight rebounds, and forward Rebekkah Brunson ended with 13 points.
Sun guard Alex Bentley led Connecticut with 16 points and six assists. Center Jonquel Jones finished with a double-double 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Chiney Ogwumike also finished with 14 points. Forward Camille Little ended with 11 and guard Courtney Williams also ended in double figures with 10 points.
The Sun will have until next Friday before they see the court again, when they take on the New York Liberty. The Lynx will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the first-place Sparks in a much-anticipated match-up.
“We feel good. Everybody’s trying to make the playoffs, everybody’s trying to get positioning, so all these games are huge,” Whalen said of their upcoming game against the Sparks.
“A lot of great teams are really fighting for spots... so all of these teams are really playing well and giving us good fights this whole time, and now we’ve got to go on the road.”