New York, NY -- A crowd of 7,004 poured into Madison Square Garden on Thursday, May 18, to watch the Minnesota Lynx (1-0) take on the New York Liberty (1-0). Both teams looking for a 2-0 start after winning their season openers last weekend, but only one team would achieve it.
New York has won four of the last six match-ups, but even with home-court advantage and cheering fans, the Liberty was unable to pull out a win.
“We didn’t execute appropriately. We have to be more disciplined and we weren’t tonight.” said Coach Bill Laimbeer. “Too many mistakes, too many missed assignments. I didn't know what to expect. I think I'll know more after game 4. We're definitely a work in process.”
New York took an early 8-0 lead, but were interrupted by a layup and three-pointer by Lynx forward, Seimone Augustus. Plenette Pierson also contributed a three pointer for Minnesota.
Liberty guard Sugar Rodgers, who is in her fifth season with the team, nailed two three pointers of her own, with forward Cierra Burdick adding on one more. The teams tied it up three times in the first period, however, the Liberty couldn’t measure up to the Lynx, as they ended the first period trailing, 24-19.
In the second quarter, New York experienced a “sugar” rush as Rodgers caught fire, closing the gap with two three-pointers. Rodgers scored 11 of her team’s 21-points in the second. With a new found offense, the Liberty outscored Minnesota 21-19 to pull their deficit to only three as the teams headed into intermission, 43-40.
There was a glimmer of hope during the third stanza as a layup by the Liberty’s Kiah Stokes and three more points by Rodgers landed New York in the lead at 45-43. It was only a minute later, though until Minnesota scored 17 of the next 19 points.
Lindsay Whalen led Minnesota with 12 points, one rebound and two assists. All five of the Lynx starters were in double digits, with Whalen and Sylvia Fowles each contributing 12 points.
In the final quarter, New York tried to redeem themselves. Brittany Boyd sparked an early run, nailing nine of the Liberty’s 15 points. However, after one wrong step, Boyd was sidelined for a possible season-ending Achilles injury midway through the final period. She was immediately taken to the locker room and will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
When the Lynx needed her the most, Maya Moore responded like only she could do: knocking down shots. By the end of the game, Moore flirted with a triple double as she finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.
"I always try to find ways to impact the game. Sometimes it happens in 40 minutes, sometimes 10 - I'm always ready to make plays." Moore said. "I don't always measure my success by points. I'm not super concerned as long as the team flows.”
Minnesota refused to budge, closing with a 16-4 run and ending the game with their biggest lead at 90-71, and their first on the road win of the season.
The Lynx will be traveling to Texas to take on the Dallas Wings on Saturday, May 20 and the Liberty will be going out west as they face the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday, May 23.