It was a battle of the WNBA's top teams on Sunday night, with the New York Liberty taking down the Minnesota Lynx, 75-71. Minnesota came in one game behind New York in the race for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. With the win, the Liberty (22-9) continued to pull ahead of the Lynx (21-11) -- and clinched the number one seed in the East.
It was unclear if the reigning league MVP Maya Moore would make an appearance in Sunday's matchup after leaving Friday's win over Indiana in the third quarter when she took an elbow to the face.
She seemed very much unfazed by the injury, scoring 12 points in the opening quarter as Minnesota pulled ahead for an early lead, 21-19. The team shot 50% from the field, going 8-for-16, and 50% from behind the arc (3-for-6).
The second quarter saw eight lead changes as both teams battled on the floor, but it was the Lynx that held on to a 43-39 lead at the intermission. Moore continued to lead all scorers, with 16 points, with the unsung hero of the first half being Renee Montgomery, who scored nine points and dished out six assists.
Epiphany Prince led the charge for New York in the first half, scoring 11 points while shooting 50% from the floor. The Liberty held the advantage on the boards, 18-13, due to the aggressive play on the glass by Tina Charles, who grabbed seven rebounds to go along with 11 points.
New York came out strong in the second half, as Tanisha Wright scored five straight points, and a Tina Charles' jumper brought the team within two. Prince followed up with five points of her own as the Liberty jumped out to a four-point lead. A Swin Cash layup with 4:19 remaining prompted a Minnesota timeout.
The Lynx gathered some momentum at the end of the quarter, with Sylvia Fowles and Moore each scoring off of strong takes to the hole. However, the Liberty held on for a 63-59 lead heading into the fourth, as Tina Charles already secured a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds after three-quarters.
New York extended their lead to six to open up the final quarter, but a Moore three and a Fowles layup brought the Lynx within one with 5:50 remaining. The two teams traded baskets, and a Montgomery free throw kept Minnesota within two, with 2:36 remaining.
Minnesota called a timeout with 31.7 seconds remaining in the game, looking to set up something after nearly two minutes of both teams exchanging fouls and missed shots. A rare turnover by Moore with 16 seconds remaining forced Rebekkah Brunson to foul. Sugar Rodgers was sent to the line and finished both free throws, to extend New York's lead to four.
Tina Charles led the charge for New York, finishing her double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Epiphany Prince also scored 18 points, while dishing out six assists, and Tanisha Wright added 16 points and seven assists. Maya Moore led all scorers in the game, finishing with 23 points, with teammate Sylvia Fowles finishing just shy of a double-double, with 19 points and nine rebounds.