St. Paul, Minnesota — Minnesota wasn’t always the most dominant franchise in the WNBA, far from it actually. That’s until the arrival of Maya Moore, which has been the launching point of the most dominant run in WNBA history. Her alongside Seimone Augustus, Rebecca Brunson and Lindsay Whalen have combined for the most wins in WNBA history.
But this night wasn’t only about history, it was about the continued excellence of Moore.
Although she never lost it completely, to begin with, the superstar forward got her groove back Sunday night just in time – hitting two back-to-back three’s with only a little over a minute left to take the lead and win the battle against the San Antonio Stars.
“She had the opportunity to knock down a couple of big threes and that’s what MVP candidate players should do for you,” Minnesota’s head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It has been well-documented that Maya had struggled early, but now she’s really found her groove.”
Both teams got off to a slow start, making it the lowest scoring first half for the Lynx this season. The Stars led most of the first quarter, but Minnesota quickly found their rhythm and ended the first quarter in a 14-14 tie.
Lindsay Whalen was a great asset despite the slow start, scoring 12 points in the first half – 10 straight in a row at one point. While she isn’t known for draining threes, she cashed in on two triples before halftime at critical momentum spots for the Lynx.
The Stars had a difficult time handling Minnesota’s half court defense and missed easy open shots, but finished the first half just five points behind the Lynx, 36-31.
San Antonio reenergized and buckled down in the second half showing they came to play. The visiting team came out on fire in the third period to not only erase its deficit but take the lead, too. Starting point guard Moriah Jefferson showed out in the third and fourth quarters leading and topping off the scoreboard with 12 points in the second half alone.
Jefferson couldn’t be stopped by the Lynx and they had a little help after Minnesota turned the ball over 12 times, resulting in eight points for San Antonio.
“I was just trying to be aggressive in the pick-and-roll. I know if we set the screens high enough it will be hard for the post to help up on me,” Jefferson said after the game. “I was really just trying to attack to get my teammates open and if they were leaving me I would take the shot,” Jefferson concluded.
In fact, San Antonio outscored the Lynx 31-19 in the third frame, to take a 62-55 lead going into the final stanza of play.
But, that didn’t hold Minnesota back. Like they typically do, the Lynx found a way to strike back and recapture its lead as a team.
“I think (Seimone Augustus) was in a rhythm, Maya (Moore) stepped up big for us, Renee (Montgomery) came in and gave us big minutes, Natasha (Howard) came in and played big, so you definitely felt the switch going our way. We just wanted to keep the momentum going our way,” Sylvia Fowles said following the win.
With her groove back in tack, Moore and Fowles started to take over for Minnesota. At one point in the fourth, Fowles had scored 10 of the Lynx 13 points as they pushed to take control of the game. By the end of the contest, Fowles finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Her partner in crime, Moore also chipped in with 22 points and four rebounds.
“I’m doing what I’ve always tried to do. I still feel like there’s another level that I’m working towards, getting to just personally in my own feel out there on the court. We’re playing great team basketball,” said Moore on finishing her fourth straight game with at least 20 points.
Jefferson capped off the night with 19 points, eight assists, and four steals to lead the Stars. Kayla McBride wasn’t too far behind with 17 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
Although it was close and far from pretty, the Lynx walked away with the win, finishing the game 87-78.
“A lot of our fans just see us win, win, win, but they don’t understand how hard it is,” shared Fowles. “Night’s like this makes you appreciate your teammates even more. Everybody stepped up to the plate and took on the challenge. I’m happy and I’m just trying to push forward and get ready for the next game.”
“Just closing out games. I think, especially on the road. We’re playing the best team in the league and we were winning pretty much 34 minutes of the game, but it’s those last six minutes where we really had to come together and that’s something we’re still figuring out,” San Antonio’s head coach Vickie Johnson said following the loss.