Layshia Clarendon nearly hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win at the end of regulation, but, after it being ruled a make on the floor, replay revealed that they didn’t get it off in time and the Minnesota Lynx and Connecticut Sun went to overtime on Sunday night at Target Center in Minneapolis.
The deflating moment didn’t stop Clarendon from being the hero on the same day they were signed by the Lynx, just 10 days after they were waived by the New York Liberty, a team they scored 11.5 points per game for in 2020.
With 1:06 to play in overtime, Clarendon swished a perfect three from the right wing to put Minnesota up 75-72 and the Lynx went on to win 79-74 after four points from Sylvia Fowles (24 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks) made it 79-72.
“K Mac (Kayla McBride) just put (the pass) right on the money and I was wide open and I knew I just had to let it fly,” Clarendon said. “I think part of me was like ‘yeah they took my game-winner away’ and it felt pretty good.”
Clarendon also made a layup that tied the game at 72 with 1:47 to go and was seen limping around between that make and the crucial three, but hung in there to make the clutch shot. They finished with 12 points.
“They didn’t know anything that we were doing, what we were running,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “You gotta tell them before the ball’s inbounded, ‘hey this is what you’re doing’ and the opponent’s listening as well. They’re just a vet, that’s what you hope for. I was not afraid to put them in the game, obviously we needed that. I though they had control and command of the team. They play well in pick and roll, you saw that a little bit tonight. They had some easy ones that I think they’d love to have back. But difference in the game, no doubt about it. Signing Layshia Clarendon and their debut.”
Lynx point guard Crystal Dangerfield made a big-time jumper in the lane to tie the game with 2.9 seconds left in regulation. Connecticut was then called for a five-second violation while attempting to inbound the basketball and gave Napheesa Collier the chance to inbound the ball to Clarendon with 2.3 seconds remaining. Clarendon dribbled up to about halfway between half court and the 3-point line and let go of a straightaway shot.
When it went through the net, the Target Center went wild.
Minnesota closed the fourth on an 8-0 run with threes coming from McBride and Damiris Dantas before Dangerfield’s two. The team’s largest deficit was 14 with 2:06 to go in the first.
Collier finished with 11 points and seven rebounds while McBride was good for 11 and six plus five assists. McBride’s fellow guards in Dangerfield and Clarendon had seven and five boards, respectively as the Lynx out rebounded the Sun 38-28.
Jonquel Jones (22 points), DeWanna Bonner (18) and Jasmine Thomas (14) all scored in double figures in defeat.
The Lynx (1-4) were a semifinalist last year and have big expectations this year, but started the season off 0-4. On Sunday night they got in the win column and did it against the team that had the best record in the WNBA entering the day, a team that is now 6-2.
“We kind of just have to bottle what we did tonight,” Collier said. “I thought our defense was really good. I thought our rebounding was really really good, especially the guards. So that was awesome. We just have to bottle that and keep it going for the next game.”
The Lynx can breathe a sigh of relief for now and celebrate what was a feel-good moment for the entire WNBA as it got to see a former All-Star who is still just 30 years old return to the court in style.
“I never take for granted playing in this league,” Clarendon said. “I played my ass off in training camp and so I was obviously really devastated based on what I was brought there to do with (New York). But I also knew for me, God never takes me somewhere I’m not meant to be. I was deciding between the Lynx and New York in free agency so I was like ‘hey I know I’m here on like an injury contract, but like, let’s see what happens.’ Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time.”
“I think they were kind of exactly what we needed,” Collier said. “The pace that they play at, kind of just slowing us down a little bit, making sure that we’re in what we need to (be in). And that buzzer-beater counted in our hearts.”