Nine of the Minnesota Lynx’s 14 losses this year have been by eight or less. Six have been by four or less, including each of the last four. The last three were against three of the best teams in the league. The Lynx lost by two to the fourth-place Seattle Storm on June 14, by one to the first-place Las Vegas Aces on June 19 and by three to the second-place Chicago Sky on Sunday.
Sunday’s loss at Wintrust Arena in Chicago came on a Courtney Vandersloot three that broke an 85-85 tie at the buzzer.
“(Moriah) Jefferson thought that maybe (Emma) Meesseman was gonna get free so she helped and left Sloot and Syl(via Fowles) wasn’t able to get back out to (Sloot),” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said of the play.
The dagger came after a 15-4 Minnesota run had tied the game at 85 with seven seconds to play. The Lynx were point guard-less during the stretch, which is something they hadn’t practiced at all. Yet it worked for Reeve, who was frustrated with the team’s point guard play all game. Kayla McBride was fouled on a three at the seven-second mark and made all three free throws to close the run.
The great effort by the team to come back made the end result all the more heartbreaking.
“We gotta learn how to be a team that can make plays at the end defensively, or really offensively or defensively, make plays to win these kinds of games,” Reeve said. “That's the next step for this team.”
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak; the Lynx had defeated the Phoenix Mercury comfortably last Tuesday and last Thursday. It also caused the team to fall into a last-place tie with the Indiana Fever. Both teams are 5-14 and 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
With Napheesa Collier out on maternity leave, we knew the Lynx would be missing a superstar and wouldn't be the same team that finished third in the regular season last year. But they were still picked sixth in Swish Appeal’s preseason power rankings. Being in last place is certainly a disappointment, though Fowles has missed some time due to injury.
On Sunday, the Lynx shot a scorching 58.9 percent from the field and still lost. What killed them was 27 points allowed off 18 turnovers.
“Chicago’s a good defensive team, but I thought we made them look really good in the turnovers and then 27 points off of them,” Reeve said. “They end up with 48 points in the paint. When you shoot 58.9 percent, you should win a game. Our team hasn't learned how to do that this year. How many times have we shot this year better than 50 and lost? If we weren’t scoring, we were turning it over.”