The New York Liberty weren’t the only bottom-four team to get a big win on Wednesday. The Minnesota Lynx (8-15, 11th place) made it back-to-back wins agains the two best teams in the league by defeating the first-place Chicago Sky 81-78 in the afternoon at Target Center in Minneapolis.
Three-point shooting legend Allie Quigley missed a trey to tie at the buzzer, allowing the Lynx to hold on after they had fallen victim to a Courtney Vandersloot game-winner at the buzzer in a June 26th loss in Chicago.
“They made one at their place and they miss one at our place,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. “I guess that’s how it goes sometimes.”
The Lynx had defeated the second-place Las Vegas Aces 102-71 at Target Center on Sunday, so the win over the Sky just added to the positive vibes of a team that is hot right now.
“I don’t know what (beating Vegas and Chicago back-to-back) says other than that our team is trending in the right direction,” Reeve said. “We always want Target Center to be a place that’s very, very difficult for our opponents. And I think that we’ve established that of late, on this home stand. First seven games at home, we didn’t. So this is more the team that we want to be. And I think that’s what it says more than anything is that we’ve grabbed a hold of that identity of being really hard to play against at home. You win your home games, you’re usually gonna be tough enough to win a couple on the road and you can have a special season. So that’s what we’re trying to do is make sure we can control our own destiny with winning our home games.”
“We feel like we can compete with anybody,” said Kayla McBride, who had 15 points and three assists. “We don’t think that our record shows exactly who we are. And so now it’s about just proving that night in and night out ... It’s a good feeling for us because now that’s the standard that we have to hold ourselves to, when we’re beating these kinds of teams.”
“We are where we thought we always would be, as far as like the teams we can beat,” said Aerial Powers who followed up a career-high 32 points against the Aces with 22 points and 11 rebounds against the Sky.
After a recent stretch of eight-straight games shooting under 40 percent from the field, three of Power’s last four games have seen her shoot 7-of-11 (63.6 percent), 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) and 8-of-17 (47.1 percent). All three were Lynx wins.
“She’s listened to some of the points that would lead to greater efficiency, she’s really bought into that,” Reeve said. “And I’m happy. When a player buys in, they find success with what they’re being asked to do and it makes you want to do it again. And Aerial obviously has been really important. Even if I go back to last year, I think when she plays well and plays efficiently, it’s our best chance to win.”
In addition to winning two in a row, the Lynx have won five of seven. It was also huge for them to win a close game. Entering Wednesday, Minnesota had been 2-9 this season in games decided by two possessions or less.
With no byes for the top teams in this year’s playoffs, we could an 8 over 1 and/or a 7 over 2 upset in the first round given how good some of the teams in the bottom half of the standings are capable of being.
“The way our team feels now is ‘Hey, we get a number behind us, whoever we play is in trouble,’” Powers said.