The Minnesota Lynx kicked off the second half of the regular season on a high note.
Minnesota edged past the New York Liberty 76-75 on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center to improve to a WNBA-leading 17-2 overall on the season.
“The first half, we felt pretty good about what we had going on. Offensively, we were playing to our identity. We threw the ball inside early and often and (Sylvia Fowles) did what Syl does, which is make layups, get fouled, make free throws. The second half, we got away from that,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game. “Maya (Moore) got hot during a stretch, but then we needed to kind of get back to it. We were fortunate to win the game. That’s a trademark of this team is finding a way to win.”
The game came down to the final seconds in front of another sizable Lynx crowd of 10,123 on Tuesday.
With the game tied 74-74 late, Lindsay Whalen hit a double-clutch jumper on the baseline to put Minnesota up 76-74 with 47.7 seconds remaining.
“I ended up making kind of a tough shot. I kind of wanted to turn the corner a little bit more and Kiah Stokes did a really nice job of cutting it off. I went back to look to see if there was anything in the middle and there wasn’t, they played it pretty well,” Whalen recalled. “I was kind of able to get into her body a little bit and got the finish. It’s always good when shots like that go in and it ended up being the game-winner, so we’ll take it.”
After Epiphanny Prince made one of two free throws, New York had a chance to win the game with five seconds remaining and down one, but Sugar Rodgers missed a three and Minnesota came away with the win.
“(Whalen’s shot) was just like we drew it up,” Reeve joked. “We got a little bit crossed up because we wanted to take the ball out on the other side of the floor. It was designed where Whay was supposed to drive baseline, so I guess she got cut off and she made lemonade.”
Whalen finished the game with 12 points and two assists for the Lynx. Moore led the way with 27 points and five rebounds, Fowles had 18 points and nine rebounds, Plenette Pierson had seven points and five rebounds off the bench and Seimone Augustus added six points, three assists and three rebounds.
The Liberty were led by Tina Charles with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Prince had 19 points and five rebounds, Rebecca Allen had eight points and four rebounds and Shavonte Zellous and Bria Hartley each added seven points.
“I don’t think we played our best defense tonight, but we stepped up to the challenge,” Fowles said. “I’m happy with the win. We are going to go back and scope this thing out and see some areas where we can clear up and get ready for Atlanta.”
With the win, Minnesota extends its winning streak to four straight games. New York falls to 10-10 on the year with the loss.
And although the game was closer than she would have liked, a win is a win for Reeve.
“By one or by 21, Bill Laimbeer always told me, win the game,” she said.