Hours after being named the WNBA's most valuable player, Maya Moore scored 24 points to help the defending champion Minnesota Lynx fought of the pesky San Antonio Stars 88-84 in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals on Aug. 21.
Moore, who was named the league's most valuable player earlier in the day, added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in the win.
Seimone Augustus tallied 16 points and Lindsay Whalen supplied 10 points and 11 assists for Minnesota. Kayla McBride paced San Antonio with a 21 points while Danielle Adams recorded a 12-point, 10- rebound night.
Minnesota (26-9) took a 65-53 lead into the fourth quarter. After a Jia Perkins layup to open the stanza’s scoring, the Lynx rolled off five straight points to push their lead to 15 (70-55) with 9 minutes remaining.
''I was happy for a large part of the game, then something bad happened. Up 70-55 we kind of had them right where we wanted and then the bottom fell out defensively,'' said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, crediting Augustus, who has battled knee problems this season, for righting the ship. ''Mone was big. Those last three baskets were huge for us.''
However, veteran Becky Hammon wouldn’t let her San Antonio Stars (16-19) go down without a fight. Hammon, who will retire after the season, scored 12 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter to help the Stars take a 73-72 lead at the 4:12 mark.
Moore answered with a layup that jumpstarted a 10-4 run that Augustus capped with a jumper with just over a minute to play. Hammon then knocked down a three-pointer with 25 seconds left to cut the deficit to two, but, Whalen hit two free throws before Hammon converted a layup with just a second on the clock as the Lynx held on.
Game two is Aug. 23 at San Antonio.