The Seattle Storm officially clinched a playoff berth for the 10th consecutive season, but a post-season qualification was little consolation Saturday night, when the Minnesota Lynx routed them for a 97-74 win at Target Center.
"They were hitting shots. We had some defensive breakdowns and they capitalized off of it," said Seattle guard Temeka Johnson.
Minnesota (22-7) hit 57.7 percent of their shots en route to their fourth straight win, and hovered above the 60 percent threshold until reserves came in late. However, Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve was displeased with their defense in the first quarter with the score at 31-26.
Seattle (15-15) ultimately succumbed to Minnesota's tempo, giving up 25 points off 14 turnovers as the game became a blowout by the end of the third quarter.
"We got back to our shell defense, helping each other and finishing plays," said Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen.
Maya Moore led all players with 30 points, marking the second time in the last three games she has scored 30 or more. 25 points came in the first half, and she hit 12 of 15 shots overall.
"Whenever the ball is going in like that, it gets your teammates excited. I want to make sure our offensive flow is the best that it can be," Moore said.
Seimone Augustus added 16 points and rookie Rachel Jarry scored a season-high 14 points.
Jarry was called to action after Reeve grew weary of Seattle's perimeter offense. The Australian responded by hitting five of six shots, highlighting a productive evening from the Minnesota bench.
"I didn't expect three of our bench players to get double-figure minutes," Reeve said. "Everything just fit together for us. When the bench gets their opportunity and they're very productive like that, it's a great thing for this team."
Tina Thompson led the Storm with 18 points, and Temeka Johnson added 16.
Saturday marked the first of three consecutive games Seattle will face off with Minnesota, allowing them to invest time and strategy to counter their blistering pace.
"We don't want to get in a transition game with them," Thompson said. "If we can get them out of our comfort zone, our job will be a lot easier."
Minnesota's next game is Wednesday against Los Angeles and figures to have major implications in the Western Conference standings. The Lynx are only one game ahead of the Sparks for first place