With the San Antonio Stars causing defensive mishaps in the first half of Friday night's game, the Minnesota Lynx deduced that speeding things up would create a disruption. The result was a third quarter annihilation that catapulted the Lynx to an 88-72 win at Target Center.
Trailing 39-36 at halftime, Minnesota (6-0) outscored San Antonio (3-3) 33-10 in the third. A renewed focus on making pass deflections led to the Lynx scoring 18 points off 9 Stars turnovers in the period.
"They sped us up. They can do that because, athletically, they're very challenging in that situation. That's what happens to us when we don't value the ball," said San Antonio head coach Dan Hughes.
The third quarter shift altered what was a jump-shooting battle to a more preferable environment for the Lynx, where offense comes from transition buckets and creating lanes down low.
San Antonio tried to keep things close with perimeter shooting, hitting 14 of 28 three-pointers, but they had few answers elsewhere. Minnesota had a 40-16 advantage for points in the paint and scored 30 points off turnovers for the game.
Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve thought her team displayed their best defensive performance of the season.
"We were much more active in the second half. I thought we recovered the shooters better," she said.
Maya Moore led the Lynx with 26 points and 9 rebounds. Lindsay Whalen followed with 19 points, but the most impressive performance could easily belong to rookie forward Damiris Dantas. She finished with a season-high 17 points, including her first career three-pointer at the end of regulation.
The performance out of the first-year player could be considered a metaphorical rebound following a bizarre sequence with 6:42 left in the second quarter. Dantas took an elbow to the bridge of her nose from Kayla Alexander, and confusion ensued as Dantas was lying on the court. Lynx athletic trainer Chuck Barta walked on the floor to examine her, but an injury timeout had not yet been granted, leading to a technical foul issued against the Lynx bench.
Reeve believed the ruling was "wrongly administered," but contempt quickly gave way to playful banter.
"I told him he's in good company, but I'm sure from now until the end of the season he will get ribbed for that one," she said.
Sure enough, the Lynx locker room was full of quips about their athletic trainer officially registered in a WNBA box score.
"He gotta pay the money, so his money is going on our next half-court shot," said Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus, referencing a team practice ritual.
Jia Perkins led San Antonio with 15 points and 7 rebounds, followed by 11 points apiece from Danielle Adams and Danielle Robinson.
"Your offense seems so bad once their offense gets going and you're not getting stops. They were shooting gaps," Perkins said.
The same two teams meet Sunday afternoon in San Antonio to complete the home-and-home weekend.