The focus of this game for Minnesota was to display a strong defensive mentality, to make smart decisions with the basketball, and execute on the offensive end. The team rallied around Lynx reserve forward Devereaux Peters return to the lineup after knee surgery, and defense seemed to be the order of the day.
Peters herself got into consummate foul trouble leading to three fouls in only three minutes of playing time, but the undefeated Lynx stood tall at home against a tough San Antonio team known for being deadly from behind the 3pt stripe.
“We were very active, got a lot of deflections. We have a competition to see who can get the most deflections in games. The third quarter we got out hands on a lot of balls and made it difficult for them.”
Minnesota Lynx forward Seimone Augustus
The first half of the contest was evenly played by both teams, Lynx forward Maya Moore put up 18 points on 7-10 from the floor. She found help from veteran Lynx forward Seimone Augustus, rookie forward Damiris Dantas, and point guard Lindsay Whalen; they combined to tie Moore’s 18 points and accounted for the rest of Minnesota’s first half scoring.
San Antonio’s Becky Hammon picked up 9 points on 3-4 from beyond the arch sparking a 8-15 team 3pt assault that, tempered with Danielle Robinson pushing the ball into the paint and Jayne Appel contributing in the post, gave the Stars a 39-36 lead at the end of the first half.
“At the point guard position you have to be able to lead your team no matter who you’re facing. Obviously Lindsay (Whalen) is one of the best so you have to take it in stride and know you’re fighting for your teammates just like she is for hers.”
San Antonio Stars guard Danielle Robinson
The third quarter became a tale of turnovers. Minnesota maintained fantastic control, only allowing 1 turnover the entire quarter. While San Antonio found themselves overwhelmed by the aggressive play of the defending WNBA Champions, giving up 9 third quarter turnovers which led to 18 Lynx points.
“I guess we were just careless. They were shooting gaps and just came out more aggressive in the third quarter.”
San Antonio Stars guard Jia Perkins
In addition to great defense, Minnesota executed their offense to perfection putting up 33 points on 57.9% shooting during the quarter, they also shared the ball well by having 7 players in the scoring column, and out hustled San Antonio to take a 69-49 advantage going into the final quarter of play.
“It felt really good. I felt like we were just kind of playing and moving the ball and going inside out, which was great. Janel started making some shots, Dee (Damiris) started making some shots, which really opened it up for everybody and things really got going for us.”
Minnesota Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen
The Stars attempted to right the ship and corrected a lot of mistakes during the fourth quarter, Jia Perkins showed her resilience by putting up 11 of her 15 total points during the fourth, while the team struggled to catch up to Minnesota in the final 10 minutes.
Lindsay Whalen came on late, as she has multiple times this season, putting up 9 of her 19 total points during the final quarter, and pushed the Lynx to their 6th victory of the season out of six games.
Team leaders for the Stars were: Jia Perkins, who led all San Antonio scorers with 15 points (2 tied at 11). Jayne Appel, who picked up 9 rebounds, and Becky Hammon, who added 7 assists.
For the Lynx: Maya Moore led the scoring with 26, followed by Lindsay Whalen with 19, Dimiris Dantas with 17, and Seimone Augustus picked up 14 points in a well-rounded scoring attack. Maya Moore also led the team in rebounds with 9, and tied with center Janelle McCarville for top assist numbers with each of them recording 5 in the contest.
“I thought our defense was much better tonight, probably our best defensive game of the season. That’s what I told our group, not that we hit everything perfectly, but it was definitely a big step for us.”
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve