It was a game that began with celebration, including the distribution of the 2013 WNBA Championship rings by Minnesota Lynx Owner Glen Taylor and WNBA President Laurel Richie. The Lynx faithful filled the arena to show their support for the defending champions, as well as their enthusiasm for the return of WNBA basketball to the Target Center in Minneapolis.
The Connecticut Sun found their stride early, and came out playing a very intelligent and focused brand of basketball. Starting guard Katie Douglas displayed great efficiency while starting rookie center Chiney Ogwumike showed tremendous grit and hustle. The Sun outshot the Lynx 57.9% to 41.2% and outscored the Lynx 51-38 through the first half of play.
“I want to give Connecticut a lot of credit. I thought they were terrific in terms of how they came out and how they competed right from the get go…They had a great game plan and for the better part of the game, they were the better team. “
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve
The second half saw a different Lynx team, with more focus and intensity. They stepped up on the defensive end of the floor by creating turnovers, clogging lanes, and challenging shots. Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus and forward Maya Moore fueled the offense, allowing the Lynx to make a run and close the margin to just 4 points heading into the fourth quarter.
“We just wanted to stay focused, stay level headed. It doesn’t matter the opponent, we have to have each other’s back and we did that tonight. “
Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike
The fourth quarter became a battle for momentum as both teams battled hard for every possession and every score became critical. The Lynx were able to take advantage of some early turnovers by the Suns and take their first lead of the contest with 7:01 left in the forth. Connecticut maintained their composure and rookie center Chiney Ogwumike helped push Minnesota back.
Down by 6 points with 01:23 left in the 4th Lynx forward Maya Moore was able to create a steal against Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, leading to a sequence in which Moore missed a close jumper secured the rebound in a crowd, and managed to knock down a quick fadeaway to bring the game within 4 with the score 74-78.
On the following possession the Lynx defense stood strong without fouling and forced a shot clock violation on the Sun giving the Lynx possession with 49 seconds left in the quarter. Seimone Augustus finds Lindsay Whalen who knocks down a 15-ft jumper with 35 seconds left making it a one-possession game. As the clock continued to shrink Alyssa Thomas took a 20-ft jumper which missed it’s mark leading to a struggle for the ball which ended in a jump-ball between Seimone Augustus and Sun forward Kelsey Griffin which fell to Lindsay Whalen who quickly called a timeout.
With the score within 2 points and less than 10 seconds on the clock, Whalen losses the ball out of bounds giving possession back to Connecticut. During the inbound an errant pass by Katie Douglas was intercepted by Maya Moore leading to a Seimone Augustus jumpshot, which tied the game 78-78 with 2.3 seconds left. That key score by Augustus led to overtime when Connecticut guard Allison Hightower missed a half-court heave as time in regulation expired.
“This game was a tale of two halves really. Just not being the aggressor in the first half, offensively we were okay but defensively we weren’t playing the way we were supposed to be. I started being aggressive and taking chances. I can help my team in more ways than just catching and shooting. ”
Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore
Connecticut came into overtime determined and managed to build a 5 point lead relatively early behind the strong play of Chiney Ogwumike, who finished the game with an impressive 25 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 blocks.
Unfortunately for the Sun, Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen took control during the backside of the overtime period having a hand in all 12 points scored for Minnesota during the OT as the Lynx battled to a 90-87 victory over the Sun. During the overtime period Whalen posted 10 points, shot 3-3 from the field, 4-5 from ft, and added an assist and a rebound.
“She (Lindsay Whalen) just put her head down late and went to the basket. When Lindsay’s not scoring she still helps the team. She’s such a great leader and is a consummate point guard. Getting the ball in the right people’s hands and helping her team. ”
Connecticut Sun Head Coach Anne Donovan
Co-player of the game with Lindsay Whalen was Maya Moore. Moore finished the game with an amazing 33 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 assists. Coming up next for the (2-0) Lynx will be back-to-back contest. On Friday the Lynx head to Tulsa to face the Shock and then on Saturday they return to the Target Center to face the San Antonio Stars.