WNBA Report: Lynx Begin Defense of Title Holding Off Silver Stars
MINNEAPOLIS -- In the first playoff round between the Minnesota Lynx and the San Antonio Stars, Minnesota, playing at home, was looking to get one game ahead in the three game series.
MVP Maya Moore, who poured in 26 points accompanied by 6 rebounds and 7 assists, and team leader Lindsey Whalen, who had a solid double-double with 10 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds, proved to be the driving force in the Lynx’s 88-84 win over San Antonio.
The leaders for the Stars were rookie Kayla McBride, with 23 points and 3 rebounds, and Becky Hammon who finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds
In the first couple of minutes, both teams traded baskets. It wasn’t until the Lynx went on a 6-point run and they found themselves up by five points.
For the Stars, McBride, the former Notre Dame standout, had scored all their points, including a jumper to close the gap to three midway through the first quarter.
The first timeout on the floor had the Lynx ahead by four with 4:26 left to go. Early on, Minnesota was distributing the ball and found themselves with fairly even scoring across the board while San Antonio leaned heavily on the scoring of McBride.
With just over two minutes to go in the first, Whalen subbed in and got an immediate pick-and-roll drive to the basket, bringing the audience to its feet and giving the Lynx an 18-10 lead.
Two more quick baskets from Moore gave Minnesota a ten-point lead and forced San Antonio to call the second timeout of the quarter.
The first quarter ended with the Lynx holding on to an eight-point lead at 24-16.
In the second quarter, the Stars quickly cut the lead to four when Janel McCarville’s (11 pts, 5 reb) turnover gave the Stars Danielle Adams (12 pts, 10 reb) an open layup.
Another layup by Adams cut the comfortable lead the Lynx had in the first quarter.
After a long lull in scoring, McCarville got an and-one bringing the Lynx back up five and bringing energy back to the arena.
Moore’s first three pointer came with just over 2:30 left in the half and brought the lead back to ten but the Stars refused to slow down the pace of the game, which They seemed to struggle with.
Slowly but surely, the first half proved that the Lynx controlled the pace of the game.
Even with and and-one play by McBride with 1:26 to go, the Lynx closed the half with a double-digit lead over the Stars, 40-30.
The third quarter was off to a slow start with five fouls committed between both teams in just over two minutes, but the Lynx maintained their lead.
The drive and dish that seemed to be working so well for Minnesota was not going so well for San Antonio.
With 6:44 left in the third, the Stars called a timeout as their deficit climbed to 15.
McBride was the only Star with double-digit scoring late into the third.
Moore was the Lynx leading scorer with 17 points on the night with five minutes left in the third.
A three-pointer by Adams brought the Stars within ten, but a strong power up by McCarville on the other end, killed any momentum.
With just under two minutes to play in the third quarter, San Antonio had crept their way back to a single-digit deficit and were down 56-48 as the Lynx called a timeout.
The tight lead didn’t last long. By the end of the third quarter, and a last second three pointer by Tan White (5 pts), Minnesota was back up by 12 points at 65-53.
The start of the fourth quarter was hot for the Lynx.
Quick buckets by Moore and Whalen forced the Stars to call yet another timeout in just over a minute, now finding themselves back down 15.
The timeout seemed to work for them.
With 6:30 left in the game, the Stars were only down eight points and had possession of the ball.
With that possession, Sophia Young-Malcolm (16 pts, 7 reb) made an and-one play, bringing the Stars within five.
McBride scored again for San Antonio, her third three-pointer of the game, and what was once a comfortable lead for the Lynx turned into a one-possession game with five minutes left to play.
A drive to the basket by Hammon made it the first time, since the score was 0-0, that the Stars and Lynx were tied.
The free throw she got off her and-one gave the Stars their first lead of the game since the very first basket.
With time running out, the Lynx relied on their veteran leaders to stay calm and close the game.
The lead and energy from San Antonio didn’t last long.
Good ball movement by the defending champions and maintaining a quick pace, the Lynx gained a small lead again.
With two minutes to go in the game, they were up three, and nothing made the crowd rise to their feet quite like the and-one play by Whalen.
A timeout was called by San Antonio with one minute remaining.
The Lynx held the lead at 82-77.
Regardless of San Antonio’s attempts with quick buckets and quick fouls, the Lynx made final clutch free throws in that stretch, and the game ended with a four-point win for Minnesota.
San Antonio head coach Dan Hughes knows that even with a home court advantage coming up next for the Stars, it will be a tough win for them.
“You’re going to have to take it away from Minnesota,” he said when asked about taking this playoff series.
This was evident when the Stars took their first lead of the second half and it didn’t seem to phase the Lynx.
With their tenth playoff series in four seasons, the experience of the Lynx players and leaders were key.
“We don’t give up, we don’t panic. It all comes down to getting stops,” said Minnesota’s Maya Moore.
When speaking of the focus the Lynx always seem to have, Moore expressed that their team always looks at what’s right in front of them, not what’s behind.
She reaffirms this when she says, “We’ve won this 40 minutes, and now we’ve got to move on to the next.”
The Lynx will now travel to San Antonio to play the Stars on their home court this Saturday evening.
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