Well… that’s one way to start the WNBA Finals.
The Minnesota Lynx suffered a heartbreaking loss on Sunday afternoon, losing in the last second to the Los Angeles Sparks, 78-76.
With 1.3 seconds left in the game, veteran guard Alana Beard got a shot off over the outstretched fingers of Maya Moore, and with 0.0 seconds remaining, the ball swished through the net.
“Give Beard credit for knocking it down,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “She was open. That was certainly a good play by them. We got caught over-helping, and she made a big shot.”
In a back-and-forth contest for the full 40 minutes, it was a couple of defensive stops in the closing minutes and incredible shot from Beard and company that gave the Sparks the edge over the defending Champions in Sunday’s matinee.
Los Angeles’ Big 3 (Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver) accounted for 52 points on 18-for-32 shooting, 19 boards, seven assists and five steals.
“We thrive on getting the ball where we want to get it, and a lot of times that happens to be going inside, and we have to finish, and I know that that’s definitely a responsibility of mine,” Ogwumike said. “I think we did a good job of it, but we still have some things to work on.”
Minnesota also had three players turn in impressive offensive performances on Sunday, but 18 points a piece from Lindsay Whalen, Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore wasn’t enough to overcome their team’s 15 turnovers.
“We lost the game at the foul line and turnovers,” Reeve said. “We couldn’t defend without fouling. I don’t know that we got necessarily much benefit of the whistle. I’ve got to look at some of that stuff. But I thought there was a tough stretch there where it seemed like everything we did was a foul.”
24: As mentioned above, Minnesota struggled moving their feet against the Sparks and allowed LA to shoot this many free throws while the home team only went to the charity stripe 16 times.
50.8: There aren’t many games, especially in the post-season, where a team will shoot this percentage from the floor and come out on the losing end. Unfortunately for the Lynx, their efficient shooting wasn’t enough to cover up their lack of discipline on both ends of the court.
“I thought it was a very competitive game,” Sparks head coach Brian Agler said. “We know that we have a very worthy opponent we’re up against, and just proud of how we handled things down the stretch, gave ourselves a chance to win, making plays both offensively and defensively. Moving forward to Tuesday, we have to make sure we keep our same focus and same energy out there on the floor because we know that they’re a hungry team. They’re trying to make history, and they’re going to come after it.”
25: Minnesota did a great job all night when it came to perimeter defense. LA went 3-for-12 from beyond-the-arc (this percentage), while the Lynx didn’t hit any of their four shots from 3-point range.
7: One thing that Minnesota has going for them in this series is depth. The first-seeded Lynx played 10 players in Game 1 while we only saw this many players take the court from the visiting team.
“LA came in here and beat us, they won the game,” Reeve said. “They had a great deal of energy and passion about what they were doing across the board. They handled adversity well, and we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Leader of the Pack: Lindsay Whalen
The former Golden Gopher had an excellent game and was really the spark in the first half after the Sparks held Moore scoreless. Whalen tallied 12 points in the first half and finished the game with 18 points (8-for-14), two rebounds, six assists and a steal.
“It’s one game,” Whalen said. “We were in this position last year. You know, you regroup, you see what you can do to recover and get back for Tuesday night. We have a group that’s been together for a long time and been a part of a lot of these, so that will be our focus, and we know they’re going to come out in Game 2 — it’s two really good teams. It’s the Finals. It’s what you expect. They got Game 1, they hit a great shot, made some good plays. We’ve got to come back for Game 2.”
Up Next: The two best teams in the WNBA will square off once again on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. inside the Target Center. You can catch the action on ESPN 2 or, as always, on 106.1 BOB FM Radio.