Late 3-Pointer Lifts Lynx Over Sparks In Battle Of The Unbeatens

There’s officially one undefeated team left in the WNBA.

If you didn’t have the chance to tune in to the Minnesota Lynx game against the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday afternoon, I’m sorry.

In an epic battle that had a WNBA Finals feel to it, Renee Montgomery hit a corner 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to lift the Lynx past the Sparks, 72-69.

“They ran a really good play,” Sparks head coach Brian Agler said. “The main thing we had today was that we should not let the penetration occur. It was a very good play by the Lynx. We just didn’t play the way we need to play down the stretch. So that’s something that we need to spend time on to improve.”

The now 13-0 Lynx got a phenomenal effort once again from their bench who, as a unit, combined for 26 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and eight steals.

Minnesota also had to overcome some adversity throughout the contest as Maya Moore got into foul trouble early and only played 20 minutes.

Rebekkah Brunson was all over the court on Tuesday, finishing with 12 points, nine boards (five offensive) and two steals/blocks. Sylvia Fowles did a phenomenal job defensively shutting down Sparks’ workhorse Nneka Ogwumike, and also added seven points and 11 rebounds on the offensive end.

Kristi Toliver had a great game for Los Angeles, scoring 20 points, grabbing four rebounds and hitting four of her eight shots from beyond-the-arc.

“Since a lot of our games haven’t been that close, we should anticipate that competitive actions are expected,” Sparks guard Kristi Toliver said. “We have another opportunity to play the Lynx, and even though it left bad taste in our mouth, but we have to replay the game in our minds and apply what we’ve learned.”

Veteran Candance Parker struggled against Minnesota’s bigs (Fowles and Brunson) and went 3-for-13 from the field. Alana Beard and Essence Carson both turned in solid performances for the Sparks, teaming up for 21 points, five boards, four assists and five steals.

“I thought we defended Kristi Toliver and Nneka Ogwumike very well but Candace [Parker] went off, we gave her too many good shots,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “They have a lot of great players so you can’t just take one away you have to take them all away.”

Numbers game:

13: Minnesota has done a good job all season of controlling the glass and that didn’t change on Tuesday, out-rebounding the Sparks by this many.

“Both teams were active on the defensive end,” Lynx guard Seimone Augustus said. “It was just a matter of settling in on the offensive end once we got over the defensive tenacity and intensity they were bringing.”

9: For a player averaging more than 17 points coming into the matchup, the Lynx did a tremendous job shutting down Nneka Ogwumike, holding her to single-digit points in 29 minutes of action.

“This is what you play for, fun games between two competitive teams,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “It was a fun game to be a part of and so many people were tuning in just because of how well we have been playing to this point. You saw two excellent teams going at it, we didn’t necessarily get the offensive flow as much but we had big moments from different people at different times to where you can really see the determination from everyone on the court.”

16: A major theme of Minnesota’s success this year has been the play of their bench. That storyline continued against Los Angeles as the Lynx’ bench players outscored the Sparks’ bench by this many points.

20: After finding herself in some early foul trouble, Moore was held to playing this many minutes in the game. For a team to go out and get a ‘W’ when their leader, who usually plays more than 30 minutes, is not on the court for as long as expected is very impressive.