The Minnesota Lynx won their 26th game of the season on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Stars in San Antonio, 81-76.
Going against a team that had only won six of their 30 games heading into the ballgame, the Stars gave the Lynx all they could handle, leading Minnesota with under a minute to play in the contest.
“It’s exactly what we told our team, which was the San Antonio Stars, if you pay attention to their record you’re making a big mistake,” Minnesota’s head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Don’t fall into that trap. This team is always prepared, well coached and playing hard. You know they have really good players that are young, but they acted like they’re playing for first place and that’s what we prepared our team for. It was no surprise to us that it came down to the closing minutes of the game because that’s what it’s been for these guys.”
In order to squeak out the victory, the Lynx relied on great scoring performances from Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore, who combined for 37 points in the game.
San Antonio played aggressively all game and forced Minnesota to shoot only 38.5 percent from the field and also outscored the defending WNBA Champions in the paint, 38-22.
While playing physically, aggressively and fast does have its benefits, it also has downfalls. San Antonio sent the Lynx to the free-throw line a season-high 37 times throughout the contest, with Minnesota converting on 28 of those chances.
“It was very close, very intense,” Moore said. “Both teams just worked so hard for the whole game. It just came down to getting stops and scores, whoever can do that better, and we were able to come together and really end the game with those two great scores and two great stops. Just finishing off with free throws, all those little things matter to be able to come out on their home court, you know against a scrappy team, energetic, fast, and they’re a tough team. So it was a good one for us.”
The Speedy Moriah Jefferson had an outstanding game for the Stars, tallying 26 points, four boards, eight assists and two steals. Forwards Monique Currie and Astou Ndour did their best to contribute as well, combining for 32 points, 11 rebounds and three steals.
“It’s really difficult when you know you want to win so bad and you come back every game and then you keep getting the same results,” Jefferson said. “I think the good thing about this team is that we keep fighting, and keep seeing that every game. We come back and we’re still fighting, we’re still trying to get that win, so we try not to let our record define the rest of our season and just go out fighting and I think we get that compliment a lot from the other team. It’s like, ‘no matter what y’all’s record is, y’all always play really hard.’”
All 11 players who saw the court for Minnesota scored and like Jefferson and Coach Reeve said, despite their record, San Antonio always brings their A-game.
“You know, it was a really good basketball game,” Stars head coach Dan Hughes said. “I told the team, and you could see it in their eyes, the disappointment to not win the game. But if you’re talking about playing to the top of your potential, there were times in that game. That’s what we’re striving to do. There are a lot of minutes that I’m like ‘Wow, there’s a maturity to what we were doing.’ They took the game plan to the game in a really mature way, and they competed good.”