Whalen, Lynx Step Up Late To Take 2-0 Series Lead

Mitchell Hansen
Web Editorial Associate

The Minnesota Lynx knew that coming into Game 2 of the semifinals against the Washington Mystics on Thursday night, they would be faced with some challenges and would be forced to step up when it mattered most.

They certainly didn’t disappoint.

Minnesota made a late-game surge to come back to beat Washington and take Game 2 at Williams Arena 93-83 in to improve their series lead to 2-0.

“It was just a great playoff game. It had to be a lot of fun to watch. More fun for the Lynx in that we won, but I thought Washington played well,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game. “I thought they had where they wanted us in certain situations and back on our heels a little bit. But that’s a part of a series, you can never get too high or too low. You just have to stay locked in.”

The Mystics carried a 75-73 lead in the fourth quarter of play in Thursday night’s game, highlighting a back-and-forth second half between Washington and Minnesota.

But then the experienced-filled Lynx kicked things up a notch in the final half of the fourth quarter.

Minnesota went on a 20-8 run to finish the fourth quarter to come away with the victory.

“Tonight, was what it’s all about. This is why you work hard, this is why you play hard. This is why Syl came back in MVP form to play in these games, because these are what it’s all about,” Lindsay Whalen said. “Games like these are why I rehabbed so hard to get my hand healthy to get to play. We all want to do it together, because these are the nights that, this is why you play. That’s why you work hard, that’s why you do all the conditioning and make all the sacrifices to play in games like this in this playoff atmosphere with the fans going crazy.”

On the night that she received her MVP award prior to the game, Sylvia Fowles led the way with 25 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks.

“I knew the task at hand, so I didn’t really want to take what happened here out onto the court, but my teammates are there every time I need them to pick me up,” Fowles said. “They congratulated me and (Whalen) right here talked to me and gave me words of encouragement to play the way I know I’m capable of playing and I took it from there.”

Maya Moore had 22 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter alone, along with five assists and five rebounds, Seimone Augustus had 15 points and six assists, Brunson had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds and Lindsay Whalen added nine points, seven assists and three rebounds.

“We still have more that we can do. I thought we were better tonight defensively than what we were in Game 1. I just thought both teams left it out there. I thought the great players were great,” Reeve said. “What else could you ask for in a playoff game for each team? I know that Washington lost, but this was just one of those things where both teams left it out there and there was a lot of great basketball.”

Kristi Toliver had 25 points and six assists and Elena Delle Donne had 25 points and five rebounds to lead Washington. Natasha Cloud had eight points and five rebounds, Allison Hightower had eight points and three rebounds and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added five points, four rebounds and three assists.

“That was two teams slugging it out for 40 minutes it what it was. That’s what it’s all about.,” Whalen said. “We know we have more work to do, but tonight we are going to enjoy the win and be happy that the fans came out. . . It ended up being a fun night out there.”

With the win, Minnesota takes a 2-0 series lead over Washington and are one win away from sweeping the semifinals series 3-0.

Highlight Of The Game

With 4:17 left in the fourth quarter, Moore converted on an and-one to put the Lynx up for good.

That and-one broke a 75-75 tie and helped spark a late-game run for Minnesota.

The Numbers Game

  • Minnesota finished shooting 50.7 percent from the field in the game, while Washington shot 41.1 percent from the floor.
  • The Lynx held a 50-32 advantage over the Mystics in points in the paint.
  • There was a total of 10 lead changes and the game was tied a total of seven times.

Player Of The Game

Thursday night’s Lynx Player of the Game goes to Lindsay Whalen.

Whenever the Lynx needed a spark to get them going, mainly in the second half, Whalen provided just that.

Whalen finished the game with nine points, seven assists and three rebounds, including shooting 4-of-8 from the field.

“Lindsay was unbelievable in the minutes that she played. She left it all out there,” Reeve said. “She found a way to will our team. Just all those hustle plays. Offensively, she really helped us. She was just bringing it tonight.

“It was vintage Lindsay Whalen and it was really cool that it happened at the Barn.”

Up Next

The Lynx and Mystics will head to the nation’s capital for Game 3, tipping off at 2 p.m. (CT) on Sunday at Capital One Arena. The game will be aired on ESPN, 106.1 BOB FM and TuneIn Radio.