Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lynx hold off Storm "surge"


Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said Wednesday's loss to Phoenix would be all the motivation her team needed to respond with authority.

Following a road win against Indiana Friday, Minnesota followed up with a 69-62 home win over the Seattle Storm, even as Seattle controlled the game's tempo. The Lynx (9-4) were held to just six fast break points, but used a 22-2 run through the second and third quarters to build what became an insurmountable lead.

Lynx forward Seimone Augustus started slow, missing her only field goal attempt in the first, but finished with a game-high 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

"Our main thing was to get the ball in the post and let Rebekkah (Brunson) and Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) go to work down there. It started to collapse and they kicked out," Augustus said.

Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen got 13 points and four rebounds, collecting her 1,000th career board in the second quarter. The rebound made Whalen the sixth player in WNBA history to record 2,500 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists.

For Seattle (7-6), Tanisha Wright scored 18 points and Swin Cash put up 16 points and nine rebounds.

Similar to the first meeting of the season between the two teams, Minnesota carried a 47-26 lead following a Maya Moore put-back with 4:49 remaining in the third. Seattle, showing their championship pedigree even with no Lauren Jackson (strained left hip) or Camille Little (attending a wedding), slowly reeled in the margin on a charge led by Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright.

The 7,733 fans at Target Center held their breath when Cash sank a pair of free throws to bring Seattle within six with 1:33 left in the fourth. After trading empty possessions, Brunson provided the game-clinching play, following an 11-foot brick with an offensive rebound with 42 seconds left.

"Even though we do come back, it's a lot of energy, and it's difficult to get over the hump," said Seattle guard Sue Bird.

Whalen finished the job from the free throw line as Seattle's foul-and-chase game proved futile, and Minnesota moved to second place in the Western Conference.

Staying in front after going up big was a chronic issue for the Lynx last season, but Augustus credits spending the last half-hour of each practice simulating close-game scenarios for the team's improvement in defending leads this year.

"It's good to have a coach we understand. We're on the same page," she said.

"We're learning what play calls work for people," Whalen said.

The Lynx also learned this week that Maya Moore will make one more trip to San Antonio than originally planned; Moore was named starting forward for the Western Conference in the upcoming All-Star Game.

As the honor continued to symbolize Moore's popularity with the women's basketball community, the rookie expects to bring a few traveling buddies from the Gopher state.

"There's a good chance a lot of them could join me. I hope as many as possible," she said.


Click here to listen to an interview with Seattle's Katie Smith, who reflects on her storied WNBA career with the league now in season 15.

Click here for Seattle's Sue Bird, who was won two WNBA titles since joining the Storm in 2002.

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