Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lynx shade Sun with third quarter run


WNBA fans and pundits considered the Minnesota Lynx the best three-quarter team in basketball last season, as their leads would usually only last to that point.

After the Lynx darkened the Connecticut Sun with a 90-67 win Saturday night at Target Center, the Lynx may be called the best third quarter team in the WNBA as they tied San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference.

Minnesota (7-3) outscored Connecticut (6-4) 23-6 in the third stanza as Connecticut made only two of 18 shots in the period. The Sun's shooting woes allowed the Lynx to blow open a 44-43 halftime lead and ride in cruise control for the rest of the game.

"Their defensive pressure in the second half was way better than the first and way better than ours," said Sun head coach Mike Thibault.

"When we play defense like that, it really sparked our offense," said Lynx rookie forward Maya Moore.

Proof was evident in field goal shooting, as Minnesota made 49 percent of their shots to Connecticut's 35 percent. Moore herself was electric, setting a new career high in scoring with 26 points on 9-of-14 from the floor, draining six of nine three-point attempts.

Even more impressive is who she compiled the stat line against, playing against several former UConn teammates for the first time since collegiate intra-squad practices. They include last year's first overall draft pick Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, and former Lynx guard Renee Montgomery.

"It forced me to focus because I know how talented they are," Moore said.

"Once you play with somebody so long, you know what shots are going to go in and what aren't. If you leave her open, they're going in," Montgomery said.

As Moore was tearing through her former college teammates, forward Rebekkah Brunson notched her seventh double-double of the season in her first game since being named Western Conference Player of the Month in June, getting 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Although Brunson's accolades attract growing national attention, with ESPN broadcaster Carolyn Peck campaigning to get Brunson in this year's All-Star Game on a televised game Tuesday, stats are still simply numbers for the Washington, D.C. native.

"I'm just going for some more wins. (If) we keep winning, I'm happy," Brunson joked with reporters.

Lynx guard Seimone Augustus added 20 points, hitting eight of her 15 shot attempts.

As Minnesota's chemistry and offensive production grow, so does the evidence suggesting their era of recent futility is shrinking.

"You can't double team anybody, and as soon as you give anybody an open look, it turns into points," said Sun forward Ashja Jones.

Montgomery led Connecticut in scoring with 14 points, with Jones adding 13 and reserve forward Kelsey Griffin chipping in 12.

Minnesota will get some regularity for the remainder of their schedule, as they no longer have any gaps of one week or more in between games. That also means fewer days of practice and less time to restore energy, but the transition is little concern for the Lynx.

"You don't have time to be tired, you just have to keep fighting," Moore said.

The youth demographic will get their chance to see Minnesota on Wednesday, when they host the Phoenix Mercury for their annual "Kiddie Day" promotion.

Click the player below to listen to WNBA President Laurel Richie's conversation with reporters prior to Saturday's game

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