In a perfect world, the defense exhibited by the San Antonio Silver Stars Thursday night against the Minnesota Lynx at Target Center would have meant a Stars victory.
Rookie forward Maya Moore failed to score, missing all seven of her shots. Guards Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, among the league's top guards in field goal percentage, were a combined 6-of-26 from the floor. Minnesota converted 27.5 percent of their shots for the game.
Somehow, the Lynx found themselves on the winning end of a 62-60 game against the Silver Stars, as center Taj McWilliams-Franklin banked the game-winning 18-foot jumper with 1.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Not a bad time for Whalen to pick up her sixth and final assist of the game.
"I'm so slow, I was wide open. Everybody else went to Lindsay when she drove baseline. I'm sure she saw me, but it tipped Rebekkah (Brunson's) hand and it came straight to me," McWilliams-Franklin said.
The game-winner gave McWilliams-Franklin a season-high 18 points, marking her sixth straight game in double-figures. Reaching that score required some coaxing after McWilliams-Franklin committed five first quarter turnovers.
"All those turnovers in the first quarter? I was told to shoot. Rather than get in trouble and get yelled at, I'd rather shoot it," she said.
The Silver Stars (11-8) were unable to capitalize on the Lynx's (15-4) shooting struggles, making 38 percent of their shots. San Antonio never led by more than eight, and let a 23-17 halftime lead slip in the third, when Minnesota scored 26 points in the quarter.
Silver Stars guard Jia Perkins helped keep the game close, scoring all 11 of her points in the fourth, including three free throws after being fouled by Augustus with 11.2 seconds left.
San Antonio did have one last chance with an in-bound from half-court following a timeout call, but Moore disrupted a Perkins three-point attempt as the buzzer sounded.
"This is two great teams going at each other's heads. We got to put this in the back of our memory zone and get ready for Tulsa," Perkins said.
For San Antonio, Sophia Young finished with a double-double, getting 18 points and 13 rebounds while Becky Hammon added 15 points.
"Losing games like this is almost deflating. There's two good teams going at each other. You can tell, because it's coming down to the last-second shot," Young said.
Backup guard Candice Wiggins pitched in for Minnesota, scoring 15 points on five-three pointers. All but one of Wiggins' field goals in the last four games are from beyond the arc. The habit is hard to give up when she first grew confident with three-pointers at age eight.
"Strategically, we were down in that game, so I was like 'let's get some three-balls going,' " Wiggins said.
The Lynx did edge the Silver Stars in free throws, sinking 19 of 24 to the Silver Stars' 12 of 16. Minnesota also won the turnover category, committing 10 while forcing 15 against San Antonio.
Including Whalen's buzzer-beater to cap a 70-69 win at San Antonio Sunday, Minnesota has won the first two meetings of the series by a combined 2.8 seconds.
"You can't say this is what we meant to do. Thank goodness luck had a little choice in it for us," McWilliams-Franklin said.
Minnesota's victory increased their franchise-record winning streak to eight games. They now hold a commanding 4-game lead in the Western Conference, as San Antonio's loss created a three-way tie for second place with Phoenix and Seattle.
Watch this video for Mike Peden's pregame chat with San Antonio's Tully Bevilaqua
Click play here for Mike Peden's one-on-one with Becky Hammon, named among the WNBA's top 15 players of all time at this year's All-Star Game.