In what turned out to be a real nail-biter at the end, the Lynx, who had as much as a 12 point lead in the fourth quarter, survived a few shoddy late possessions, some unfortunate officiating, and three potential game-tying shots by the Sky in the final seconds to hold on for an 83-81 win, moving to 2-1 on the young season.
It was a close game throughout, but the Lynx made what appeared to be the decisive move over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, led by Napheesa Collier who dominated the offensive glass and scored several put-backs. They stretched their lead to 12 points, and looked to be in control.
But the Sky finally found their three point stroke and fought their way back into it late, getting within one possession with under a minute left when Diamond DeShields stole the ball from Shenise Johnson and scored uncontested. It appeared to be a clear foul on the steal attempt, but the officials did not call it, setting up a frantic final minute.
Collier made a pair of free throws, followed by an Allie Quigley three that brough the Sky within two with 38 seconds left, and would turn out to be the last points scored in the game. After an empty possession for the Lynx, the Sky wound up with multiple opportunities around the basket in the final seconds, but could not convert, and the Lynx escaped with their second win of the season.
It’s becoming fairly clear how the Lynx are going to have to win games this season: Get points from their front court three of Collier, Sylvia Fowles, and Damiris Dantas, and win with defense. They lack the perimeter punch to outscore teams, and must limit their turnovers to be successful. The lack of scoring and play making chops from the back court was predictable, and they will likely have to work around that all season.
While the Lynx defended fairly well tonight, they were also fortunate that the Sky had a poor shooting game by their standards, making only six of 24 three point attempts. Allie Quigley and Gabby Williams combined to go 1-14 from beyond the arc, not something one expects to see very often.
Once again Collier was the story, exploding in the fourth quarter for the second time in three games. She finished with 20 points, 10 boards, and four assists. It’s also worth noting that Rachel Banham had a bit of a break out game, with 13 points on 5-6 shooting including a couple of big fourth quarter hoops. She is clearly limited by her lack of quickness, but it would be nice if she could provide some consistent bench scoring this season.
Rookie Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan also contributed off the bench, finishing with eight points and three boards in 17 minutes. She looked comfortable out there for only her second appearance.
For the Lynx, another nice win over a solid opponent. Next up is another game against the Connecticut Sun, who they beat in their season opener. That’s scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Let’s hit some notes:
- Sylvia Fowles, who set the all-time rebounding record in their last game, was in foul trouble for much of this one, and finished with 10 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. She was the victim of some tough whistles.
- They starting front court combined for 44 points and shot 17-27 from the field. The starting back court scored 18, but shot a disastrous 5-24.
- For the Sky, this was their first loss after 2 wins to start the year.