SAN ANTONIO – The Lynx got a lot done on Sunday. They clinched another Western Conference championship, and more important they secured the No. 1 overall seed for the WNBA playoffs.
An 81-76 victory over the San Antonio Stars combined with the Los Angeles Sparks’ 78-60 loss to the Seattle Storm gave the Lynx (26-5) their fifth conference title in franchise history — all coming in the past six years. They beat out the Sparks (24-8) for the league’s best record, meaning they will have home-court advantage for as long as they last in the postseason, which begins next week. After byes in Rounds 1 and 2, they will begin defense of their league championship in a best-of-five semifinal series.
By winning their 26th game, the Lynx tied the 2013 team for the second-most wins in franchise history. They can break the record of 27 (achieved in 2011 and 2012) with at least two wins in their final three games — road games against Chicago and Indiana and a home finale against Atlanta.
Sunday’s game was a worst-vs.-first matchup, but it didn’t play out like that. The Stars (6-25) led 76-75 with a minute and a half left in the fourth quarter before the Lynx scored the game’s final six points.
Seimone Augustus put the Lynx ahead for good with 45 seconds left on a jumper from the right wing and then made two free throws to extend the lead to 79-76 with 23.2 seconds left. Rebekkah Brunson iced it with two more free throws.
“It’s what we say all the time. There are 12 teams in this league, and they’re all good,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “The separation in talent is not that much. We have experience, and I think in games like this it might get you separation, but it’s what we say all the time that no ‘W’ in this league is easy.”
The Lynx have won five straight since losing their first game after the Olympic break. They also have won 11 of their past 12.
Augustus led the Lynx with 20 points, and Maya Moore — playing in her 200th WNBA game — had 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
The Lynx attempted a season-high 37 free throws, making 28. They attempted only five three-point shots.
Moriah Jefferson had 26 points and eight assists for the Stars, who never trailed by more than 10 points. They have lost 24 of their past 27 meetings with the Lynx.
“It was very close, very intense,” Moore said. “Both teams just worked so hard for the whole game. It just came down to getting stops and scores.”