With three minutes to go in the third quarter of Minnesota’s matchup against Seattle on Friday night, Lynx forward Maya Moore jumped high for a lob pass underneath the Storm basket.
Somewhere in the crowded scrum, Moore collided with a Storm player and fell to the floor. While she lay motionless and the Storm player walked away unharmed, Moore was called for an offensive foul.
“I don’t really have an explanation for it other than that was the call,” Moore said. “ … But you’ve got to play through it. Things are going to happen in ballgames. Calls are going to be made that you don’t like. It’s how you respond.”
Respond she did. And so did her team.
The play sparked an 11-2 run to end the third quarter, and the Lynx cruised to an 82-57 victory over the Storm at the Target Center. After leading by just one at halftime, the Lynx outscored the Storm 25-10 in the third quarter, separating themselves from the Western Conference bottom feeder.
Moore led all players with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Lindsay Whalen added 16 points, and Seimone Augustus 15. Both Whalen and Augusus had four assists also.
“Any time I get hit or something, it just naturally gets my juices flowing,” Moore said. “I try to use every opportunity of adversity to fuel me to be better for my team.”
On the Lynx’s next offensive possession after Moore’s offensive foul, the forward came down the court with a full head of steam and banked in a layup to extend the Lynx lead to nine.
Moments later, she grabbed a defensive rebound and found Augustus, who fed Devereaux Peters for an open layup.
Just eight days ago in Seattle, the Lynx allowed 51 first-half points and late in the second quarter trailed the Storm by 18 points. But in the Lynx’s third-largest comeback victory in team history, they played stout second-half defense and won by three.
On Friday, the Lynx (8-2) knew they had to force the Storm (3-8) off the three-point line. Seattle shot 3-for-6 from behind the arc in the first quarter, but the Lynx held the Storm to just 5-for-18 for the game, and none in the second half.
“That’s just picking up our defensive intensity, getting some deflections, trying to make them take tough shots, staying in plays and then rebounding and running,” Moore said. “When our defense is locked in, our offense is much, much better.”
Standing at half-court before Friday’s game, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said that she didn’t think her team played such bad first-half defense against the Storm two weeks ago. It was just a step behind Seattle.
On Friday, the Lynx were a step in front instead, and ran away with the victory.
“A really good second half for us,” Reeve said. “[Seattle] had, I think it was 14 [second-half] points, with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“I think we just kind of wore them down and we had a bounce in our step on offense.”