The question is, does Washington coach Mike Thibault have the secret, the plan, the way to beat the Minnesota Lynx?
The Mystics came to Target Center on Thursday, started the game strong and finished with a 79-75 victory that ended the Lynx’s winning streak at 10 games. So does Thibault know something?
Consider: Two teams have defeated the Lynx (17-4) this season. Both have done it twice. One of them is Washington (10-13), which came to the cities with a four-game losing streak and ended up stopping the Lynx’s home regular-season winning streak at 18. The last time the Lynx lost at home was to Connecticut on July 7, 2012. And guess who coached that team? Thibault.
Still, the Lynx insisted, this was their fault.
Minnesota allowed too many open shots on defense while forcing up contested shots.
Maya Moore had 24 points for the Lynx, Lindsay Whalen 19 and Seimone Augustus 18, including a tying three-pointer with 36.4 seconds left.
But the Lynx never really could stop the Mystics. Ivory Latta hit her first eight shots on the way to 24 points. Monique Currie added 20. Matee Ajavon had 18, the final two on a driving layup with 21.3 seconds left that gave Washington the lead for good.
“It’s disappointing, not only to lose the game but to get destroyed on the glass,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after her team was outrebounded 44-24, the most rebounds allowed all season by Minnesota.
The Lynx were without center Janel McCarville, who sustained a concussion early in Minnesota’s victory at San Antonio on Tuesday. She is listed as day-to-day. Amber Harris started in McCarville’s place. She and Devereaux Peters combined for zero points and five rebounds in 23 minutes.
“We were a player down in the post and we did a very, very poor job of filling the void,” Reeve said. “And we didn’t learn very much from the first time we played Washington down there. We continued to take hard, contested shots.”
Thibault was the more satisfied coach.
“We played with desperation,” Thibault said. “If we can play with that kind of energy and effort at both ends every night we might have a little bit better record.”
The Lynx, meanwhile, vowed not to let this happen again. “They made big shots, big plays when they had to,” said Whalen, who had five turnovers, the biggest perhaps being letting Currie pick her and drive for a basket with the score tied at 65, sparking a 6-0 Mystics run. “We made some poor plays at times, starting with myself.”