Seconds were winding down as Seattle guard Sami Whitcomb dribbled into the lane and shot.
Defended well, she missed. But Alysha Clark barged into the lane, got the rebound and put it back in as the horn sounded.
Just one more play.
The Lynx went toe-to-toe Tuesday with a Seattle Storm team that beat them like a drum in two regular-season games. In the first game of a best-of-five WNBA semifinal series, they defended. They scored. They took care of the ball. Perhaps most impressively, they countered every Seattle run with one of their own.
But, in an 88-86 loss at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., they needed one more play to reach overtime.
“We felt we played well,’’ Lynx forward Napheesa Collier said. “We just have to finish with that rebound.’’
Collier, for one, played very well. Aggressive from the start, she scored 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting. She made four of five three-pointers, had six blocks. She stared down Seattle star Breanna Stewart, at one point blocking her shot three straight times.
In a thrilling fourth quarter in which the Lynx were both down 10 and up two, she scored 11 points with five blocks — tying a league playoffs record for a quarter. Her basket in the post with 14.8 seconds left tied the game at 86.
But: One more play.
This series was supposed to start Sunday, but was postponed when three Seattle players had inconclusive COVID-19 tests. It wasn’t until late Tuesday afternoon that the third of those three players was cleared to play.
The Lynx were ready, and it showed.
“Our energy, our will to play,’’ said Odyssey Sims, who scored 19 points with five assists. “It was there today. We did everything right. We just have to finish it out. Grab the rebound. Do whatever we have to do to get it done.’’
After the way the two regular-season games went, some might have expected this series to not be competitive. The Lynx allowed the Storm to turn 48 turnovers into 56 points in those two games. Tuesday the Lynx had just 10 turnovers. They made 14 three-pointers to Seattle’s 13, and matched the Storm on the break.
Seattle had all five starters score in double figures, led by Jewell Loyd’s 25 and Stewart with 21. The Lynx had four, led by Collier, Sims and Bridget Carleton (14). The one exception was rookie guard Crystal Dangerfield, who struggled with Seattle’s trapping, pressure defense. She scored four points on 2-for-8 shooting.
But the bottom line is Minnesota came up one play short.
Down nine early in the fourth, the Lynx fought back, opening the quarter on a 16-5 run to take a 79-77 lead.
Sue Bird hit a three-pointer seconds later, but Sims drove for a score.
Then, the first of the key plays: Damiris Dantas got a defensive rebound, but Natasha Howard stole the ball, was fouled and made both free throws for a one-point Seattle lead.
Clark’s basket with 1:01 left put Seattle up three, but Dantas hit a three-pointer. Loyd scored with 30.6 seconds left. But Dangerfield fed Collier for a basket.
“It’s what we hoped for,’’ Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We wanted to put ourselves in position, with five minutes to go … [but] Seattle made just one more play.’’
The Star Tribune is not traveling to Florida for WNBA coverage. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews.