The remnants of Maya Moore’s halftime feast lay on the floor around her locker: a banana peel, an energy bar wrapper, a sports drink bottle.
“I needed to find some extra energy,’’ the Lynx forward said. “I tried to eat as much as I could because I was feeling a little out of it, and I knew it was going to be a long game.’’
With one hunger satisfied, Moore promptly took care of another. Her 24 second-half points jolted the slow-starting Lynx out of a funk Tuesday night, powering them to an 83-76 victory over San Antonio at Target Center.
Against a team that had not won a road game all season, the Lynx created what coach Cheryl Reeve called “a five-alarm fire’’ in the first half, only to douse it with Moore’s hot hand and lock up a spot in the WNBA playoffs.
The Stars — now 0-12 on the road this season and in their past dozen games at Target Center — led the lackluster Lynx by 11 points at halftime. Moore feasted on San Antonio in the third quarter, scoring 12 of her game-high 32 points. That fueled a 14-2 run as the Lynx surged to their 17th victory this season and earned a fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs.
“You just have to keep going, always believing the next play is going to start a run in our favor,’’ said Moore, who also had a team-high nine rebounds and made all 10 of her free-throw attempts. “It just takes a couple of possessions to get the things we’re trying to get, and we’re off to the races.’’
The Stars can vouch for that. They fell to 0-3 against the Lynx this season after leading for most of the first 27 minutes, when the Lynx failed to assert themselves on offense or defense. Hot-shooting Kayla McBride and Danielle Adams combined for 25 first-half points to put the Lynx in a 46-35 hole at halftime.
Reeve said she kept her message at intermission to the point. She didn’t see any urgency or initiative from her players in the first half, as the Stars clogged up the middle, deflected loads of passes and forced seven turnovers.
“We needed to do everything a little bit harder, a little bit better,’’ she said. “I thought we came out with greater focus and intensity in the second half and kind of chipped away at it.’’
Moore wielded the biggest hammer, with Lindsay Whalen helping her chisel the Stars’ lead. As the Stars began to wilt under a tighter Lynx defense, Moore stole the ball, passed to Whalen and then drove to the hoop, catching Whalen’s alley-oop pass with one hand and flicking in a layup to cut the deficit to 52-51.
By the time the quarter ended, the Lynx had outscored San Antonio 30-13 and seized a lead they would not relinquish. Whalen finished with nine assists and became the third WNBA player to reach 2,000 career assists.
Notes: Guard Seimone Augustus sat out her 10th consecutive game since having arthroscopic knee surgery on July 17, but Reeve said she could be back in the lineup for Friday’s game at Atlanta. … The Lynx signed former Gophers forward Shae Kelley for the rest of the season.