UNCASVILLE, CONN. – The Lynx on Friday night returned to action following a month-long WNBA break for the Olympics. They have work to do before the home schedule resumes Sunday.
Jasmine Thomas hit a go-ahead baseline jumper with 51.2 seconds left and Connecticut beat the Lynx for the second time this season, 84-80 at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday night.
"They played hard," Lynx star and former University of Connecticut standout Maya Moore said of the Sun, one of the WNBA's worst teams at 9-16 and last in the Eastern Conference. "They played their game plan harder and executed it better. They are really good when it comes to trying to getting steals and converting that to easy points and getting offensive boards and turning that into points and fouls.
"That is just a matter of us having to get in the paint and fight it out down there. We didn't get done what we needed to finish the game."
The Lynx had four players on the U.S. Olympic championship roster — Moore, Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen all returned from Rio de Janeiro on Monday with gold medals. And coach Cheryl Reeve was an assistant to U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma. Friday also was their first game of the season with Anna Cruz, who played for Spain's silver medalists.
The star power didn't help against the Sun, which used a 17-2 run in the second quarter to take a 53-44 lead at halftime. That's the most points the Lynx have given up in the first half this season.
But the Lynx outscored Connecticut 22-12 in the third quarter and took a one-point lead heading into the fourth, and they scored the first four points of the fourth quarter for a 70-65 lead. That comeback was largely driven by the efforts of Lynx reserves.
Asked if she was trying to limit the Olympians' minutes, Reeve said: "I had zero thought about that. I was just trying to win the game."
She wished she had stuck with the hot hands.
"The bench was great. That was my bad, I should have left them out there," she said. "It's very hard for me to leave players like Maya and Lindsay on the bench when they have done what they have through the years. I made a bad call there. The group that was in there hooping for us should have stayed in game."
Instead, Connecticut went ahead 80-76 with 3:39 to play, before a layup by Fowles pulled the Lynx within two and a turnaround jumper by Augustus with 1:04 to play tied the score at 80-80.
After a Sun timeout, Thomas hit her go-ahead jumper. Moore then missed a three-pointer at the other end, and after a missed jumper by the Sun, Connecticut's Chiney Ogwumike grabbed an offensive rebound to keep the ball away from the Lynx.
Down 83-80, the Lynx had one more possession, but Whalen lost the ball out of bounds, her sixth turnover of the game.
"They played hard, and there are a lot of little things that we needed to do that we didn't get done," Whalen said.