You can toss out the fourth quarter. The Lynx’s game with WNBA-leading Connecticut was long over by the time the final 10 minutes began counting down. It was garbage time.
So, the first three quarters?
It was, simply, about as good as the Lynx can play. On defense, they were both stifling and larcenous. On offense, they were both efficient and opportunistic.
The result: an 89-57 victory over the Sun, tied for the fifth-largest win in team history, against a team that had won seven consecutive games coming in.
Don’t let Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve fool you. In a rivalry that has, of late, become rather heated, the Lynx (12-11) have stopped two Sun streaks this season. Their victory on July 6 ended Connecticut’s 14-game home winning streak.
Call it icing.
Playing before an announced 8,892 at Target Center, the Lynx matched a season high in three-pointers made (nine) and had a season-best 27 assists. Their 53.7% shooting percentage was a season high while Connecticut’s 30.9% was a season low by a Lynx opponent. Minnesota scored 28 points off 20 turnovers.
“Obviously the best game of the season through three quarters,’’ Reeve said. “We took care of the ball, we turned them over, we were difficult to play against in most situations, we shared the ball, identified who was open.”
Which is why the Lynx led by as many as 38 points. Why four of five starters and two reserves scored in double figures.
Sylvia Fowles had 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Both Danielle Robinson and Stephanie Talbot scored 14 points off the bench. Odyssey Sims, making her second start at point guard with Seimone Augustus back in the starting lineup, had 12 points and nine assists through three quarters. Damiris Dantas had 11 points; she and Talbot shot a combined 6-for-8 on three-pointers.
Connecticut? The Sun (16-7) fell into a tie for first in the WNBA with Washington, and only one Sun player — Bria Holmes off the bench — scored in double figures. Sun center Jonquel Jones was held to fewer than 10 points for just the second time this season, both against the Lynx.
For the Lynx, who have won two in a row, it gives them a boost as they continue a difficult stretch of four road games in their next five, starting Sunday in Washington.
“We have a sense of urgency,” Fowles said. “And an awareness of what we can do when we put our minds together and play like a group. At this point we don’t have anything to lose.”
The Lynx led 19-14 late in the first quarter, and from then until the end of the half they outscored the Sun 35-11. In the second quarter alone the Sun had as many points (11) as turnovers and made only two field goals.
In her second game back Augustus played just 11½ minutes. But her return as a starter has made Robinson an effective weapon off the bench. Reeve speculated that, as a bench player, Robinson isn’t getting scouted as hard.
In the past two games, both wins, Robinson has come off the bench to score 23 points with nine assists and seven rebounds. Having Talbot and Lexie Brown’s three-point threats on the court with her has opened up the lane for Robinson to drive.
“Coach is just a genius, I guess,” Robinson said. “But no, whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do that. Me coming off the bench, being that spark, that energy? Our bench group has done a good job the last two games.”