Over the last handful of games, the Minnesota Lynx have struggled with late-game execution and coming away with victories at the end of games.
That resulted in Minnesota coming into Saturday night’s contest at Target Center having lost four straight games, including three in a row in front of its home crowd.
After a full week off and in the final game of a three-game homestand before hitting the road next week, the Lynx were able to end things on a positive note in downtown Minneapolis, holding off the Liberty late to come away with a 92-83 victory.
With the win, the Lynx were able to snap their four-game losing streak and return back to .500 with a 5-5 record.
“Offensively and defensively as a team, we played hard. This was a win that we definitely needed,” Odyssey Sims said after the game. “We let the last couple of games get away from us and we had a week to prepare and we worked hard for this win. It feels good to get a W.”
Minnesota kicked off Saturday night’s game allowing New York to get rolling early, a trend that has occurred far too often for Lynx opponents during the Minnesota’s four-game losing streak.
New York opened the game on a quick 7-2 streak and ended up making five three’s in the first quarter, but a late push from Minnesota narrowed the Liberty lead to 25-24 after the opening frame.
To round out the first half, the Lynx and Liberty put together a back-and-forth second quarter resulting in New York taking a 43-42 lead heading into the break. Sims provided Minnesota with a spark to keep it in the game, scoring 10 of her 20 points in the second quarter.
In the second half, the Lynx came out of the gate firing. Minnesota, led by Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier with 10 points each in the frame, outscored New York 28-14 in the third quarter and led by as many as 14 points heading into the fourth. Those 28 points from the Lynx marked the most points scored in a quarter this season.
In the fourth quarter, where Minnesota has struggled mightily during its losing streak, the Lynx were able to hold off a late New York comeback to ultimately come away with the win. The Liberty were able to narrow the deficit down to five before the Lynx finally pulled away.
Minnesota was led in the game by the trio of Sims, Fowles and Collier. Sims finished with a team-high 20 points and four assists, Fowles tallied a double-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds and three assists and Collier finished with a near double-double of 19 points and a career-high nine rebounds.
The Lynx, who finished shooting 51.6 percent from the field and held a 50-40 advantage in points in the paint, also saw Karima Christmas-Kelly put together her best game of the year off the bench. The wing ended the game with a season-high 12 points in 15 minutes.
After she went off for 26 points in the first meeting of the season between the two teams back on June 12, Kia Nurse once again paced the way for New York, finishing with a team-best 24 points. Tina Charles followed Nurse with 22 points and nine rebounds and Rashanda Gray added 11 points and six rebounds for the Liberty, which shot 46.6 percent from the field.
“It was a strange game, but defensively we were able to do a lot of the things we wanted to do,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “We’re happy to get the W and our offense was pretty good. … That was the difference in the game.”
Minnesota will hit the road for a two-game road trip that kicks off with a game against the Indiana Fever at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Lynx will spend five of their next six games away from Target Center.
“It’s a confidence builder, especially winning at home is really good. Just executing later in the game,” Collier said. “We had some up and down moments, but it’s definitely progress from what we were doing in the past couple of games. We will just try and continue to improve from here.”