Sunday was certainly a day to remember for Layshia Clarendon.
On Sunday morning, the Minnesota Lynx announced the veteran guard officially signed with the team after being waived by the New York Liberty at the beginning of the year. Later Sunday night, Clarendon joined the Lynx on the court at Target Center for the first time to take on the Connecticut Sun and helped lift the Lynx to their first victory of the season, ending a winless 0-4 start to improve to 1-4 overall on the year.
Clarendon played a significant role off the bench and was a huge factor in Minnesota coming away with a 79-74 overtime win against a Connecticut team that entered the game with the best record in the WNBA.
Not only did Clarendon finish with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, and a plus/minus of plus-11 in 26.5 minutes of action, but the veteran guard provided multiple clutch shots down the stretch – including a near game-winner at the end of regulation that didn’t count – giving Minnesota the edge in a game for the first time this summer.
“This is what I bring, I bring a lot of intangibles to the court that don’t always show up in the stat sheet. Being that poised, veteran leader out there on the court, getting us into our offense and being that calming presence,” Clarendon said after Sunday’s game. “I just really wanted to be what I can be for this team.”
While serving as the backup point guard behind starter Crystal Dangerfield, Clarendon had just one shootaround with the Lynx and stepped up when called upon even without having a full grasp of Minnesota’s playbook.
“(Layshia) didn’t know anything we were doing or what we were running,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “She’s a vet. That’s what you hope for and that’s why you bring her in here. We needed that.”
At the end of the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Lynx erased a late-game deficit to tie it up with seconds remaining at Target Center. As time expired in the fourth quarter, Clarendon rose to the occasion, hitting what appeared to be a game-winning three at the buzzer — only to find out the shot wasn’t off in time.
“(Layshia) did a great job. I think it was exactly what we needed,” Napheesa Collier said of Clarendon’s performance. “That buzzer-beater counted in our hearts. That was awesome.”
Clarendon carried that momentum into the extra frame, burying a big three to put the Lynx ahead with just over a minute remaining in overtime. It ended up being enough for Minnesota to come out on top.
“I think it gave us some momentum and some excitement,” Clarendon said. “I think it hyped the crowd and gave us some energy and excitement that we’re not going to lose in overtime in our house. … I didn’t get that game-winning three so I wanted to hit a three in overtime.”
After a rough start to the season, the Lynx hope they have found something to keep their winning ways rolling into June. Minnesota also hopes they have found something with the most recent addition of Clarendon, and so far the veteran guard has impressed.
“Layshia, I think the longer she has to be with us and as she learns some things, she’ll be much better,” Reeve said. “Layshia came in at a tough time. We didn’t have an easy couple of days. … We needed a win and Layshia, no doubt about it, was a big reason why.”