Strong second half run carries Lynx past Liberty

Together as coaches they combine for eight championships, two of which were won together while working for the Detroit Shock. But on Thursday, it was Cheryl Reeve and the Minnesota Lynx doing the one upping, as Minnesota defeated Bill Laimbeer’s Liberty, 90-71.

“We were very engaged today,” Reeve said. “We knew how New York felt about the game, what they were looking to do, and we responded to that and had great energy from start to finish.”

Maya Moore led the way for the 2-0 Lynx, notching the 29th double-double of her career with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen each finished with 12 points, while Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson rounded out Minnesota’s double-digit scorers, each tallying 11.

Following a back-and-forth opening half, the Lynx took a three-point lead into the halftime intermission. That lead soon disappeared as the Liberty went on to score the next five points, unanswered, taking control of the game with a 45-43 advantage.

Minnesota then proceeded to go on a run of their own. Lindsay Whalen’s jump shot at the eight-minute mark initiated an 8-0 Lynx scoring run, with Minnesota eventually stretching that into a 17-2 run as the scoreboard read 60-47.

New York attempted a small comeback late in the game, but they were only able to narrow to deficit to seven points as the Lynx proved to be too much.

Moore said defense was the key to the win.

“We just had to get stops,” she said. “We try to make it hard for them to run their offense and we had to rebound the ball. When we share the ball like we did, we’re going to get some good stuff.”

Moore said Minnesota improved from their first game last weekend to their second.

“Once we put some stops together in the fourth quarter, we were able to defend the lead,” she said. “We played with great poise and we were able to open up the lead at the end.”

Thursday marked yet another time Minnesota was able to hold their opponent to under 40 percent from the field. Laimbeer blamed his team’s poor offensive execution.

“We didn’t run our plays the way we’d been working on all week in practice,” he said. “We have to be more disciplined and we weren’t tonight. And against a good team, you have to execute every time or you’re going to get beat.”

Intensity wasn’t the only thing New York lost Thursday, as Brittany Boyd suffered an Achilles injury midway through the fourth quarter. Laimbeer said he will have more information regarding the injury on Friday, following an MRI.

The Liberty’s offensive effort was led by Sugar Rodgers, who scored a game-high 20 points. However, all but one came in the first half of play, adding to New York’s second half woes. Rodgers’ double-digit output was accompanied by Boyd, who despite leaving late into the contest still managed to record 16.

“They just outplayed us tonight,” Rodgers said. “We didn’t do the little things like defending, rebounding, just going out there and having fun.  We know they’re a great team.  We’re trying to get on that level.  We’ll take everything from this game and go into practice and say ‘this is what we have to do.’  We’re holding people accountable across the board.”

The Lynx continue their two-game road trip Saturday as they visit Skylar Diggins-Smith and the Dallas Wings. The Liberty will embark on a road trip of their own, paying a visit to Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday.