San Antonio Stars head coach Dan Hughes wanted to see a ‘championship effort’ with his team trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter. What happened next gave San Antonio a chance to show what they can do and it put a scare into the defending champions.
Kayla McBride scored a team-high 20 points, but it was not enough as the Stars suffered an 88-84 loss to the Minnesota Lynx in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinals series in front of 8,525 fans inside the Target Center on Thursday night.
Becky Hammon added 17 points, including 14 in the second half. Sophia Young-Malcolm chipped in 16 and Danielle Adams had 12 for San Antonio, who lost their 13th straight game in Minnesota.
”She wants to keep playing in a big way,” Stars head coach Dan Hughes said of Hammon’s performance. ”I’ve had a ringside seat for about 50 of those, so that didn’t totally surprise me.”
Minnesota led 70-55 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and Hughes called timeout. In the huddle gave his the ‘championship effort’ speech to spark his team. What resulted was an 18-2 Stars run to give them a 73-72 lead late in the game.
Two free throws from WNBA MVP Maya Moore with 1.9 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Lynx.
Minnesota was led by Moore’s 24 points and Seimone Augustus added 16 for the Lynx, who are just a win away from the Western Conference Finals.
”I was happy for a large part of the game, then something bad happened. Up 70-55 we kind of had them right where we wanted and then the bottom fell out defensively,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, crediting Augustus, who has battled knee problems this season, for righting the ship. ”Mone was big. Those last three baskets were huge for us.”
The difference in the game was rebounds and turnovers. San Antonio committed 15 turnovers, up from their 12.2 season average and were out-rebounded on the offensive end 13-7.
The Stars trail the best-of-three series 0-1 and will return to the court on Saturday when they welcome the Lynx to the AT&T Center for Game 2 at 6 p.m.
(Quotes via WNBA.com)