MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Lindsay Whalen scored 20 points Friday to lead the Minnesota Lynx past the San Antonio Silver Stars 66-65 in Game 1 of their WNBA Western Conference semifinal.
Seimone Augustus added 19 points and Rebekkah Brunson grabbed 14 rebounds, while Whalen added five assists and made the game’s biggest defensive play, tipping a Silver Stars inbound pass to Maya Moore with 4 seconds left to seal the victory.
Danielle Adams and Becky Hammon each scored 16 points for San Antonio, which lost all four regular-season games against the Lynx as well.
Jia Perkins and Sophia Young each scored 10 points for the Silver Stars.
The Lynx posted the league’s best regular-season record (27-7) and won the Western Conference by six games, putting them back into the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
And Minnesota’s fans have noticed — the game was played in front a crowd of 11,891, Minnesota’s largest of the season and 7,000 more fans than attended Minnesota’s last home playoff game.
Minnesota showed some playoff jitters in a sluggish first quarter, hitting just 2 of its first 12 shots as the Silver Stars led by as much as eight.
Whalen helped close the gap with a steal and fastbreak layup and a nice feed to Augustus for a basket to tie it at 19, but Hammon responded with 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to keep the Silver Stars on top.
A long 3 by Perkins stretched the San Antonio lead back to five just before halftime, and the Silver Stars led by three at the break.
Game 2 will be Sunday afternoon in San Antonio, where the Lynx can close out the first playoff series victory in franchise history.
Minnesota swept the season series with San Antonio 4-0, winning the first two on buzzer-beaters, then pulling away for double-digit victories in back-to-back games in late August.
The Lynx also went 13-4 on the road, by far the best road mark in the league.
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