NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Seimone Augustus scored 22 points and the defending champion Minnesota Lynx cruised to a 80-62 victory over the New York Liberty on Tuesday night.
Maya Moore had 15 points, Rebekkah Brunson scored 14 and Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Lynx (2-0).
Cappie Pondexter scored 15 points and Essence Carson had 13, and Kia Vaughn grabbed 11 rebounds for the Liberty (0-3).
Minnesota took control with a tiebreaking 17-4 run over the last 5 minutes of the second quarter and into the start of the third.
After trailing 46-33 early in the third quarter, Nicole Powell’s 3 — attempting a pass for an alley-oop that swished in the basket instead — pulled the Liberty within eight with about 7 minutes remaining. However, the Lynx scored the next six points and took a 52-38 lead on Augustus’ free throw for a technical on Powell with 4:48 to go in the period.
The Liberty made a run and cut it to 58-50 on Pondexter’s 3 with 20 seconds left in the third. But the Lynx came back with four points in the final 2 seconds of the quarter. After McWilliams-Franklin made two free throws to give Minnesota a 10-point lead, Plenette Pierson overthrew Leilani Mitchell on a long inbounds pass that went out at the other end of the court without time running down.
On the Lynx’s ensuing inbounds under the Liberty basket, Brunson’s tip went off the backboard and Moore grabbed it and layed it up as the buzzer sounded.
The Liberty didn’t get closer than 10 in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota scored six consecutive points to take a 68-52 lead on Augustus’ jumper with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. Her jumper with just under 2 minutes to go made it 76-56, the Lynx’s biggest lead of the game.
With the score tied at 29 midway through the second quarter, the Lynx went on their big run. Minnesota scored eight consecutive points as Brunson made a jumper to put the Lynx ahead and her layuip made it 37-29 with 2:50 remaining in the period.
Pondexter and Mitchell made baskets about a minute apart to pull New York within four.
However, Minnesota scored the next seven points to take a 44-33 lead at the break. Augustus gave the Lynx their double-digit lead with her layup on a pass from Moore under the basket on a 2-on-1 fastbreak with 22 seconds remaining in the half.
Whalen’s layup extended the lead to 13 less than 30 seconds into the third quarter.