WASHINGTON (AP) — The WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx have shown they can win big while jumping out to an undefeated start. The Lynx’s victory proved they can also survive.
Lindsay Whalen put back her own miss with a second remaining to give Minnesota a 79-77 win over the Washington Mystics on Wednesday night after the Lynx blew a 24-point lead.
Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson led the Lynx (5-0) with 16 points and Seimone Augustus added 15. Minnesota shot 65.6 percent (21 of 32) in the first half and led 59-35 with 6:36 remaining in the third quarter before turnovers and inspired play by the Mystics changed the flow.
The Mystics used a 21-4 run to pull closer at 63-54 late in the third quarter, tied the game at 68 on Matee Ajavon’s jumper with 6:27 remaining and took their first lead at 73-72 on Michelle Snow’s layup with 3:25 left.
After an exchange of baskets, Whalen, who scored all 11 of her points in the second half and the Lynx’ final seven, tied the game at 75 with a free throw. She hit two more with 42.9 seconds left after Minnesota extended a possession with three offensive rebounds.
Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne’s layup with 25 seconds left tied it at 77. Whalen, the Lynx’s point guard, found room on the right corner and attempted a driving runner that missed. After an ensuing rebounding scrum, the ball wound up back in the 5-foot-9 Whalen’s hands near the basket. She did not miss her second chance at the win.
“I figured if I could just get in the lane, something good would happen,” said Whalen, who finished with seven assists but six of the Lynx’s 18 turnovers. “I ended up missing the first one. Somehow the ball came back to me and I was able to get it up high enough to go in.”
Devereaux Peters blocked Mystics center Ashley Robinson’s long jumper at the buzzer as the Lynx extended their franchise-record road-winning streak to seven games.
Ajavon led the Mystics (1-2) with 20 points, 14 coming in the second half.
“We’re going to win the game, that’s what we’re thinking,” said Langhorne, who finished with 12 points. “It was that possession; we couldn’t get a defensive rebound. Then Lindsay has the ball, shoots, gets her own offensive rebound and scores with 1 second left. It’s tough.”
Minnesota matched a franchise record and became the 10th team in WNBA history to open a season with five straight victories. Dating back to last season, the Lynx have won 11 straight and their first four victories this season were by an average of 15.3 points.
The latest win nearly slipped away as the Mystics to shot 56.7 percent (17 of 30) from the field after halftime.
“They were aggressive, they were hitting their shots”,” Moore said. We didn’t do the things we normally do on either end. It was a bad combination, but I’m glad I have great teammates that will step up in the clutch.”
Both teams suffered scoring droughts. Washington held Minnesota without a point for the opening 4:33 of the fourth quarter. That came after the Lynx kept Mystics without a field goal for over seven minutes and 11 seconds during a 24-2 first half run. Minnesota led by 14 points after the first quarter and 51-31 at halftime.
“We were able to get stops and run,” Whalen said. “When the stops stop going, it’s harder to run and get easy baskets.Hopefully we do a better a job playing the whole 40 minutes because today it felt like we played 20 and thought it was over.”
Washington, coming off a win over Tulsa on Saturday, has not won consecutive games since winning their final six regular season games in 2010. Dating back to last season, the Mystics have lost 15 of 17 games.
“We never quit,” Mystics Coach Trudi Lacey said. “In a lot of ways, we simply ran out of time. We didn’t lose the game.
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