Lynx suffer first loss in overtime battle with undefeated Sun

24 May 2024

For the second straight game, the Minnesota Lynx played free basketball.

This time it only took one extra session. And the result went the wrong way.

DeWanna Bonner made two free throws with 7.4 seconds left, Kayla McBride missed a game-winning jumper with 1.4 ticks to go, and the Lynx fell 83-82 to the Sun on Thursday in Uncasville, Connecticut.

“We battled. We did enough to win the game. It just didn’t happen,” said coach Cheryl Reeve.

Minnesota beat Seattle 102-93 in double overtime in its home opener last Friday.

The Lynx had five days between games after that victory. This one comes in the first of three games in four days in three cities. The Lynx (2-1) are home to New York on Saturday at noon and in Atlanta on Sunday.

Napheesa Collier led Minnesota with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

But it’s the points she left on the court that eat at her. Collier made five of nine free-throw attempts. Two misses came in the extra five minutes.

”I would have made my free throws we wouldn’t have gone to overtime; when we went to overtime we could have won the game,” she said. “… When you miss free easy baskets like that that cost you the game I just take a lot of that responsibility.”

Courtney Williams, who finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists, quickly pointed out it’s a team game. “There’s so many plays that transpired where we could have went on a run and it wouldn’t have come down a free throw. That’s all our responsibility. We got to make those plays, not just all fall on Phee.”

McBride drained one from the right elbow with 13.6 seconds left for an 82-81 Lynx lead, but Bonner, who led the Sun (4-0) — the WNBA’s last unbeaten team — with 20 points, was fouled and made both.

For the Lynx, protecting the paint was a defensive focus because Connecticut thrives inside where its 40 points per game were third-best in the WNBA entering the contest. The Lynx have allowed an average of 44 inside points in their first three games.

“It’s what we expected when we came here. The 46 points in the paint is just really difficult when you know that’s a team’s identity,” Reeve said. “It is hard to stop them from getting there, but that’s what we’re going to point to, that we’ve got to do better there.”

Brionna Jones had 19 points for Connecticut, and Alyssa Thomas added 18.

“They’re strong. Their entire game is in the paint. … Almost all of their players want to be in there so it makes it a pretty tough assignment,” Collier said.

Williams scored on a drive for a five-point lead with 1:41 left in overtime, but a putback by Thomas got the Sun within three. A fadeaway from Collier got stuck between the rim and backboard, Connecticut won the subsequent jump ball, and Rachel Banham made a 3-pointer for the Sun.

Banham, the former Gophers star who played the past four seasons for the Lynx, finished with six points and five rebounds.

“They made tough shots. I thought our defense was really good. Rachel came off a contested three, AT contested turnaround midrange,” Collier said.

Collier had four points in a 12-2 run that included triples from Bridget Carleton and McBride and a Williams jumper for a four-point lead at 67-63 midway through the fourth quarter.

Lynx starting forward Diamond Miller missed the second half with a right knee issue. Reeve had no postgame update. Miller had offseason surgery to repair the meniscus in her left knee.

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