Two of the WNBA’s grittiest teams will clash on Saturday when the New York Liberty visit the Minnesota Lynx in Minneapolis.
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New York (26-7) has just one full day to catch its breath after racing back from a 20-point second-half deficit to stun the Connecticut Sun 95-90 in overtime on Thursday in Uncasville, Conn.
The Liberty trailed 59-39 midway through the third quarter and were still down by four with less than 10 seconds left in regulation before things got chaotic.
After Breanna Stewart’s second-chance layup shaved the deficit to 82-80 with 4.1 seconds to play, Connecticut mishandled the subsequent inbounds pass. A scurrying Courtney Vandersloot shoveled the loose ball to Sabrina Ionescu, who was fouled on her 3-point attempt with 1.1 seconds left.
Ionescu drained the first two free throws but missed the third, sending the game to overtime tied at 82-82.
Stewart, who earlier in the game set the Liberty franchise record with her 732nd point this season, scored the first five points of the extra period to help New York polish off its third comeback victory of at least 15 points this season.
“It proves that when we stay together, we can accomplish anything,” forward Jonquel Jones said of the Liberty’s rally. “Some games are tough, some we make tough ourselves. But it’s our poise. When we stay together, we get it done.”
Jones bundled 21 points with 14 rebounds in the win, while Stewart finished with 24 points, giving her 747 on the year.
The Lynx (17-17) enter Saturday’s contest looking to tighten their grip on a playoff spot after sweeping a two-game home-and-home series against the Dallas Wings this week.
Minnesota outlasted Dallas 91-86 at home on Tuesday and followed up with a 90-81 victory on Thursday in Texas, although forward Napheesa Collier felt the Lynx overcame multiple opponents in the latter meeting.
“I don’t talk about this often, but the officiating was awful,” Collier told reporters after her 25-point game. “It was great as a team to fight through adversity despite those two refs. … It’s really frustrating when it’s not consistent on both ends.”
Fighting through adversity is nothing new for Minnesota, which has sole possession of the fifth playoff seed entering play Friday after beginning the season 0-6. A win on Saturday would push the Lynx above .500 for the first time this season.
—Field Level Media