LOS ANGELES (AP) — Renee Montgomery’s late 3-pointer helped the Minnesota Lynx stay unbeaten and win the showdown between the top teams in the WNBA.
With the game tied, Lindsay Whalen drove to the basket and found Montgomery open in the corner for the game-winner that lifted the Lynx to a 72-69 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday.
“They ran a really good play,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “The main thing we had today was that we should not let the penetration occur. It was a very good play by the Lynx. We just didn’t play the way we need to play down the stretch. So that’s something that we need to spend time on to improve.”
The Sparks had one last chance, but Kristi Toliver’s shot off an intentionally missed free throw by Candace Parker came just after the buzzer. It would have been a 2-pointer.
“When Candace missed the first free throw, I knew we had to get the 3, so we made eye contact and executed the plan,” Toliver said. “I positioned myself to the left, and it worked out perfectly.
Unfortunately, big toe was on the line, but I am happy that we had a good fight against the Lynx. It was a great game, and competitive game between two best teams of the game, in my opinion. Lynx brought out the best in us, and vice versa.”
The Lynx (13-0), who top the AP power poll, had tied the game at 69 on Sylvia Fowles’ layup with 28 seconds left. They rallied without Maya Moore, who injured her left thigh in the fourth quarter.
Seimone Augustus had 13 points to lead the Lynx.
Toliver scored a season-best 20 points for the Sparks (11-1), who are second in the poll. It was a matinee game that drew over 9,000 fans.
This was the first matchup of two unbeaten teams from the WNBA, NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL with each squad having at least 10 wins with no losses and no ties according to Elias. The game was played on the 20th anniversary of the inaugural WNBA game which Los Angeles lost 67-57 to New York in 1997.
It was a tight game throughout with 17 lead changes. Los Angeles went up 54-47 in the third quarter before Minnesota scored seven straight to tie the game. Neither team could get more than a three-point lead in the final quarter.
Toliver’s 3-pointer with 2:11 left gave Los Angeles a 69-67 lead. After a few missed chances by the Lynx, Fowles tied it, setting up the exciting finish.
“This is what you play for, fun games between two competitive teams,” Moore said. “It was a fun game to be a part of and so many people were tuning in just because of how well we have been playing to this point. You saw two excellent teams going at it, we didn’t necessarily get the offensive flow as much but we had big moments from different people at different times to where you can really see the determination from everyone on the court.”
The teams will play again Friday in Minnesota.
“Just pushing forward, I believe we were down seven at one point and we had that mentality of coming together and never giving up when they went on a great run,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We had to break a play to make a play and that is what the theme is going to be on Friday.”
Parker, Moore, Augustus and Whalen were announced as members of the WNBA’s Top 20 team earlier Tuesday.