On Sunday, she rewarded them - eventually.
The Connecticut Sun held Whalen to just 2-for-11 from the field and seven points throughout regulation, but she scored 10 points in overtime, including Minnesota's last eight points, as the defending champion Lynx improved to 2-0 with a 90-87 win.
''She always says, 'I've got ya, coach,' and today I wanted to believe her,'' Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said of Whalen. ''She gave me a reason, if we're in the same situation again, to put her back out there. She knew for the better part of the game she was putting us in tough spots, and she made up for it.''
Rookie Chiney Ogwumike led Connecticut (0-2) with 25 points. The Sun led by 16 in the third quarter, taking advantage of 24 turnovers by Minnesota, before Moore keyed a furious rally. Katie Douglas added 13 points for Connecticut, which won just 10 games last season.
''They know how to finish games and we're just learning how to do that,'' Ogwumike said. ''I think this is a great gut check that we came out and we didn't fall apart, especially when Maya went off. I'm proud of our effort, but obviously this stings.''
Augustus finished with 18 points.
The Sun, who opened the season with a 21-point home loss, looked like a much different team in the first half. They consistently pressed, forcing 11 turnovers, and were leading 51-38 at the break behind 11 points from Douglas. Moore led all first-half scorers with 16 for Minnesota, while Whalen was struggling.
When Whalen found her game, the result was familiar.
''She takes the game over late,'' Sun coach Anne Donovan said. ''She just put her head down and went to the basket and we had a real hard time getting anybody in front of her. When Lindsay's not scoring, it's not that she isn't helping that team. She's such a great leader, getting the ball in people's hands and running the team.''
The Sun led by 16 in the third quarter, but Minnesota finally made a push late, closing the third on a 10-0 run, and taking a 68-66 lead with just under seven minutes left in the fourth. But the Sun made a run of their own and led 78-76 with 6.7 seconds left before Augustus scored, hitting a fallaway shot on the final possession of regulation.
''This game was a tale of two halves, really, just not being the aggressor in the first half,'' said Moore, who was recognized before the game for winning the WNBA finals MVP award last season. ''We started off offensively OK, but defensively we were never where we needed to be, letting them score too many points. I was just trying to be aggressive. Sometimes, you have to take some chances, just lock in and be focused.''
Before the game, WNBA president Laurel Richie and team owner Glen Taylor handed out the 2013 championship rings and the Lynx championship banner was unveiled.
- Sports & Recreation
- Minnesota Lynx
- Lindsay Whalen
- Connecticut Sun
- Seimone Augustus
- Maya Moore