MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—After a recent hiccup, the Connecticut Sun are back to being one of the best teams in the league.
Kara Lawson was one of three players with double-doubles, scoring 22 points and adding 10 rebounds, and the Sun held on to beat the Minnesota Lynx 86-80 on Saturday in a matchup of conference leaders.
It is the first time in Sun history that three players had double-doubles in the same game.
“When you play a good team, no matter who it is, you want to limit them to one shot,” Lawson said. “That’s what you do on the defensive glass. Obviously, offensive rebounds gave us extra opportunities. When we went cold in the second half, I thought we got three or four really big offensive rebounds. We were able to pull it back out or we were able to get the putback.”
It was the second straight victory for Connecticut (12-4), which won 86-75 in Tulsa on Friday. The wins come after a stretch where the Sun lost two of three, including a 34-point defeat at Indiana and an overtime home loss to Seattle.
“We knew we were kind of up against it coming in to play a team that had lost a couple in a row and was feeling like they needed to get back on track as well,” Lawson said. “This lets us assert ourselves and create some space in the East.” Connecticut now leads Indiana by 2 1/2 games.
Maya Moore led Minnesota with 19 points while Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 15 for the Lynx (13-4), who have lost three straight for the first time since July 17-29, 2010. The defeat was Minnesota’s first in nine home games this season.
“We let some of their key players do some of the things that they were comfortable with and it ended up being too little too late with our comeback,” Moore said.
The Sun led 74-54 with 7:10 to play, but Minnesota made five 3-pointers— two each by Moore and Candice Wiggins—during a 20-4 run that got the Lynx within 78-74 with 2:23 to play. McWilliams-Franklin scored the other eight points.
“We got caught in transition a couple times kind of debating who’s got who,” said Sun coach Mike Thibault. “I don’t care who’s got who, just guard somebody especially if they can make a three.”
With the sellout crowd of 10,882 on its feet, Moore missed a 3-pointer with 1:06 to play and McWilliams-Franklin committed an offensive foul the next time down the floor before the Sun made seven of eight free throws in the final 32 seconds to secure the win.
“Eventually they missed a shot,” Jones said. “I think we did a good job securing rebounds and making our free throws down the stretch.”
A jumper by Monica Wright and 3-point play by Moore got Minnesota within seven midway through the third quarter, but Connecticut finished on a 13-4 run for a 70-54 lead. Charles had six points during the run; Renee Montgomery four.
Jones scored eight points as Connecticut opened up a 10-point lead late in the first quarter, but Moore hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and Seimone Augustus scored six points as part of a 17-4 run to put the Lynx up 30-27 midway through the second. The Sun led 41-38 at halftime.
“We got some good looks offensively that we typically make,” Moore said. “We got to score with the ball every possession, especially against a team like Connecticut.”
Minnesota forward Devereaux Peters missed the game with a broken left hand. The team’s top draft pick in 2012 (third overall) is averaging 5.4 points per game.