Lynx lose to Liberty, drop within half-game of last place in WNBA

With the clock ticking under one second left in the first half, Sabrina Ionescu heaved up a half-court shot.

The buzzer rang. The ball banked in. It was a shot so deep that it didn’t register on Ionescu’s shot chart.

The 2020 first overall draft pick fueled a high-octane New York attack Tuesday night, scoring 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting, including a perfect 4-for-4 from deep, as the Liberty rolled over the Lynx 88-69 at Barclays Center.

“They played considerably harder than we did,” Reeve said. “Their offensive pace, their will, far outmatched ours. And whenever that happens for us, we’re not a very good team.”

The loss dropped the Lynx to 3-9 on the year, again putting them at the bottom of the Western Conference and second to last in the WNBA, only half a game ahead of the Indiana Fever (3-10).

Minnesota had won the first two games of the year against New York, including on Sunday, but the script flipped Tuesday. Behind Ionescu’s near perfection, the Liberty shot 46% from the field and 36% on 33 shots from deep — even with Ionescu resting in the fourth quarter.

It was an offensive clinic the Lynx couldn’t hope to match.

“Outscore people? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen,” Reeve said. “I’ve had a lot of teams that maybe you could go, ‘You know what, let’s just try to outscore them,’ and probably win. This is not that team.”

Rachel Banham summed up the night for the Minnesota on a play midway through the second quarter.

Working in the corner, a New York defender knocked the ball out of her hands. Banham recovered and set up to shoot only to have the ball dislodged again. With the shot clock ticking down, she hurled the ball up in a desperation attempt off the side of the glass. She yanked her sweatband down over her eyes as she walked back on defense.

“We couldn’t generate offense,” Reeve said. “We go from having a very efficient game, and then the very next game, your defense is gonna take hits when your offense is that inefficient.”

The Lynx shot 33% from the field and connected on only three of 22 three-point attempts.

Aerial Powers, who tied a career high in scoring Sunday, didn’t score a point until three minutes before halftime. She picked it up in the second half to finish with 11 but shot only 3-for-12 from the field and 0-for-3 from deep.

Kayla McBride led Minnesota in scoring with 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting. Banham didn’t notch a field goal on six attempts, including four from three. Sylvia Fowles was the only player on the team to shoot better than 50%.

“We didn’t necessarily count on having the same game from Powers, so you have to get it from somewhere else, and we just didn’t,” Reeve said. “I thought Syl was good, but we just couldn’t get much help scoring the ball.”

New York rode run after run as Minnesota couldn’t find an answer. An 11-0 streak for the Liberty near the end of the first quarter put the team up for good.

Jessica Shepard looked to provide a spark at the start of the second. She finished a three-point play to open scoring in the quarter, then on the next possession, deftly redirected a pass in the paint to set up a short Evina Westbrook jumper. Westbrook’s make pulled the Lynx within four and forced a New York timeout less than two minutes into the frame.

Once Powers got on the board later in the second, Minnesota moved within one. But it would never get that close again.

The Liberty came out of halftime up 45-37 and riding the momentum of Ionescu’s half-court bomb. As if every shot went in, New York put together three separate runs of 6-0 or greater in the 10-minute period. The 29-11 third quarter put the Liberty up 24 points heading into the fourth.

Reeve cycled on the substitutes. End scene.

“Today was very disappointing,” Reeve said. “Because I thought we had made some progress [Sunday], and our will was not very much tonight.”

The Star Tribune did not travel for this event. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the event.

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