Weary Lynx bounce back with 87-77 victory over Fever – Twin Cities

Minnesota Lynx players and coaches have said they need to treat every remaining game like a playoff contest.

One night after a second-half rally came up short, Jessica Shepard and Kayla McBride took over in the third quarter Friday before Sylvia Fowles finished with a strong fourth quarter to make sure a golden opportunity was not wasted.

McBride scored a dozen points, Shepard scored nine points and dished out a couple pretty assists as part of a 24-5, third-quarter run that sparked the Lynx, who went on to beat Indiana 87-77.

Winners in four of five and seven of 10, Minnesota got a season-high 28 points from McBride, along with 22 points and 12 rebounds from a hobbling Fowles, her third straight double-double and second straight 20-10 performance.

“We knew that we had to come in this game and win,” said Shepard, who finished with 11 points and five assists. “Just to be able to come out of here, regardless of the circumstances, we didn’t focus on that; we didn’t even talk about it, just come out here and play hard. This is our job. We did a great job in the second half of bringing energy and doing whatever it took to win.”

Playing their third game in four nights and the second night of a back-to-back, the Lynx left their Minneapolis headquarters at 5 a.m. for an early-morning commercial flight to Indianapolis and lost an hour changing time zones.

Losers of eight straight games, Indiana has the league’s worst record at 5-21. However, the Fever had beaten Minnesota twice this season.

“There’s no bad team in this league, and if you don’t come correct they’ll whoop you,” said coach Cheryl Reeve.

The Lynx (10-16) were turnover-prone and not defensively sharp in the first half, yet only trailed by one at intermission. The deficit was 52-43 approaching the midpoint of quarter three.

That’s where Minnesota’s mentality changed.

“We just decided to get stops, bear down and get back to what we’ve been doing to make us successful these last 8-10 games, which is our defense and then playing off that,” McBride said. “We were able to get in transition, get easy ones and that kind of led to the other stuff.”

McBride scored an a pair of layups, including one on a pass from Shepard. Moriah Jefferson scored on a layup, McBride fed Shepard for another and Jefferson fed Natalie Achonwa for the same. McBride added a 3-pointer, and Shepard added a three-point play for a 67-57 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

“I want to be able to maximize as much as I can and be the best version of myself and this team whether it’s scoring or not. It makes me more happy seeing a plus 17 than it does seeing the 28 points because I know that means I was doing the right thing to help my teammates,” McBride said.

Minnesota was 12 of 18 from the field in the quarter and only turned the ball over three times after doing so a dozen times in the first half. Eighteen of its 46 points in the paint came in the quarter.

Much of it was done without Fowles, who returned with authority in the fourth quarter with 11 points and six rebounds as Minnesota pulled away.

“When Syl is fresh you can’t stop her,” Shepard said. “We just came in and kind of had an edge to us and just made sure we were locking on what the coaches were asking us to do, getting stops and executing on offense.”

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