MINNEAPOLIS — A collision with a teammate sent Maya Moore to the bench, and even that didn’t slow her down in the end.
Moore recovered from cracking heads with Seimone Augustus to score 30 points on a record-setting night and the Minnesota Lynx defeated the New York Liberty 87-82 Saturday.
Moore became the first WNBA player to score at least 30 points in four straight games. She hit four 3-pointers in the game’s opening minutes and finished 11 for 19 from the field.
Her streak appeared to be in jeopardy after she and Augustus collided while chasing down a rebound at the end of the first quarter. Moore’s forehead slammed into the crown of Augustus’ head, and both players missed a good portion of the second quarter while recovering.
"I needed an ice bag for my forehead when that happened," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. "I’m thinking, `How are we going to score?’"
Point guard Lindsay Whalen helped the Lynx maintain their cushion with their other two Olympians on the bench. Whalen scored Minnesota’s first nine points of the second quarter en route to a season-high 21.
But Tina Charles then scored eight straight points and the Liberty charged back and stayed on Minnesota’s heels the rest of the night. New York opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run and led 53-51 late in the third with Moore and her teammates struggling to regain form.
Then Moore drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and hit a baseline jumper to close out the quarter with 23 points. She clinched the record on a drive to the basket with 3 minutes, 13 seconds to play and the Lynx hit 9 of 11 free throws to hang on.
After scoring a career-high 38 in a win at Tulsa on Friday night, Moore is averaging a league-best 33.8 points.
"It’s really kind of overwhelming. I’m not really thinking too much — I’m just out there playing, worried about helping my team win," said Moore, who needed five stitches to close the cut over her right eye.
Moore is shooting 55.3 percent from the field and 51.6 percent on 3-pointers through her first four games. Augustus, who returned late in the second quarter and finished with 18 points, is in awe of Moore’s hot start.
"Any time you see someone in a zone like Maya’s been the last four games it’s amazing," Augustus said. "People come in with the strategy of stopping her and no one’s figured out how to do it."
Charles led New York with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Cappie Pondexter added 18 points and Essence Carson chipped in 14 for the Liberty (1-2).
"I thought we competed hard," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "If we play that engaged throughout the course of the season we’re going to win a lot of basketball games."