Augustus leads Lynx in rout of Liberty
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It took a quarter to get going, but once they did, the Minnesota Lynx showed that they can recover from a loss just fine.
Seimone Augustus scored a season-high 26 points, rookie Devereaux Peters added a career-best 18, and the Lynx got back on track by beating the New York Liberty 102-70 on Thursday night.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 15 points for Minnesota (11-1), which started the season a WNBA-best 10-0 before losing to Seattle on Sunday.
“We wanted to see how we’d bounce back. I think everybody wanted to see it,” Augustus said. “We had a lack of aggression, but in the second quarter, we showed what we can do.”
Cappie Pondexter scored a season-high 30 points to lead the Liberty (4-8). Nicole Powell scored 16 and made all four 3-point attempts as New York lost for the third time in four games.
“This is the hardest team in the WNBA to defend because they have so many offensive weapons,” Liberty coach John Whisenant said. “They just spanked us. They played like a WNBA champion.”
Six of the Liberty’s losses this season have been by at least 15 points — four by at least 23, including a franchise-worst 97-55 defeat at Connecticut last Friday.
The Lynx have won 12 straight at home since a loss to New York on Sept. 2 last season. The Liberty hit 13 of 26 3-pointers in that game, and it looked like they might have a repeat performance here again.
New York made five of its first six from long distance and jumped to a 28-17 lead early in the second quarter.
Augustus then scored seven points during a 13-0 run that gave the Lynx the lead for good.
“We started flying around, getting deflections and turned the tide a little bit,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We really wanted to respond to that loss in Seattle. We were trying hard. Maybe too hard in the beginning.”
The 32-point win for the defending WNBA champs was their largest margin of victory this season and the fourth time its beat an opponent by 20 or more points.
Leilani Mitchell swished a half-court shot that cut Minnesota’s lead to 45-42 at halftime. However, despite Pondexter’s best efforts, the Liberty never got closer.
Whenever Pondexter made a shot, Augustus usually answered.
Augustus’ 3-pointer capped a 9-0 run that stretched the Lynx’s lead to 56-44 with 6:22 left in the third. She had a fallaway baseline hook that rolled around and in and resulted in a three-point play late in the third to increase the lead to 16.
It was also a bounce-back game for Augustus, who made just 17 of her last 44 shots before Thursday.
“She just has that gift to put it in the hole,” Reeve said. “She’s very prideful. If you slow her down for a few games, she’s not going to let it happen again.”
Minnesota also scored the first 10 points of the fourth to push the advantage to 91-63 with 7 1/2 minutes to go.
Minnesota outrebounded New York 49-31 and had assists on 26 of its 36 field goals.
“They had 16 offensives rebounds,” Whisenant said. “It’s been our nemesis all year. We can play good defense, but if we let the other team get the offensive rebound, it doesn’t do us much good.”