MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Lynx wanted to send a message to visiting teams about how tough it will be to beat them at home.
Maya Moore scored 25 of her 30 points in the first half to lead the Lynx to a 97-74 victory over the Seattle Storm on Saturday night. Moore shot 12 for 15 from the field to help Minnesota to its fifth win in six games.
“We did embrace it as a message game,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Particularly at the Target Center we want to send those messages to every team that plays here. You’re going to have to play really well to come in here and beat us.”
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“Minnesota’s the best team in the league,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “There’s no question.”
Seimone Augustus had 16 points for Minnesota (22-7), while rookie Rachel Jarry had a career-high 14. Lindsay Whalen added 12 points and Monica Wright had 10.
Moore reached 30 points for the second time in her career, finishing five points short of her career-best set last Saturday against Indiana. The third-year forward is shooting 66 percent from the floor in her last three games, including 8 for 12 from the 3-point line.
“It’s always good to be confident on the offensive end,” Moore said. “Whenever the ball is going in like that it gets your team excited. I just want to make sure our offensive flow is the best it can be. If that means me scoring the ball, I’ll score the ball.”
Tina Thompson tied a season high with five 3-pointers en route to a team-high 18 points as the Storm (15-15) lost for just the second time in seven games. Temeka Johnson had 16 points and Tanisha Wright added 11.
Despite the defeat, Seattle clinched a Western Conference playoff berth with San Antonio’s loss to Los Angeles.
Seattle knew it was in for a long night when it’s season-best first quarter still left the Storm trailing 31-26.
Minnesota shot 70 percent from the floor in the first 10 minutes — getting 15 points from Moore — then held Seattle to 16 points in each of the final three quarters. The Lynx built a 20-point cushion late in the third quarter and led by as many as 27.
“With Maya and this team in general we have to do a better job of getting them out of their comfort zone,” Thompson said.
Minnesota set a season high with 41 field goals made, the most allowed by the Storm this season. The Lynx also hit 6 of 10 3-point attempts, making it 52 of 115 (45.2 percent) in its last 10 games.
Seattle has now lost nine straight games in Minneapolis — including the postseason — since July 17, 2010. The Lynx beat the Storm by 18 in the previous meeting on August 4.
Minnesota lost in double-overtime at Seattle in Game 2 of the first round last year. If they meet again this postseason, Augustus is excited to see the Storm will try to slow the Lynx down.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Augustus said. “Do you go trap Maya and leave me open? They just have to pick their poison on what they want to do. They decided to play straight up tonight and Maya just had her way.”