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New York, NY- The New York Liberty (17-12) clinches playoff birth by defeating the Minnesota Lynx (22-6) 70-61.
New York faced a Minnesota team coming off an historic win against the Indiana Fever with a WNBA record 59 point margin. With that said, the Lynx were uncharacteristically 2-3 in their last five games while the Liberty came in at 4-1.
The Liberty quickly jump out to a 5-2 lead. That’s when Minnesota’s defense tightened up and they responded with a 12-2 run of their own. The Lynx were active on defense, especially in the passing lanes. Careless turnovers by New York made it easy for Minnesota to build the lead 19-11 after the first quarter.
The Lynx were looking to take control with a 3-point play by center Sylvia Fowles to open the second quarter to take a 22-11 lead. The Liberty responded by scoring the next two baskets. Minnesota would push the lead back to ten, 29-19.
New York would remain in striking distance with some timely baskets.
In a defensive struggle, Minnesota led New York 33-28 at the half. A low score considering the Liberty scored 92 points last game and 111 for the Lynx. Maya Moore led Minnesota with nine points. Tina Charles led the way for New York with eight points.
New York came out the second have on a mission, cutting the deficit to one (35-34). Charles outscored Minnesota 6-2. With 40.7 seconds left in the quarter, the Liberty took the lead (45-44) on two Sugar Rodgers free throws. New York outscored Minnesota 19-11 in the 3rd quarter to lead 47-44.
Liberty’s guard Epiphany Prince opened the 4th quarter with back-to-back buckets which It ignited New York’s 15-4 run to give them their biggest lead at 60-48.
Minnesota would not go away quietly cutting that lead to nine with just over two minutes to play.
Rodgers came up with a steal and lay up to push the lead to 11 with 1:40 to play. A couple of 3-pointers by Minnesota’s Moore made it interesting but the Liberty made their free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
New York defense paved the way to an important home victory over the WNBA’s best team. Tina Charles led New York with 19 points and nine rebounds. Prince had 15 points and Rodgers chipped in with 10 points. Moore led Minnesota with 22 points and Simone Augustus had 13 points.
With six games remaining, New York has a lot to play for. They only trail Eastern Conference’s leading team, Connecticut Sun by two games. The win kept New York on Connecticut’s (19-10) heel for the Eastern Conferences top spot.