Napheesa Collier hit her third straight double-double, scoring 22 points and catching 16 rebounds as the Minnesota Lynx sealed their ticket to the WNBA playoffs with an 86-73 win over the Phoenix Mercury in Minneapolis on Sunday.
Kayla McBride led all Minnesota scorers with 23 points and Dorka Juhasz contributed 10 to help the Lynx (19-19) to their second straight win and the franchise’s 14th postseason appearance.
The Mercury (9-28) lost their eighth straight game in an unforgettable season, despite a game-best 32 points from Moriah Jefferson, who scored 16 points in each half. Brittany Griner added 17 points.
The Lynx dominated the second half with a 41-41 draw at halftime. Collier’s layup at 9:23 in the third quarter finally gave Minnesota a 43:41 lead. McBride’s jumper had 4:50 to go, giving the Lynx a double-digit lead (56-46) for the first time.
After a slow start, it seemed Minnesota had settled into the evening of fan appreciation, leading 18:12 and 1:17 in the first quarter after a long-range shot by Rachel Banham.
The Mercury responded with a 14-0 run that spanned the final minute of the opening period and the first minute and a half of the second third, fueled in part by a three-pointer from Kadi Sissoko and a pull-up jumper from Jefferson as Phoenix shared 26-18 lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Bridget Carleton and Tiffany Mitchell gave the Lynx a 31-31 lead with 2:49 left before a long-range shot from Aerial Powers gave Minnesota a 34-33 lead.
Banham’s second 3-ball of the half and subsequent free throw gave Minnesota a 41-39 lead with less than a minute to go. Sug Sutton’s jumper equalized the game until half-time.
Before kick-off, there was additional energy at Target Center when Collier was presented with the first-ever Sylvia Fowles Altruism Award, recognizing a Lynx player who best embodies altruistic traits such as kindness, selflessness, and general consideration for the well-being of others in the community.
https://deadspin.com/napheesa-collier-powers-lynx-to-win-over-mercury-playo-1850801335?utm_source=regular “Napheesa Collier leads Lynx to defeat Mercury and earn a playoff spot.”