MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Through one quarter, Seimone Augustus had taken just one shot and the Minnesota Lynx were struggling to find a rhythm.
Those struggles didn't last long.
Augustus scored 19 points and the Lynx took over the game with a 22-2 run and, then held on to beat the defending champion Seattle Storm 69-62 on Saturday night.
The Lynx started the game looking to take advantage of a Seattle team missing its two top inside threats, but once the Storm adjusted to that strategy, Augustus found room to work on the perimeter and slash to the basket.
``I think we just started to run our offense, be more efficient and get the ball in places that made it tough for Seattle,' Augustus said. ``I just kind of played off of them. Our main thing tonight was to get the ball into the post and have Rebekkah (Brunson) and Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) go to work down there. (The defense) started to collapse and they kicked it out so I just played off of them.'
Brunson added 16 points for Minnesota (9-4), while Lindsay Whalen scored 13. Rookie Maya Moore was held to just 7 points on 3-of-7 shooting but she grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
Tanisha Wright scored 18 points to lead Seattle (7-6), while Swin Cash had 16 and Sue Bird added 15.
The Storm were playing without three-time MVP Lauren Jackson, who is recovering from hip surgery, and Camille Little missed the game for personal reasons. But the Lynx appeared a step slow after playing in the highest-scoring regulation game in league history on Wednesday, then winning at Indiana on Friday night.
``They did a nice job limiting our number of possessions and we really had to grind that thing out,' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. ``Doing it back-to-back, it was one of those things . by one or by 21, just win the game.'
At one point it appeared the Lynx would cruise to a comfortable victory. After Bird hit consecutive 3s to put Seattle ahead 24-23 with 6:23 to play in the first half, Augustus followed with a pair of jumpers that started a 12-2 Minnesota run to close out the half.
The Lynx then expanded the run by scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter. Seattle hit just 1 of 18 shots over that span and fell behind by as much as 21 before mounting their comeback.
``We can't go into those lulls because it gives teams opportunities to get big leads on us,' Bird said. ``Even though we do come back, it's a lot of energy to do that and then sometimes it's difficult to get over the hump, tying it or taking the lead. We're definitely aware of that. We've just got to have a little more focus.'
The Storm eventually recovered from the big Minnesota run and pulled to 63-57 on a three-point play by Wright with 2:39 to play. They had a chance to cut the lead even further, but Moore stripped the ball from Bird on a fastbreak, Whalen hit two free throws and Minnesota led by eight with 36.1 seconds to go.
After another defensive stop by the Lynx, Whalen converted two more free throws to secure Minnesota's second straight win and sole possession of second place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Phoenix.
In doing so, the Lynx got back to doing what they do best, playing defense. After giving up a season-high 112 points in a loss to Phoenix on Wednesday, Minnesota clamped down and limited Indiana to 70 points on Friday before holding Seattle to just 62 on Saturday.
Reeve said the team's defensive performance against Phoenix was a wake-up call.
``Some losses loom large for a team, and for us . it's not who we want to be,' she said. ``Sometimes that has to happen to you to really make that recognition. I thought we had a great deal of emphasis on our defense, a lot of focus on it. Two games of pretty good D, so we kind of got back to who we are.'
The Associated Press News Service
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