Time and time again the Minnesota Lynx tried to give Tuesday’s game away.
Bending, but finally not breaking, the Lynx were able to put away Phoenix 118-107 in double overtime at Target Center.
Aerial Powers established career highs with 35 points and 13 rebounds to pace Minnesota. She also committed nine of the 22 Lynx turnovers.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to keep playing,” she said. “I knew we needed this win. My teammates helped me stay mentally engaged.”
And they contributed nicely, too.
Rachel Banham was strong off the bench with 25 points. Sylvia Fowles had 14 points and 14 rebounds in nearly 37 minutes, far more than her minutes restriction coming back from a right knee injury. It could limit her availability the next game.
A pair of Powers plays finally secured Minnesota’s third straight win and sixth in eight games.
She intercepted a pass with 1:12 remaining and scored at the other end for a 114-107 lead. Banham added a pair of free throws, Powers snared a rebound and Kayla McBride sank two more free throws to finally secure the win. McBride had 17 points.
“Everybody in the locker room knows that was not good enough and we were fortunate to win the game,” said coach Cheryl Reeve.
Sophie Cunningham obliterated her career high of 23 points by scoring 36, including six 3-pointers. Her previous career-best was 23 points. Skylar-Diggins Smith scored 32.
It was the first time since 2010 that three players had 30-plus points in a WNBA game.
Minnesota (9-15) remains in 11th place in the 12-team league, ½ game behind Phoenix (10-16) and New York and 1 ½ games behind eighth-place Dallas, which comes to Minnesota Thursday.
Playing a stretch of four games in six days, the Lynx are at Indiana Friday and Washington Sunday.
Minnesota grabbed a franchise-best 55 rebounds and is the first team in WNBA history with at least 50 rebounds in three games in a season. All occurred since June 28.
Yet Reeve was not happy with that.
“Twenty-one offensive rebounds is the reason why they sent it to overtime; it’s the reason they were able to stay in there throughout the game,” she said.
“There’s no reason they should be able to get that many offensive rebounds because at the end of the day rebounding is effort,” Powers said. “Of course, we love the win, but we’re always looking to get better every game so we’re definitely going to take a look at it.”
“It should have been over earlier. We gave ’em way too many opportunities at the end,” Banham admitted.
McBride drained a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the first extra session, but the defense allowed Diggins-Smith to drive for a layup at the horn to force another 5 minutes of free basketball.
Down by two early in the fourth quarter, Fowles scored in the paint, Banham drained a 3-point shot and another before Fowles scored on a layup off a feed from Powers to liven up the 6,503 in attendance.
Banham is 17 for 34 from outside the arc in her past five games.
“I continue to prepare myself the same … I’ve been staying confident so I’m really happy that they’re starting to fall,” she said.
Jessica Shepard scored on a short jumper and converted a Banham feed for an 84-71 Minnesota lead.
Phoenix did not score for 5:28 then scored 18 of the final 23 points in the frame, including a pair of 3-pointers by Sophie Cunningham and a Cunningham layup off Minnesota’s 20th turnover to make it 84-81 Lynx with 1:56 left.
“We kind of got cocky with a seven or eight-point lead and we stopped playing and we stopped being focused. It’s not something you can get away with,” Reeve said.
Tied at 86, Minnesota missed three of four free throws in the final minute, allowing Phoenix to tie the game on another 3-pointer from Cunningham with 3.2 seconds left. Out of a time out, the Lynx failed to get off a shot.