July 3, 2022 - 8:33 pm
Aces coach Becky Hammon didn’t mince her words, saying her team was dominated by the Minnesota Lynx.
It wasn’t just the physical part of the game, either.
“The heart and the mind first. And that’s disappointing,” Hammon said after a 102-71 drubbing Sunday at Target Center in Minneapolis.
The loss was the Aces’ fourth in six games and their largest defeat this season. The Lynx are only the second team to score 100 points or more against them.
“They played harder, much harder,” Hammon said. “They wanted the game more. They played smarter, so they won.”
Forward Aerial Powers scored a career-high 32 points to lead the Lynx. That equaled the output of the Aces’ top three scorers this season — Kelsey Plum (12 points), A’ja Wilson (10) and Jackie Young (10), who were averaging 55.9 points entering the game.
Moriah Jefferson and Rachel Banham each scored 13 for Minnesota (7-15).
The Aces (15-6) host the New York Liberty at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Michelob Ultra Arena in their final game before the All-Star break.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Aces defense collapses
Minnesota set the tone early, racing to a 10-0 lead. Young scored the Aces’ first points on a 3-pointer more than three minutes into the game.
The Lynx led 33-15 after the first quarter.
“They were the aggressor from the beginning, so we were always playing catch-up,” Aces guard Chelsea Gray said.
The defense continued to implode, and the offense was in and out of rhythm. The Lynx shot 50 percent overall and 41.4 percent on 3s. Minnesota players constantly slipped free for uncontested layups and hit open shots.
“I saw the scouting report, and schemes go out the window,” Hammon said.
2. Powers unstoppable
No player took advantage of the Aces’ anemic defense more than Powers, who hit 10 of 17 shots, including 3 of 7 3-pointers. She drove into the heart of the Aces’ scrambling defense or found spots to shoot her midrange jumper.
“She came out with a lot of energy and got off to a good start,” Young said.
Powers scored 14 in the first quarter. She was fouled twice behind the 3-point line in the game, resulting in six free throws.
“We just didn’t play smart, and you could start with our defense on her,” Hammon said.
3. Lynx dominate rebounding
Playing in front of one of the best rebounders in WNBA history, former Lynx star Rebekkah Brunson, whose jersey was retired after the game, Minnesota dominated on the boards. The Lynx outrebounded the Aces 53-25 and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds.
Those extra possessions led to six extra shots and 11 second-chance points. Gray said the poor rebounding also hurt the Aces’ offense by limiting their transition opportunities.
“They were getting 50-50 balls that weren’t even coming right off the rim,” Gray said. “Our energy on that end just has to be better.”