Lynx edge Liberty for Commissioner's Cup, $500K prize in potential WNBA Finals preview

Alanna Smith and the Lynx won the fourth annual WNBA Commissioner's Cup. (Wendell Cruz/Reuters)
Alanna Smith and the Lynx won the fourth annual WNBA Commissioner’s Cup. (Wendell Cruz/Reuters)

In a battle featuring the best team from each conference, The Minnesota Lynx edged the New York Liberty, 94-89 on Tuesday to win the WNBA’s fourth annual Commissioner’s Cup.

The win fended off a second consecutive Commissioner’s Cup win for the Liberty and secured a $500,000 prize that will be split up among Lynx players. The cash prize is a boon in a league with a roughly $1.4 million salary cap and an average salary just north of $100,000. Each player will earn a minimum of $30,000 for the win.

In a game that was tight throughout, the Liberty opened a 50-47 halftime advantage after Courtney Vandersloot capped the first half with a layup in the final seconds of the second quarter. The score remained close through late in the third quarter, when it was tied at 60-60 with 49 seconds remaining.

The Lynx then straddled the end of the third and the start of the fourth with a 10-0 run to take a 70-60 lead.

The Liberty responded with a personal 9-0 run by All-Star Breanna Stewart to cut their deficit to 1. But New York would never retake the lead.

Minnesota relied on its hot shooting and ball distribution to hold New York at bay and secure the win in a potential Finals preview. The win for the Lynx is the second in two meetings with the Liberty following an 84-67 victory on May 25. The teams will conclude their regular-season series in a July 2 rematch in New York.

They Lynx won via a balanced effort as five players scored in double figures. Bridget Carleton led the way with 23 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. She shot 8 of 10 from the field and hit 6 of 8 3-point attempts on a night where Minnesota shot 48.3% (14 of 29) from beyond the arc as a team.

Napheesa Collier was named MVP after posting 21 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block. The Lynx shot 47.8% from the field, hit all 14 of their free throw attempts and assisted on 26 of their 33 made field goals.

Stewart led the Liberty effort with 24 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. She turned the ball over five times. Sabrina Ionescu added 23 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals but struggled from 3-point distance on a 2-of-11 effort from beyond the arc and committed seven turnovers. The Liberty committed 20 turnovers compared to just 10 by the Lynx.

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