What began in Minnesota ended in Minnesota.
The Phoenix Mercury’s winning streak ended at 16 games Thursday, two shy of the WNBA record, following a 75-67 loss at the defending champion Minnesota Lynx, which was the run’s first victim, June 15.
The 2001 Los Angeles Sparks retain the record of 18 consecutive wins en route to winning their first of back-to-back titles behind Lisa Leslie.
Featuring half of the Western Conference All-Star team and a third of the U.S. team that won the gold medal in London, easily the WNBA’s two best teams matched up at the Target Center.
The Lynx (21-6) pounced on a 21-10 lead after the first quarter and held Diana Taurasi to 10 points on 5-of-21 shooting and the team to 37 percent, 13 percentage points below its stellar average.
Maya Moore scored 20 points, Seimone Augustus 19, Lindsay Whalen 10, and Rebekkah Brunson recorded 10 points while grabbing 12 rebounds for the Lynx.
Brittney Griner led Phoenix (22-4) with 18 points, while Penny Taylor scored 16, and Candice Dupree notched another double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Phoenix’s last loss was 96-95 June 12 in Connecticut, and it had been rolling, with its most recent seven wins coming in double digits.
“I was very fortunate to come on this team,” rookie guard Tiffany Bias said of the Mercury after Tuesday’s win over the Sparks. “It’s great to learn from all of these great players who have been in the league a long time, and to just watch them and see how they play the game, each day you just learn more and more, you can see on the court just how much you’ve learned since training camp.”
The Mercury returns to Phoenix for a game at 7 p.m. Saturday with Tamika Catchings, Briann January and the Indiana Fever (12-14), which won at Seattle 76-67 Thursday. Gymnast Jordyn Wieber will be honored as a Woman of Inspiration at halftime of the game.
NOTABLE BASKETBALL WINNING STREAKS
(90) UCONN WOMEN: Led by Moore, the Huskies put together two undefeated national title runs between losses to Stanford in the 2008 national semifinal and Dec. 30, 2010.
(70) UCONN WOMEN: With Taurasi leading the way, the Huskies rebounded from a national semifinal loss to Notre Dame in 2001 with a perfect 2001-02 and a flawless 2002-03 until they ran into Villanova in the 2003 Big East title game.
(99) UCONN WOMEN: At home between the 2007 Big East Championship Game loss to Rutgers and a Feb. 18, 2012, bowing to St. John’s, no one came out of Storrs or Hartford with a W except Moore and her teammates. Let’s add the fact that Moore’s entire career spanned between these games (2007-2011).
The Los Angeles Lakers hold the NBA record with 33 wins in a row in 1971-72, with the 2012-13 Miami Heat second at 27.
UCLA’s 88-game men’s basketball streak spanned from 1971 to 1974, with both losses bookended to Notre Dame.