MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kayla McBride scored 23 points, Napheesa Collier and Dorka Juhász added double-doubles and the Minnesota Lynx clinched a spot in the playoffs by handing Phoenix its eighth straight loss with an 86-73 victory over the Mercury on Sunday.
The Lynx are currently the No. 5 seed and have an outside shot to catch the Dallas Wings and earn the homecourt advantage in the first round.
Minnesota started the season 0-6, but avoided missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The Lynx are only the second team ever to lose at least its first six games and still make the postseason. Los Angeles also did it in 2015.
McBride sank 9 of 20 shots with two 3-pointers for Minnesota (19-19). Collier finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds and five assists for her 11th double-double of the season. Juhász pitched in with 10 points and 12 boards.
Moriah Jefferson totaled a career-high 32 points for Phoenix (9-28). Brittney Griner added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Jefferson hit a shot and the Mercury made 5 of 6 free throws to close out the first quarter on a 7-0 run for a 19-18 lead.
Minnesota fell behind by eight early in the second period. Rachel Banham’s four-point play with 45 seconds left gave the Lynx a 41-39 lead before Sug Sutton made a layup to pull the Mercury even at halftime.
McBride had nine points in a pivotal third quarter, Collier scored eight and the Lynx took a commanding 69-54 lead into the final period.
Phoenix falls to 1-18 on the road this season.