The Minnesota Lynx defeated the WNBA-defending champion Indiana Fever 84-77 at the Target Center tonight, sweeping the season series. The win gives Minnesota two in a row, as they attempt to find their footing following a 1-4 stretch. The Lynx improve to 20-7 on the season with the victory. The Fever now fall to 12-15 on the year, and are 1-13 when allowing their opponent to score over 70 points.
"We thought it was a really important win for our team in that it required execution on both sides. It required toughness," said Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve. "Not to say that we didn't have those in other games, but this one just felt different."
The Fever were again without star wing Katie Douglas, who has been out since May 31 with a lower back injury.
Maya Moore quickly emerged as the story in tonight's Finals rematch. She finished the game with 35 points, passing her previous career high of 29. She had 20 points in the second half, and came away with a series of clutch shots towards the end of the game.
Seimone Augusts had 17 points on 8-10 shooting. Lindsay Whalen also managed to stuff the stat sheet, putting up 9 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
For Indiana, Tamika Catchings finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Shavonte Zellous had 19 points and 7 assists.
The first quarter ended with a close score (Minnesota leading 23-21), but the Lynx had the momentum for the entirety of the quarter. Maya Moore led the way with 11 points in a quarter where she looked for her shot quite a bit, shooting 5-8 from the field. Janel McCarvile also put in 8 points on 3-3 shooting in the quarter, including 2 from the three-point line.
The Lynx would have likely had a wider lead after the first, but they allowed too many open shots from the perimeter, and the Fever took advantage, shooting 3-5 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, with 2 of them coming from Shavonte Zellous. This would be a problem for the Lynx throughout the game, as the Fever finished 50% from three.
Regardless, the Lynx looked much hungrier throughout than they have in some recent home games, but the Feer were able to stay with them through most of the contest. The Lynx held a two point lead at halftime.
Janel McCarville finished the half 5-6 with 12 points and 1 rebound. Maya Moore was clearly zoned-in. Through two quarters, she already had compiled 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. On the flip side, Lindsay Whalen shot 0-7 in the first half, but did manage 7 rebounds and 3 assists. The Fever were led early on by Tamika Catchings with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Lynx still looked like a team on a mission on the offensive end, but their inability to cover from the perimeter on defense crippled their chances of putting together any sort of a run. The exact same problem they encountered in the first quarter.
As the second half began, the Lynx looked as if they were going to make that run. Lindsay Whalen finally started waking up, hitting her first three shots from the field. Moore kept up her scoring rampage and put in another 9 points in the quarter. Once again, however, three point shooting kept the Fever in the game, as they did not miss from behind the arc in the third quarter.
Finally, the run everyone in the Target Center was waiting for happened. The fourth quarter belonged completely to the Lynx. In particular, the fourth quarter belonged to Seimone Augusts and, of course, Maya Moore. They scored 17 of Minnesota's 23 points in the quarter, propelling them to the eventual 84-77 victory.
The biggest play of the game came midway through the fourth quarter with the score tied at 72. The Fever had stopped a run by the Lynx and come back to tie it up, but Maya Moore put in a three pointer that Indiana was not able to recover from.
The Lynx finished with a 44-28 advantage in points in the paint, something that Coach Reeve described as a key factor going in. While Indiana finished with an impressive 10 out of 20 three pointers, it ultimately wasn't enough and the Lynx were able to walk away with a victory.