Lynx capture 3rd title in 5 years with 69-52 win in Game 5
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota—Powered by a suffocating defense and a yearning to celebrate in front of their loyal fans, Minnesota comfortably beat Indiana 69-52 on Wednesday to clinch a third WNBA title in five years.
Sylvia Fowles had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Seimone Augustus added 16 points and Rebekkah Brunson grabbed 14 rebounds for the Lynx, who also won it all in 2011 and 2013.
Maya Moore scored just five points on 1-for-8 shooting, but the Lynx forced 21 turnovers and held Indiana to 35.7 percent shooting in the league’s first Game 5 decider since 2009.
Tamika Catchings had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana, which was chasing a second championship.
Finally, the Lynx got to celebrate on their home court.
They won their first two titles on the road in Atlanta, forcing the success-starved Twin Citiessports fans to revel from afar. When the final buzzer sounded, a franchise-record 18,933 fans waved white towels while singer Prince watched from a suite above Target Center’s lower bowl.
Augustus shed tears of joy after a throwback performance. Owner Glen Taylor hugged coach Cheryl Reeve, and Moore leaped on to the scorer’s table and pumped her fists toward the crowd.
“We kept grinding and working despite everything that we’ve been through,” Augustus said.
It was a stunning collapse for the previously unflappable Fever, who had staved off elimination five straight times in these playoffs leading into Game 5.
Briann January and Catchings helped turn Indiana into a tough, confident bunch that erased an 18-point deficit to beat the New York Liberty in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, but finally ran into a wall they couldn’t break through.
In the second and third quarters, the Fever scored 12 points total and turned the ball over 17 times.
Star guard January scored six points in the first quarter for Indiana, but didn’t get her next bucket until six minutes were gone in the third. She finished with 13 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
“They just outplayed us in every single way,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “They looked like a team that was on a mission and they played like it.”
The game got off to an ugly start, with the Lynx slugging out a 27-21 lead at halftime in the lowest-scoring first half in finals history. Neither team could hit a shot or hold on to the ball, and Moore was held to just three points on 1-for-5 shooting.
The Lynx kept the defense set to stifling in the second half, but finally started to generate a little offense in the third to gradually pull away.
The Fever stunned the heavily favored Lynx in 2012, beating them at home in Game 1 and finishing them off back home in Indiana to dethrone the champions. The Lynx came back to win it in 2013 before losing to Phoenix in the Western Conference finals last year.
The march to their third championship was harder than ever, with Lindsay Whalen and Augustus missing big chunks of time with injuries and a style-altering trade that brought Fowles to the post midseason.
“Wasn’t a perfect year, perfect series or a perfect game,” Moore said. “But we’re champions.”