Maya Moore

WNBA Finals between Lynx and Fever go to decisive Game 5

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) It’s only fitting these WNBA Finals are going the distance.

“It’s absolutely been a great series,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Four really, really hard fought games. Why not go to a Game 5? It’s been that good of a series. It’s one of those things that people like to see. I think it’s good for the game. Good to have eyes on our product right now because there’s a lot of great things to watch and a lot of great people out there putting it all out there.”

This is the first time since 2009 the league’s championship has gone the full length. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Minneapolis, where the Fever won Game 1.

“It gives us confidence knowing that we’ve been able to win on the road all season long,” Indiana coach Stephanie White said. “We’re happy to be playing another day.”

Indiana won 75-69 on Sunday night in Game 4. As they’ve done all postseason, the Fever found a way to stave off elimination. Indiana is 5-0 in the playoffs this season in elimination games. Starting with their run to the franchise’s lone title in 2012, the Fever are 9-2 in elimination games.

The only other series to make it to a fifth game since the WNBA started playing best-of-five in 2005 were in 2006 and 2007. History may be on Indiana’s side. The team that won the championship in all three of those series lost Game 3.

Maya Moore, who hit a buzzer-beating shot for the Lynx in Game 3, can appreciate what this series has meant.

“It’s been a fun one to watch,” she said. “Especially the last few games have been very fun from a fans standpoint. Lots of great things happening, players making plays. If I was to say where do I want to finish my season, it would be at the Target Center.”

Now the Lynx return home with a chance to win their third title in five years. Only the Houston Comets won more in a similar stretch when they took the first four WNBA championships. The Lynx won their previous two titles on the road, in Atlanta in 2011 and 2013. They’ll have a chance to win one in front of their home fans.

“Great opportunity for us and our fans who have been with us all season,” Moore said. “That’s the beauty of it. Be ourselves at homes. We have a really good chance if we do that.”

Tamika Catchings has been a huge reason for the Fever’s postseason run, seemingly willing them to victories.

“This was a great series for the WNBA, great for women’s basketball,” Catchings said. “It’s great it’s on TV and so many people are locked into this that have never seen a WNBA game. Never been interested in women’s basketball. Basketball is basketball. You can’t deny there’s great competition on both sides. Great plays on both sides of the ball. It’s only fitting that we go to Game 5. We’ll go to Minnesota and the place will be loud. That’s what you play for.”

Catchings announced before the season she will retire after the 2016 season. She has spent her whole career in Indiana, getting to the title series three times. She was on the team that lost to Phoenix in Game 5 in 2009.

“We’ve been very blessed as an organization to be able to make the playoffs 11 years straight,” she said. “But making it to the finals, out of 11 years, we’ve only been there three times. So this doesn’t happen every single year, and every game you have to take advantage of your next opportunity.”

 

Moore hits winner to lift Lynx over Fever 80-77

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Maya Moore made a 3-pointer at the buzzer from the top of the key to give the Minnesota Lynx an 80-77 victory over the Indiana Fever on Friday night in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

Moore, who finished with 24 points, took the inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left, moved to her right to elude a defender and swished the winner. The referees reviewed the play for a few minutes before declaring the basket good and leaving the Fever crowd stunned.

Minnesota leads the best-of-five series 2-1.

Game 4 is Sunday night with Minnesota trying to win its third title in five years. The team that has won Game 3 has won 70 percent of the titles since the WNBA went to a best-of-five format in 2005. Indiana is trying to become the first No. 3 seed to win a title. The first 18 championships were won by either one or two seeds.

These two teams played in the finals in 2012, which Indiana won for its lone title. After splitting the first two games that season, Indiana routed Minnesota in Game 3. This one was a much tighter contest.

As had been the case in the first two of the games in the series where each team won by six points, this one came down to the end. Neither team led by more than five points in the fourth quarter. Minnesota trailed 77-74 with 2:08 left before Renee Montgomery hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 77 with 1:11 left.

Both teams missed shots over the next 40 seconds before Indiana had the ball with 25 seconds left. Shenise Johnson’s jumper from the corner was partially tipped with a few seconds left and the ball went out of bounds giving Minnesota one last chance to win in regulation, which Moore took.

She had been saddled in foul trouble all night, playing just 12 minutes through the first three quarters. Moore scored 12 points in the final period to lift the Lynx. Seimone Augustus added 13 points, and Montgomery had 12.

Johnson finished with 17 points to lead Indiana. Tamika Catchings added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Moore helped Minnesota build a 28-21 early in the second quarter and was playing well before she picked up her third foul and sat the rest of the half.

With Minnesota’s star on the bench, Indiana got going on offense. Catchings started a 14-6 run with her first basket of the game. Johnson had nine points during that spurt, including a 3-pointer which made it 37-34 and gave the Fever their first lead since early in the first quarter.

That shot capped a 9-0 burst in the run and brought the crowd of 16,332 fans, which included Paul George and many members of the Indiana Pacers, to their feet. George, C.J. Miles and Pacers coach Frank Vogel bought 1,500 tickets for this game for fans.

Indiana led 42-38 at the half.

During the second quarter Indiana honored former stars Katie Douglas and Tammy Sutton-Brown, who helped the Fever win their lone title in 2012. They were given framed pictures during a timeout in the second quarter.

 

Gritty Fever top Lynx 75-69 in Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Leave a comment

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Briann January had 19 points and six assists and the Indiana Fever stole home-court advantage in the WNBA Finals with a 75-69 victory over the Minnesota Lynx in Game 1 on Sunday.

Marissa Coleman added 16 points and the Fever hit all 16 of their free throws in a rematch of the 2012 finals. Indiana won Game 1 of that series as well en route to the franchise’s only championship.

Maya Moore had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Sylvia Fowles add 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lynx. But Minnesota missed eight free throws and turned the ball over 15 times to drop the opener.

Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

Veteran Tamika Catchings had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Fever, who never got rattled by Minnesota’s boisterous home crowd.

The Lynx were 19-2 at Target Center in their playoff history, the best winning percentage in the WNBA. One of those defeats came at the hands of the Fever in Game 1 of the 2012 finals.

This one followed a similar script, with the determined and gritty Fever absorbing several haymakers from the Lynx and pushing back each time.

January – the tough-as-nails daughter of a karate instructor who has a black belt herself – led the way. She knocked down two tough jumpers late in the third quarter when the Lynx had pulled within four points and was right there in the end to ice it.

After the Lynx charged back to take a 62-61 lead with 4:28 to play, Coleman hit a 3 and scored on a backdoor cut off an inbounds pass. Then January crossed over Anna Cruz, Minnesota’s best perimeter defender, for a layup and a 68-63 lead.

January added another pull-up jumper before fouling out with 1:12 to play, and the Fever closed out another gutsy road victory.

Seimone Augustus had a quiet nine points on 3-for-11 shooting and Lindsay Whalen only attempted three shots for Minnesota.

The Lynx are playing in their fourth finals in the last five years. They have won two championships, but were stunned by the Fever in 2012, a loss that ultimately prevented what could have been a run of three straight titles. After losing to Phoenix in the Western Conference finals last season, the Lynx avenged the defeat by sweeping the Mercury in the conference finals this year to set up a rematch with the only team to beat them in the finals.

A ragged first quarter ended 10-10, but Moore got going in the second quarter to spark the Lynx. She scored on a finger roll, a steal and a pretty hesitation drive to the basket and also set a great screen to free up Fowles for another layup that gave them a 26-21 lead in the second quarter.

But the Fever weren’t about to back down.

January scored seven straight Indiana points, Catchings got on the board after an 0-for-4 start and Erlana Larkins beat the buzzer with a layup to give Indiana a 35-29 lead at the break.