One of those teams will add another big trophy to the franchise’s display case after they clash Wednesday in Game 5 of the Finals in Minneapolis.
Indiana used a balanced scoring attack, 25-of-29 free throw accuracy and enough defense to force the Lynx into some poor 4th quarter shots to earn a 75-69 win Sunday night and force a series-deciding Game 5.
Shenise Johnson scored 15 points and pulled down 5 rebounds to lead the Fever. Marissa Coleman scored 14 points, Briann January finished with 13 points and 5 assists and Tamika Catchings had 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a pair of steals.
“We have the heart of a champion — and Tamika Catchings,” said Fever head coach Stephanie White. “I really love this team. I’ve never been around a team that has grown so much in the course of one year. We came out, we competed hard and gave ourselves a chance. We’re happy to be playing another day.”
The Lynx led 20-15 after one quarter, but the Fever stormed back to lead, 36-32, at the half. After Minnesota scored 6 straight points to open the third quarter, Indiana went on a 13-2 run, and continued to expand the lead, pushing it to 58-44 with 1:28 left in the stanza. The 14-point lead is the biggest advantage either team has had in the series.
The Fever made just one basket in the final quarter, a drought that allowed Minnesota to cut the deficit to 73-69 when forward Maya Moore scored an offensive rebound layup off a missed free throw with 16.6 seconds remaining. A pair of free throws by January established the final margin.
Moore topped Minnesota with 20 points and 8 rebounds, 11-year veteran Lindsay Whalen added 16 points and Seimone Augustus scored 10.
Indiana is 5-0 in elimination games during the postseason, a streak Catchings hopes continues. “The place is going to be loud,” she said about Target Center. “But that’s what you play for. That’s what makes it fun for us.”
“It’s been fun playing this series,” January said about the first WNBA Finals to go the entire five games since 2009, when Phoenix defeated the Fever to win the title. “It’s been an honor, but it’s not done. I’m happy to be playing one more game — and it just happens to be for a championship.”
Game 5 begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday and can be seen on ESPN 2.
(Statistics and quotes obtained via WNBA.com)
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