The Indiana Fever headed to a lively Target Center for the first game against the Minnesota Lynx since the 2012 WNBA Finals. The game also marked the Lynx’ annual Breast Health Awareness Game presented by the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. In support of the foundation Lynx players wore pink jerseys with a white ribbon insignia, which were auctioned off after the game for charity.
The game itself was a back-and-forth; grind it out effort on both ends. With a raucous crowd of 9,504 passionately cheering on the home team, punctuated by a career performance by guard Maya Moore who led the Lynx to an 84-77 win.
Maya Moore excelled within the flow of the offense and found herself completely in the zone as she finished with 35 points on 15-21 from the field. In addition she added 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists, and 2 blocks to what was an overflowing stat line.
“ I think we did about all we could do here tonight against them at home… You can’t fall asleep any possessions with this team because they are so good. I thought Maya played awfully well… Give them credit, they played really well tonight.”
Indiana Fever Head Coach Lin Dunn
This game had all the elements of a playoff battle, including the intensity. Both teams came out hard and refused to give up anything easy. It was clear early in the game that Indiana would try a similar offensive strategy to what they ran during the Finals last season, with a focus on spreading the floor, and shooting from deep.
For the Lynx, the struggle was to maintain their composure, stay within the team’s strategies, finishing plays when given the opportunities, and bounce back after any opposing runs. During the first half, both teams did well in these areas, both teams looked to their key contributors to step up, and there was not much separation on either end as the game went to halftime with a score of 37-35 in favor of the Lynx.
“It has been a while since we had that feeling of back-and-forth, back-and-forth. We would go up seven and then timeout, and then they’d punch and tie the game. We talked about that this is playoff atmosphere. That is what we are going to see, so hanging in there as teams answer and maintaining poise, and make sure to answer their run.”
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve
As the second half kicked into gear it became evident that the Fever would not give up. Indiana forward Tamika Catchings pushed her team into striking position time and time again, with help from guards Shavonte Zellous, and Briann January.
Catchings finished the game with a very respectable 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. While Shavonte Zellous put up 19 points and Briann January added 7 assists.
Despite bringing the score back to a tie on four separate occasions, the Fever failed to establish a lead at any point, and fell to the Lynx as time ran out.
“They made a big push. We made a lot of mental mistakes, turnovers, and missed easy baskets, and they got a lot of transition buckets.”
Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings
Lynx starters Seimone Augustus and Janelle McCarville were instrumental in the victory on both sides of the floor. Augustus scored 17 points on 8-10 shooting, while McCarville finished the night with 12 points on 5-7 including 2 shots from outside, and handed out five assists during the contest.
With the victory Minnesota clinched a playoff berth for the third straight year, and hope to improve their WNBA leading 20-7 record during the final stretch of the season.
“I was just trying to play and stay in the flow of our offense. Janel was giving me great passes, and I can’t say enough about our defense… The key when you are feeling good is to stay composed and stay within yourself.”
Minnesota Lynx guard Maya Moore