Minneapolis, MN — What underdog? The Lynx may have the best record between the two opponents in the WNBA Finals, but anyone doubting Indiana going into game one, was probably quickly silenced soon after tipoff.
The first period of play was all about defense and ended in a tie. As play continued in the first half, it was clear both of these teams are more evenly matched than many spectators may think.
"They are just as good of a road team as we are," explained Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve. There were no surprises coming into this game. For us, it came down to little things.They got to the free throw line and made free throws, and we got to the free throw lines and missed them. These are all things that can be fixed."
"We'll definitely have to clean up on those small things come this week," added Maya Moore. "Free throws and second-chance points are something we normally focus on, and it's definitely something we will have to clean up if we want to beat a really good team that's hungry for a win."
The first half continued with points from Indiana's Marissa Coleman, Briann January, Shenise Johnson, and Tamika Catchings, as wells as Minnesota's Maya Moore and Anna Cruz , both teams going back and forth on the court.
The offense was on fire at both ends, but with plenty of steals and blocks from both teams, it was still a battle of defenses. Eventually, Indiana was able to overpower the Lynx, heading into the locker room with the lead, 35-29.
"Tonight was tough. We knew Minnesota was going to come out and give everything they had," said January. "I'm just so proud of my team, because we stayed together and stayed united."
The Fever's lead remained throughout much of the second half despite a momentum shift thanks to a few free throws from Maya Moore, cutting Indiana's lead to just 3. In the final quarter, the Lynx struggled to get back on top, even with Moore's 27 points and 8 rebounds, as well as Sylvia Fowles 15 points and 9 rebounds.
However, with 4 minutes of play left, two free throws from Seimone Augustus, and a rebound from Maya Moore that lead to a bucket from Fowles, the short-lived lead was given to the Lynx, 62-61. In the end, Indiana remained on top.
"I'm so proud of our team. All season long our greatest strength has been our depth, our perseverance, and our ability to handle adversity. We take care of each other and tonight was no exception," explained Indiana Head Coach Stephanie White.
"Minnesota made their runs, and we knew they were going to make their runs, but we pulled together as a team to get a win on the road, and I'm really really proud of them."
"We will have to come into the next game with a chip on our shoulder too," said Tamika Catchings. "We can't look at this as a series win, and that has always been our mentality. We enjoy the win, but then we move forward to the next game."
Indiana took game 1 with help from Briann January's new season high of 19 points. Game 2 of the WNBA Finals takes place Tuesday in Minneapolis at 8 PM ET.