MINNEAPOLIS, MN — It looked like a repeat of Game 1 early on Tuesday night from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Following its 78-76 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, the Minnesota Lynx looked to avoid starting in a 0-2 series hole.
And while it looked like it would go down to the wire again, several second-half runs pushed the Lynx over the Sparks 79-60 to even the series 1-1.
“We came out with great intensity and kept it the whole game,” said Lynx center Sylvia Fowles. “We set the tone and the pace for the game. [Los Angeles] came out and started to pick it up physically, but I think we handled it very well.”
Things started out just like they did in Game 1, with neither team able to break away in the first quarter. Even in the early minutes of the second quarter, things were still tight. With 4:40 left in the first half, the score was tied up 22-22.
With just three minutes left in the half, Minnesota went on a 12-1 run to pull ahead; it’s largest lead of the game. Heading into the locker room, the Lynx had amassed a 14-point advantage, leading 39-25. Maya Moore, who was held scoreless in the first half of Game 1, led all scorers with 12 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the field.
“I can’t explain it, but that’s what we’re about,” Fowles said of the second quarter run. “We were all on the same page. If we go out there and play like we are capable of playing, good things happen for us.”
The run didn’t stop there. Seimone Augustus added five quick points to start the second half, giving the Lynx a 44-27 lead early in the third quarter.
Quickly, though, Los Angeles turned things around. Capped by a pair of Candace Parker layups and a Kristi Toliver three-pointer, the Sparks went on a 14-0 run to bring the game within three points. Minnesota bounced back slightly through the end of the quarter, taking an eight-point lead going into the final period.
With four minutes left in the game, the Lynx had extended their lead to 11 points, thanks to seven quick points from Augustus. And while the Sparks attempted several runs late, it wasn’t enough. The Lynx held on to take the 19-point win.
Moore led the Lynx with 21 points and 12 rebounds, completing the double-double. Augustus finished with 14 points on the night. Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson also finished in double figures, dropping 13 and 10 points, respectively.
“[Moore] had a double-double, she got rebounds, she made some threes,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. “She was very, very active, and I think Maya had a lot of fun today.”
Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Alana Beard, who was the only other Los Angeles player to finish in double figures, ended with 13 points.
Game 3 of the WNBA Finals will be held at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Friday night.
“The way this series is going, we’ve both won on each other’s home court, so we know they’re capable of beating us on our home court so I don’t think that gives us any type of cushion,” Parker said. “We have to continue to play. We’re playing a good team, so we have to continue to be aggressive.”