MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.-- For the fourth time in seven years, the Minnesota Lynx are WNBA champions.
Much like last year’s contest, the 2017 WNBA Finals between the Lynx and the L.A. Sparks came down to the final minute.
The Lynx seemingly had the game put away with a 79-67 lead with 90 seconds to go in the contest.
L.A. remained in the fight, however, despite last year’s league MVP Nneka Ogwumike fouling out with just over five minutes to go. The Sparks stormed back to go on a 9-0 run in a 57-second span, and narrowed Minnesota’s lead to just three points with 35 seconds to play.
Maya Moore then did what she does best: ice the game.
On the very next possession, Moore came down and nailed a floater at the foul line to make it a two-possession game with under 30 seconds to go. From there, L.A. was forced to foul, and Minnesota walked away with an 85-76 win.
For Minnesota, this win represents something that they have been chasing over the past year. In 2016, the Lynx lost on their home court in a Game 5 that will go down in history as L.A. won their first title in 15 seasons.
Everything that the Lynx did in the 2017 season, (including finishing with the best regular-season record in the league) they did chasing the demons from last October.
In this year’s Game 5, the effort from Minnesota’s veteran-heavy core was unparalleled.
All of Minnesota’s starters finished in double-digits for points, while both Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles ended the evening with double-doubles. Fowles, the 2017 Finals MVP, had 17 points and a Finals record 20 rebounds (a record that she herself set at 17 earlier in the series), while Moore had a team-high 18 points and 10 boards.
Lindsay Whalen recorded 17 points and a team-high eight assists. Seimone Augustus added 14 points while Rebekkah Brunson rounded out the Minnesota starters with 13 points and eight boards.
“We knew it was going to come down to our starters and their starters,” Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Obviously that was how the series was defined. We also thought getting off to a good start was important.”
It was clear that one of the demons that continued to haunt the Lynx concerning Game 5 of the 2016 WNBA Finals was missed rebounds down the stretch that turned the tide of the game.
On Wednesday night, the Lynx absolutely destroyed the Sparks on the boards, outrebounding them, 46-29; in fact, the duo of Fowles and Moore outrebounded L.A. on their own.
Minnesota also did a fantastic job on the offensive glass, grabbing 14 boards to give themselves second, and sometimes even third chances, compared to just seven total for the Sparks.
“If I didn't do anything else, I just wanted to make it my business to make sure I just go out there and rebound, and that was my downfall last year,” Fowles said. “I fell on the court, that haunted me for a long time after Game 5 last year. I just wanted to come in and I wanted to show my presence, and if that was rebounding, then rebounding it was.”
Candace Parker led the valiant effort for L.A. with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Chelsea Gray added 15 points and eight assists, while Odyssey Sims added 14 and Ogwumike added 11.
All in all, these two teams once again provided fans with a Finals to remember and the best this game has to offer.
And for Minnesota, the demons of 2016 no longer matter.