By Allie Krings
Minneapolis, MN -- Though the Los Angeles Sparks managed to contain the Minnesota Lynx and Sylvia Fowles, in Game 1 of the Finals, they would not in Game 2.
The crowd at Williams Arena was deafening, reminding the Lynx where they belonged, as they shouted “Who’s House?” and responding, “Our House!”, and the Lynx managed to redeem themselves with a victory over the Sparks, 70-68.
Minnesota guard Lindsey Whalen felt right at home, playing at her alma mater's home court (University of Minnesota), and immediately put up a quick two points on a layup. The Sparks' Chelsea Gray was still hot from last game and responded with a three-pointer to take the lead for the last time in the first half. After a Whalen jumper, the game quickly turned into the Sylvia Fowles show.
Last time out, Fowles did not get established in the paint early in the game -- Tuesday was a much different narrative.
Almost two minutes into the game, Fowles had pulled down three rebounds -- Sunday night she didn’t have any rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play. Immediately after her first offensive rebound, she scored a lay-up to tally her first points of the night.
Before the end of the second stanza, the MVP of the league had already earned herself a double-double tying a WNBA Finals game record with 10 first-half rebounds. Little did fans know though, she was not done by tying the record — Fowles broke the record.
She finished with 17 rebounds, breaking Taj McWilliams-Franklin's Finals record from 2005, when she had 16 boards for Connecticut.
“Syl, she does so many things for us,” praised teammate Maya Moore on Fowles’ performance. “She has our back in so many ways, whether it’s protecting the paint, and cleaning up defensive rebounds (14 on the night). That’s such a huge part of winning a championship is being able to get those defensive rebounds.”
The Lynx are in pursuit of another championship and the hunger was displayed Tuesday night, especially in the MVP.
“I’m glad she was able to show out for the biggest stage and get recognized for it because it is so important,” Moore said in awe of Fowles’ aggressive and dominant rebounding performance.
At the half, the Lynx led, 45-26 thanks to the MVP’s contributions. The Sparks desperately needed to contain Fowles in the second half if they wanted to truly compete.
Los Angeles head coach Brian Agler said his team needed to be more proactive on her, and they were. Fowles did not snag a rebound or put up additional points for the first five minutes of the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Sparks, the Lynx roster is stacked full of playmakers who can shine if another is locked up.
Even though Los Angeles able to contain Fowles better in the third — she got right back to work in the fourth period, pulling down more rebounds over multiple defenders.
“That’s what she’s capable of every night,” shared Cheryl Reeve after the win. “It’s got to be top of her mind. She rebounded hard. She got hard ones in traffic. It’s every bit of what we needed.”
It was late in the game when Fowles came up with a monster block on Essence Carson, then she grabbed the ball before passing it to a teammate – her record-breaking rebound.
“I know what I can do and how I can get it done,” the MVP said on her new record. “I think coach showed me some film on some possessions where I could have had some rebounds. I kept that at the forefront of my brain. I was like ok, make sure you crash the boards. If you can’t get it, still crash the boards. I think that’s why I was so successful tonight.”
Multiple players responded for Minnesota, however, the MVP was a catalyst to the team snagging the victory to even the series up. Yet, at the end of the day, there is another game on Friday, which Fowles already has her mind on.
“Same mindset. Probably change up a few things and look at where we went wrong to let L.A. get back in the game,” Fowles stated looking ahead to Game 3. “We definitely need to work on our offense because I think we had some lulls in the third quarter where we couldn’t get our offensive flow. Things like that we’ll focus on.”
Along with her 17 rebounds, Fowles also posted 13 points, four steals, and two blocks.