Game Two of the WNBA Finals was different than Game 1: Unlike Sunday’s contest, where the home team were seemingly looking for a jump start — as well as a jump shot — the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday found something a bit more lasting — intensity.
“The intensity we came out within the second half, I don’t think we had any lows,” noted Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles to the MSR, before the media horde arrived in the locker room.
Fowles celebrated both her 30th birthday and her team tying up the best-of-five championship series at a game apiece, with a 21-point performance to lead all scorers in the Lynx’s 77-71 victory.
The home sellout crowd of 12,134 afterwards sang Happy Birthday to the 6-6 center, which she seemed to greatly appreciate. When asked if Minnesota approached the contest as a pseudo-elimination game, Fowles replied, “We don’t think about it that way. Our main focus was to win. Our home crowd deserves the home court advantage.”
“Sylvia is a beast,” said Indiana Coach Stephanie White afterwards. “The only person that stops her is herself.” As with the first game, both teams never got too far away from the other. But unlike the first game, Minnesota stayed close enough for two quarters and a half, and eventually took the lead with about four minutes left in the third quarter, and never relinquished it.
Although no team hit a basket after the five minute mark, a Rebekkah Brunson layup for Minnesota and a driving layup by Shenise Johnson for Indiana competed the outside scoring. Then the final five minutes instead became a series of missed shots, made free throws, turnovers and two Fever technical fouls.
The visitors also became uncharacteristically unraveled, while the hosts stayed intensely focused but calm.
“We got mauled. We got passive,” bemoaned White, who publicly complaining of the bad officiating — the Fever drew two technical fouls in the last four minutes of Tuesday’s contest.
“Intensity got the best of the Fever,” said Swish Appeal’s Adrienne Thomas in her quick post-game analysis to the MSR.
“We were [too] amped up then mellowed out,” added Devereaux Peters. “We came out super aggressive.”
Starting guard Lindsay Whalen gave credit to the three Lynx reserves — Peters and Anna Cruz [six points apiece] and Renee Montgomery [two points]. What they didn’t supply in points, they did in intensity.
Both Montgomery and Cruz were “very irritating,” said White, who especially called out Cruz, who “never got tired” in harassing the Fever guards. “Our bench was amazing,” said Whalen proudly.
The series shifts to Indianapolis — Game Three is Friday, 7:00 pm CDT.
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Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.