At least one person among the reported sellout crowd of 12,832 knew the host Minnesota Lynx would win Tuesday night by at least double figures.
“I had predicted [earlier that day] that we would win by 12,” noted Tonyus Chavers to the MSR after the Lynx’s 79-60 victory over Los Angeles to even the series at one win apiece.
Unlike the finals opener — where both teams see-sawed throughout the game until the Sparks prevailed with a two-point win — Minnesota took control in the second quarter. With the score tied at 22 just past the five minute mark, Maya Moore’s 23-footer sparked a 17-3 run to close the quarter and take a 39-25 halftime lead. Four L.A. turnovers in that stretch also played a factor in the run.
“I am so thrilled right now,” said Chavers, who offered us a quick halftime analysis. The Sparks, however, didn’t go away quietly after halftime — a Candace Parker layup closed the gap to 44-41 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
“They put in some tough shots [but] I thought tonight we stayed with it more,” said Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen. But a put back and one by Sylvia Fowles sparked an 8-0 home team run to push the lead back to double figures and the visitors never got any closer. “We needed a big win like that,” said Chavers afterwards.
Four Minnesota starters finished in double figures, led by Moore’s 21. Fowles had her second double-double of the series (13 points, 15 rebounds along with four assists); 14 points from Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson chipped in 10.
Unlike Game 1, where Minnesota’s vaulted bench was virtually non-existent, the reserves fired in 14 points, five assists, four steals and only two turnovers.
“I just try to do what needed to be done,” said Minnesota center Janel McCarville, who led the reserves with two big jump shots from 16 and 20 feet out respectively in the final two minutes of the first quarter that gave the Lynx a brief lead going into the quarter break. “Those were valuable points,” remarked Whalen, who also played with Big Mac in college.
Ultimately, it was their defense, limiting Los Angeles to around 33 percent shooting, and 15 percent from behind the arc stepped up in a huge way, said Lynx Assistant Coach Jim Petersen afterwards.
Now as a result, Minnesota snatched back home court before the two clubs head for Hollywood for Games 3 and 4 (Friday and Sunday).
“We take a lot of pride here,” added Brunson, whose eight rebounds helped Minnesota’s 46-32 boards. “We played great team defense and team offense,” surmised Whalen.
“A great team effort,” concluded Chavers.
Read our continuous coverage of the 2016 WNBA Finals on MSR News Online.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.