Indianapolis — A tip-in from Erlana Larkins with 8.2 seconds left lifted the Indiana Fever over the top-ranked Minnesota Lynx 84-82 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday night. A season-high 31 points from Candice Dupree and foul trouble throughout for Sylvia Fowles were the remedy for an upset.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Indiana as they improved to 9-17 to stay within playoff conversation. It was just Minnesota’s third loss of the season snapping a seven-game win streak as the Lynx fall to 20-3.
“I was proud of the way we held our composure,” Dupree said. “We actually played defense for an entire 40 minutes, regardless of what was going on on the offensive end.”
Dupree garnered nine rebounds alongside her 31 points on 15-for-21 shooting. Her 15 field goals were a career-high. She fell just one point shy of her previous career-high with 32 points.
Briann January added 14 points and six assists while backcourt partner Erica Wheeler tallied nine points and seven assists. Tiffany Mitchell added eight points and eight boards, as well.
Maya Moore led the charge for the Lynx with 28 points, six rebounds and three assists. Rebekkah Brunson carded 15 points and 12 rebounds in light of Fowles’ prolonged absence. Selmone Augustus added 16 points while Fowles still notched six points and eight rebounds in limited minutes.
Indiana brought high energy from tip to finish. They jumped out to a 10-4 lead and set the tone for the evening defensively. The Fever claimed seven assists on seven made field goals in the opening period. Minnesota quickly responded, but two first-quarter fouls by Fowles sidelined the Lynx’ post presence early on.
Fowles picked up her third personal foul and an ensuing technical foul early in the second quarter in a tied game. She did not return until the second half and recorded just two points in eight minutes of action in the first half.
On the following possession, Dupree converted a hard-earned and-one to reignite the Indiana offense. The score remained deadlocked through most of the second period. Minnesota took a 38-35 into the half.
Fowles picked up her fourth personal and a return trip to the bench in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Despite her absence, the Lynx edged the Fever by one in the third period.
A 14-2 Fever run in the middle of the fourth quarter was the turning point in the game as Indiana went from down six to up six (70-64) with 5:23 remaining.
Leading 77-73, back-to-back Fever turnovers led to two layups for Moore, tying the score at 77 apiece with 1:30 left on the clock.
Both teams traded baskets before Indiana went back to Dupree in the post to give the Fever an 81-79 edge, but Augustus connected on a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left to give Minnesota the 82-81 lead.
On Indiana’s last possession, a three-point attempt from Marissa Coleman was deflected and fell short to Larkins who tipped in the game-winning basket with 8.2 seconds left.
“I saw it get partially blocked,” Larkins said. “I saw Sylvia [Fowles] out of the corner of my eye. I thought ‘if I come down with this ball, she’s going to block it.’ I just caught it in the air and shot it off the glass.”
Minnesota’s final play was a contested attempt from Augustus that didn’t draw iron. A Minnesota foul gave January an additional free throw before the clock expired.
“They’re a tough team, they’re going to make tough shots,” Fever head coach Pokey Chatman said. “Even when we struggled a little bit, we didn’t let our defensive energy lapse. It was fitting that we ended the game with a big stop.”
Neither team led by more than six in a game that included eight ties and nine lead changes. The Fever defense collected a season-high 14 steals and forced 21 Minnesota turnovers. Indiana assisted on 21-of-34 made field goals in the game, as well.
The Fever win ended a 12-game regular season losing streak to Minnesota; it was Indiana’s first win against the Lynx since June 26, 2011.
The Fever are now just one game back of the playoffs with eight games remaining. They travel to New York to reunite with the Liberty Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.