Finals Recap: Fever 71, Lynx 77 (Game 2)

Fever vs Lynx

October 6, 2015 – The Minnesota Lynx defeated the Indiana Fever, 77-71, and evened the WNBA Finals series at 1-1.

MINNEAPOLIS — Foul trouble and turnovers doomed the Indiana Fever in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, as they fell to the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday night at the Target Center, 77-71. The best-of-five series now shifts back to Indianapolis tied at 1-1.

Sylvia Fowles had 21 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota and Maya Moore added 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals for the victors.

But in many ways it was what the Fever did wrong rather than what the Lynx did right that ultimately made the difference on Tuesday.

PHOTO GALLERY: Fever 71, Lynx 77 (Game 2) ยป

All-Star Tamika Catchings picked up three fouls in the first half and had five midway through the third quarter, a major blow to the Fever. Catchings still was able to play the entire fourth quarter, but struggled to develop a rhythm.

Turnovers ultimately spoiled the Fever’s comeback hopes, as 14 of their 17 turnovers came after halftime. The Fever turned the ball over seven times each in both the third and fourth quarters, including on a crucial late possession down three points, when the Lynx’s defense forced Indiana into a shot clock violation with 56.5 seconds remaining.

Minnesota corralled an offensive rebound on the next possession and Anna Cruz knocked down two free throws to effectively seal the victory.

Fever point guard Briann January led Indiana with 17 points and five assists, though she also had five turnovers. Catchings added 11 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in 24 minutes, but was 3-for-10 from the field and had six giveaways.

“As a team, we lost our poise, we lost our composure,” Catchings said after the loss. “We’re too good for that. We’re too good of a team to let things like that deter us in what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Indiana had assumed control early on Tuesday night, reeling off a 14-2 run to take an 18-8 lead. The Lynx responded by scoring on their next six possessions to stay within striking distance.

The Fever suffered a major setback when Catchings picked up her third foul with 7:15 remaining in the second quarter. The All-Star forward would end up sitting the rest of the half and failed to score in just eight minutes of action in the first two periods.

But in Catchings’ absence, other Fever players rose to the occasion. January picked up where she left off in Game 1, reeling off 11 points (on 5-of-9 shooting) and dishing out four assists in the first half. Marissa Coleman added eight early points and Erlana Larkins had six points and five rebounds.

But most impressively, Indiana got 10 first-half points from seldom-used reserves. Second-year forward Natasha Howard came on in relief of Catchings and scored six points, making both her field goal attempts and both her free throws. Fellow second-year player Maggie Lucas converted a four-point play with 2.6 seconds left in the half off a nice drive-and-kick from January to give the visitors a 41-39 halftime lead.

Catchings finally got things going offensively for Indiana in the third quarter, scoring seven quick points as the Fever started the second half on an 11-4 run.

But Minnesota responded with a 13-2 spurt of their own, with 6-6 center Fowles scoring at will in the post and wings Seimone Augustus and Moore attacking the basket. Moore delivered a huge blow when she drove to the basket and drew Catchings’ fifth foul with 4:13 still to play in the third. The 2014 WNBA MVP knocked down both free throws to tie the game and Minnesota took the lead on Augustus’ layup 22 seconds later.

With the Fever trailing, head coach Stephanie White elected to sub Catchings back into the game for the start of the fourth quarter. Indiana managed to climb to within two points on two occasions, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.

Fowles in particular was huge for the hosts, converting 10-of-13 shots and aiding Minnesota to a 40-26 advantage in points in the paint.

“Sylvia’s a beast,” White said. “She’s one of those players that…that the only player that limits (her) is herself. With that body, with that athleticism, with how quick she is up in the air, she should dominate.”

Fever guard Shenise Johnson scored 10 points, reaching double figures for the seventh time in eight games this postseason, but left the game after being shaken up by a screen with 4:06 to play. Johnson received a technical foul and did not return the rest of the game. White was unsure of Johnson’s status immediately following the loss.

Game 3 is Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 8:00 PM ET. Game 4 on Sunday is now necessary and will tip off at 8:30 PM ET.

Postgame Videos

October 6, 2015 – Fever head coach Stephanie White discusses Indiana’s 77-71 loss to the Minnesota Lynx in Game 2 of the 2015 WNBA Finals.

October 6, 2015 – October 6, 2015 – Fever players Tamika Catchings and Briann January addressed the media following their Game 2 loss in Minnesota.

October 6, 2015 – Minnesota Lynx players Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles gave remarks after their Game 2 victory over the Fever.

October 6, 2015 – Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve spoke to the media after her team’s 77-71 Game 2 victory over the Fever.

October 6, 2015 – Highlights of Fever point guard Briann January’s 17 points in Indiana’s 77-71 Game 2 loss in Minnesota.

October 6, 2015 – Fever point guard Briann January drives and kicks to Maggie Lucas, who buries a 3-pointer and draws a foul in the left corner to give Indiana the lead heading into halftime of Game 2 of the 2015 WNBA Finals in Minnesota.