Finals Recap: Fever 77, Lynx 80 (Game 3)

Fever vs Lynx

October 9, 2015 – Maya Moore scored 24 points and none more crucial than a three pointer at the buzzer, as the Lynx beat the Fever, 80-77, to go up 2-1 in the WNBA Finals.  The Lynx are now one win away from clinching the 2015 WNBA Championship.

Moore’s Late Heroics Stun Fever in Game 3

INDIANAPOLIS – Minnesota Coach Cheryl Reeve labeled it “one of the best-played WNBA Finals games in our history.”

Every possession rated as precious. Eleven ties and eight lead changes kept a Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd of 16,332 on edge. Great offensive plays, nifty passes and accurate shot-making highlighted the game throughout.

It came down to last year’s Most Valuable Player, Maya Moore, calmly burying a 3-pointer in the final 1.7 seconds after an in-bounds pass from Lindsay Whalen. Reeve compared Moore’s shot to “what you’ve seen in the movies with the ball going through the basket.” It proved to be a horror film for a stunned Fieldhouse crowd and the Indiana Fever, who absorbed a heart-wrenching 80-77 loss.

PHOTO GALLERY: Fever 77, Lynx 80 (Game 3) »

“That was just a great player making a great play at the end of the game,” Indiana Coach Stephanie White said.

The Lynx called a timeout to set up the play after they rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Indiana’s Shenise Johnson. The Fever, in their huddle, planned their defensive strategy, fully expecting Moore to get the ball.

When Whalen passed to Moore, the Fever’s Marissa Coleman quickly got there to defend, but Moore pump-faked. Coleman committed and overran Moore. The Lynx star, who led her team with 24 points, moved slightly to get herself fully open and connected.

“Pretty fun to finish it that way,” Moore said. “Well, 1.7 is a lot of time. …Everything kind of fell into line.”

Minnesota will take a 2-1 lead into Sunday night’s Game 4 of the best-of-five Finals. If the Fever win, they will extend the series to Game 5 on Wednesday night at Minnesota.

Any future Finals meetings will be hard-pressed to match Game 3 for pure, exciting basketball. The Lynx shot 51.6 percent from the field, the Fever 50 percent. Both teams rained in 3-pointers (7-of-13 for Minnesota, 8-of-17 for Indiana).

Moore led five Minnesota players in double-figure scoring. Indiana’s Johnson had 17 points to lead four double-digit scorers for her team.

Indiana took a 77-74 lead when Briann January hit a baseline jumper at the two-minute mark. January continued to have an impressive Finals, recording 15 points and eight assists.

Minnesota’s Renee Montgomery tied it at 77 with 1:11 remaining, hitting a 3-pointer of her own. Montgomery (12 points) and Anna Cruz (10) came off the bench to swing momentum in Minnesota’s favor at numerous times. White called their contributions “huge.”

Indiana had chances to win in the final minute, but January missed a 16-footer and then Johnson missed on the 3-pointer.

“We gave ourselves an opportunity and didn’t capitalize,” White said.

The Fever took a 42-38 lead to the locker room at halftime after hitting Minnesota with a 13-4 run to end the second quarter. Johnson scored 14 first-half points on 6-of-7 shooting. She also turned in four assists on some masterful passing.

But Johnson cooled in the second half, and the Fever team suffered some slippage. Indiana committed eight turnovers after halftime to Minnesota’s two. The Fever shot 46.7 percent to Minnesota’s 54.8.

“We can’t afford to have eight turnovers in the half,” White said. “We did a better job on the boards and still turned it over. We had mental lapses at critical moments.”

Fever forward Tamika Catchings struggled at times, scoring 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, and adding 10 rebounds. She set a WNBA record for most playoff games, competing in her 65th.

“I felt like we did come out and play really, really well,” Catchings said. “And Sunday, we’re going to come out and play even better. …We need to focus on what we need to do to get better.”

October 9, 2015 – Both teams give reactions following the Fever’s 80-77 Game 3 loss to the Lynx on Friday night.

October 9, 2015 – After a buzzer-beating loss to Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, Tamika Catchings and Shenise Johnson gave their reactions to the game.

October 9, 2015 – Minnesota Lynx players Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Devereaux Peters and head coach Cheryl Reeve discuss their 80-77 win over the Indiana Fever in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

October 9, 2015 – Fever guard Shenise Johnson goes up and under for the basket plus the foul in the first quarter of Game 3 of the 2015 WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

October 9, 2015 – Former Fever star Katie Douglas talked to Pat Boylan about life after retirement and what she misses most about playing for the Fever.

October 9, 2015 – Tammy Sutton-Brown, who helped the Fever win their first championship in 2012, spoke with Pat Boylan about that run, and what it’s like to be back in the building. Sutton-Brown and Katie Douglas were honored before the game.

October 9, 2015 – Pat Boylan caught up with Pacers sixth-man Rodney Stuckey, who was enjoying the game with his family, and talked about what the Fever need to do to tilt Game 3 in their favor.

October 9, 2015 – Pat Boylan spoke with C.J. Miles, a Fever season ticket holder, about what he enjoys most about the games, and the experience of watching the team succeed in the postseason.

October 9, 2015 – Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel talked with Pat Boylan about the experience of watching the WNBA Finals from the stands.

October 9, 2015 – Joe Young talks with Pat Boylan about watching the Fever play in the WNBA Finals and the atmosphere at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

October 9, 2015 – At Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, Colts punter Pat McAfee talks to Pat Boylan about why the Fever have become one of his favorite teams in Indy.