Finals Recap: Fever 52, Lynx 69 (Game 5)

Finals Recap: Lynx 69, Fever 52

October 14, 2015 – Sylvia Fowles scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Lynx past the Indiana Fever and clinch 2015 WNBA Championship, 69-52.

MINNEAPOLIS – The Fever were a team that had been pushed to the brink of elimination and survived a WNBA-record five times in the 2015 Playoffs, but the sixth and final attempt at staving off elimination in a series-deciding Game 5 on the road in Minnesota was not to be, as the Fever fell 52-69 in the final game of the WNBA season.

Despite holding the Lynx to just 27 points after two quarters, the Fever were unable to withstand Minnesota runs of 9-0, 10-2, and 8-2. During the stretches of play in which the Lynx seemed to have an answer for every Fever possession, Indiana suffered two field goal droughts that lasted over five minutes. In addition to their shooting struggles, Indiana turned the ball over a postseason-high 21 times.

Photo Gallery: Fever Fall to Lynx 69-52 in Game 5 »

The problems started early for the Fever, as they were challenged inside by the rebounding efforts of Lynx forwards Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson, who combined for 25 rebounds in the game. Fowles — who only played 18 minutes in Game 4 due to foul trouble — led all Lynx scorers with 20 points.

“This was a team that was on a mission and they played like it,” Fever head coach Stephanie White said of the Lynx. “They’ve been one of the premier teams in the league for a long time and tonight you saw a reason why.”

For the Fever, who were in their third WNBA Finals appearance, the road loss in front of a deafening Minnesota crowd will be remembered as a stinging one, in which the feisty Lynx defense forced Indiana into an uncharacteristically sloppy game.

Briann January, who had scored 19, 17, 15, and 13 in Games 1-through-4 of the Finals, accounted for 13 on the night. Marissa Coleman, a sharpshooter throughout the series, went 1-of-8 on the night. And Tamika Catchings, playing in her penultimate season before retirement, recorded a double-double but finished the night making five field goals on 16 attempts.

“No matter what happened tonight, I was going to be proud of this group,” Catchings said. “It’s been an amazing journey this year.”

At the beginning of the game, the Fever withstood a 9-0 Lynx run in the first quarter, answering with back-to-back 3-pointers from Catchings and January, which helped put the Fever up by two after one quarter of play.

However, in the second frame, it took the Fever six minutes to get on the board, with Catchings — who had eight first-half rebounds — driving the lane to get Indiana back on track. Thankfully for the Fever, their defense was stout as well, holding the Lynx to just 12 points in the quarter, which led to Indiana trailing 27-21 at halftime.

But in the second half, Minnesota’s offense stormed ahead, leading by as much as 21 in the fourth quarter. With every Lynx basket came another cascade of applause from the crowd at the Target Center, as the clock continued to wind down towards the end of the season.

“We just lost our flow,” said January, sitting at her locker. “We allowed turnovers for their scores and gave them a run. Allowed them to get some easy buckets; combined that with some defensive breakdowns and it just kind of gave them a run. And in games like this it’s hard to dig yourself out of a hole.”

Until Wednesday night, the Fever’s playoff run had been nothing short of magical; with rookie head coach Stephanie White winning two straight games against the East’s defending champion Sky, and winning another two straight to down the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded team in the New York Liberty.

Although the Fever swiped Game 1 at the Target Center, the Lynx were able to return the favor by winning two in a row, including one at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. However, on Sunday evening in Indianapolis, the Fever blew past the Lynx with little resistance in a 75-69 tilt that knotted the series at two apiece, setting up Wednesday’s deciding Game 5, which ultimately went the way of the Lynx in the season’s final game.

October 14, 2015 – After the Fever’s 2015 season came to an end with a loss in Game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals, All-Star forward Tamika Catchings reflects on what made this group so special.

October 14, 2015 – Fever point guard Briann January discusses Indiana’s 69-52 loss to Minnesota in Game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals and reflects on a special season.

October 14, 2015 – Fever head coach Stephanie White addresses the media after her team’s 69-52 loss to the Minnesota Lynx in Game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals.

October 14, 2015 – Fever players Tamika Catchings and Briann January speak with the media after their 69-52 loss to the Minnesota Lynx in Game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals.