MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Lynx can pull away pretty fast when they start running, so the Indiana Fever knew they had to slow them down to survive on Sunday night.
It took awhile, but Indiana put on the brakes and earned a victory.
Katie Douglas scored 22 points, including the go-ahead basket with just over a minute to play, and the Fever beat the Lynx 78-75.
The Lynx were active on the fast break, outscoring Indiana 13-2 in transition in the first half and putting together a handful of breathtaking rushes and quick passes to erase an early 11-point deficit and take a one-point halftime lead.
“When we get in our half-court defense we have an extreme amount of confidence that we can get stops,” Douglas said. “We don’t have a lot of confidence when the other team is running the ball down our throat. We definitely came in at halftime, made an adjustment and cleaned up the transition.”
Fever coach Lin Dunn said the halftime talk focused on better shot selection to slow down Minnesota’s fast-break offense.
“We were taking some early, long shots and they were rebounding and running. We’d taken 11 3s at halftime and they got 13 transition points off of our long misses,” Dunn said.
The Fever hit four of those 3-pointers in the first half; after the break, they made 4 of 7 from behind the arc. None were bigger than ones Douglas and Tamika Catchings sank on back-to-back possessions to erase a six-point deficit and tie the score at 67 with 5:37 left in the game.
Catchings finished with 17 points, and she and Douglas took over down the stretch, combining to score 15 straight Indiana points starting with those consecutive 3s. Douglas hit a running jump shot from the free-throw line to put Indiana on top 75-73 with 1:06 to go. She later hit one of two free throws to build the Fever lead to three with 20 seconds left.
But Douglas fouled Seimone Augustus on a 3-point shot, giving Minnesota a chance to tie the game at the line with 8.0 seconds left. Augustus missed the first shot, made the second, then tried to miss the third to give her teammates a chance at a game-tying basket. Instead, the ball rattled in.
“That’s just how the game goes sometimes,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “You’re trying to miss and you make it. You’re trying to make it, and you miss. That’s how it goes.”
On the ensuing inbounds play, the Lynx fouled Jeanette Pohlen, who hit two free throws on the other end, and when Lindsay Whalen’s running 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer, the Fever celebrated a comeback victory.
“Minnesota’s got a really, really good team and for us to come in here — after a game last night and flying in this morning — and to play with as much intensity as we did is a real plus,” said Dunn, whose Fever are now 6-3 and sit atop the WNBA Eastern Conference.
Rookie Maya Moore led Minnesota with 21 points, including 17 in the first half, but she ran into foul trouble and missed half of the third quarter, then made just 2 of 6 shots and committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter. But her coach wouldn’t let her shoulder too much of the blame.
“We all took our turns at the end not making plays,” Reeve said. “Maya had a couple of turnovers in there, but there’s nobody that’s harder on Maya than herself.”
Minnesota (5-3) has lost two straight after a five-game winning streak, but guard Candice Wiggins said she didn’t think her team’s confidence had been shattered.
“Our (swagger) hasn’t been shot down — just weakened,” Wiggins said. “In fact, I think teams should fear that because … we have so many weapons and so much confidence.”
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio and his family were among the fans attending the game. He is scheduled to return to Spain on Monday after spending a week in Minnesota ahead of his first NBA season.
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