MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Seimone Augustus had 22 points and the Minnesota Lynx beat the San Antonio Silver Stars 85-67 on Tuesday night for the first playoff series victory in franchise history.
Rebekkah Brunson added 15 points and nine rebounds and Maya Moore had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Lynx, who advance to play the Phoenix Mercury in the Western Conference finals. Game 1 is Thursday in Minnesota.
Sophia Young scored 17 points for the Silver Stars on 7-of-8 shooting. San Antonio turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 24 Lynx points, and was outrebounded 36-21.
Becky Hammon added 15 points and five assists, but she was the only other Stars player in double figures.
The Lynx, who own home-court advantage throughout the playoffs after dominating the league during a 27-7 regular season, finally gave the tortured sports fans of Minnesota something to cheer about. The Vikings and Timberwolves were last-place teams and the Twins have the worst record in the American League.
So the fans are starting to rally around the Lynx, who finished six games better than any other team in the WNBA.
In the deciding Game 3, the Lynx overcame an uncharacteristically quiet game from star point guard Lindsay Whalen, who finished with four points and three assists. The hometown girl didn’t make her first shot until early in the fourth quarter, but she had plenty of help.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin scored 16 points and the Lynx shot 51 percent from the game to turn a tense game in the first quarter into a rout.
The Lynx got off to another slow start in this one, falling behind 10-2 in the first three minutes against a Silver Stars team that gave them more trouble than any other team during their dominant regular season. San Antonio lost all four games in the season series, but twice took them down to the buzzer.
It was more of the same in the first two games of the playoffs, with Whalen getting a steal on an inbounds pass at the end of Game 1 to preserve a 66-65 victory before the Silver Stars cruised to an 84-75 win in Game 2 in San Antonio.
The Target Center crowd, stung by a long history of big-game disappointments from its other pro sports teams, started to get a little nervous as the team that steamrolled the league during the regular season struggled to hit shots and get stops early.
The Lynx shrugged off a 1-for-5 start to rip off runs of 10-0 and 17-0 over the next 11 minutes to build a 35-22 lead. McWilliams-Franklin, the 41-year-old center and emotional leader, got the team started, hitting a pair of jumpers from the left wing and diving on the floor to secure a loose ball and inject some much-needed energy.
Minnesota and Phoenix played five times in the regular season, with the Lynx holding a 3-2 series lead. Thursday night’s game will be on ESPN2.
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