PHOENIX (AP) — Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 21 points, six rebounds and seven assists to lead the Minnesota Lynx past the Phoenix Mercury 103-86 Sunday to advance to the WNBA finals for the first time.
Maya Moore had 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Minnesota, which needed three games to eliminate San Antonio in the first round before sweeping the Mercury in the Western Conference finals.
The Lynx await the winner of the Indiana-Atlanta series that will be decided on Tuesday night. The final series begins Oct. 2 in Minnesota, which had the league’s best record in the regular season.
Diana Taurasi had 22 points for the Mercury, who were swept in the West finals by eventual champion Seattle a year ago.
The Lynx led by just three in the first minute of the fourth quarter but Candice Wiggins hit a pair a free throws and Moore made a 3-pointer, sparking a 15-5 run and Phoenix did not get closer the rest of the way.
DeWanna Bonner had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Candice Dupree had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Mercury.
Lindsay Whalen added 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Seimone Augustus added 16 points for Minnesota, which had been in the postseason twice before — losing in the first round in 2003 and 2004.
Phoenix was in the conference finals for the third straight year and fourth in five years. The Mercury won the WNBA title in 2007 and 2009.
Minnesota had won three of five meetings with Phoenix during the regular season.
The Lynx used a 15-4 run in the first quarter to take a 24-20 lead but Phoenix started the second period on a 9-1 run to regain the lead.
Taurasi had 12 points while Bonner had 10 points and six rebounds to lead the Mercury to a 45-43 lead at the break.
McWilliams-Franklin and Whalen each had 11 points for the Lynx, who made 19 of 37 shots from the field in the first half but just 4 of 9 free throws.
The Lynx opened up a seven-point lead in the third before Taurasi converted a three-point play in the final seconds of the quarter and then hit a leaner 18 seconds into the final period to cut the Lynx lead to 70-67.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)