MINNEAPOLIS — These WNBA Finals are not for the feeble. Seimone Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx toughened up after a rare loss and a soft performance at home in the opener by wearing down the Indiana Fever.
Augustus scored 23 of her 27 points in the second half to help the Lynx surge past the Fever, 83-71, on Wednesday night to even the WNBA finals at one game apiece.
“We’re going all out. We don’t want to look back on this situation and regret anything,” Augustus said.
Maya Moore pitched in 23 points, and the defending-champion Lynx forced the Fever into 24 turnovers, 15 after halftime. Tamika Catchings led the way for Indiana with 27 points and eight rebounds, but the Fever’s defense faded after a dominant start. The Lynx score 29 points in the third quarter that brought an already-loud crowd into the game even more.
Catchings offered an alternate theory, though.
“Seimone Augustus went against us. That’s what happened,” she said.
The series moves to Indiana for Game 3 on Friday, and an even more physical match could be in the offing.
“It was pretty rough out there, and we’re going to have to adapt to that,” said Fever coach Lin Dunn, who called this the most physical game she’s seen in 42 years. “We’ll go home and we’ll be ready.”
Augustus, named to the All-WNBA first team earlier in the day for the first time in her well-decorated career, swished a 3-pointer with about 6 minutes left to give the Lynx a 71-57 lead, their biggest to that point after the sluggish beginning. Augustus missed six of her eight shots in the first half.
The third quarter was extra tight, plenty physical and increasingly testy. After Lindsay Whalen tied the game at 48 with a reverse layup, Moore picked up her third foul on the other end. Whalen’s layup was blocked by Briann January when the Lynx got the ball back, and coach Cheryl Reeve’s gamelong lobbying for more calls to go her team’s way boiled over.
Screaming for a whistle after her miss, Whalen was slapped with a technical foul by official Michael Price, who quickly tacked one on for Reeve. Then the coach really lost it, tearing her suit coat off and trying to escape assistant coach Jim Peterson’s long arms as he held her back from further confronting the refs.
Catchings made both free throws to give the Fever a two-point lead, but the Lynx were fired up after that. Rebekkah Brunson soared for a rebound she tipped to Moore to retain possession. Moore pump faked then dribbled in for a layup that drew a foul, and swished the free throw for a 57-55 lead. Augustus added a 3-pointer near the end of the quarter for good measure.
Whalen had the look in her eyes that she wasn’t going to let this one slip away, making a pull-up jumper early in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to six and following that with a 3-pointer to put the Lynx up 66-57 with 7:21 left.
The Fever played without shooting guard Katie Douglas for the second straight game due to a sprained left ankle. Backup Jeanette Pohlen hurt her left knee and was taken to the locker room for further examination. She didn’t return, and the lack of depth hurt the Fever down the stretch.
The Lynx held a 24-3 edge in second-chance points and 17-2 advantage in offensive rebounds.