Seimone Augustus scored 23 of her 27 points in the second half to help the Minnesota Lynx surge past the Indiana Fever 83-71 on Wednesday night to even the WNBA finals at one game apiece.
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 as usual with 27 points and eight rebounds, but the Fever's defense faded after a dominant start. They let the Lynx score 29 points in the third quarter and bring an already-loud crowd into the game even more.
The series now moves to Indiana. Game 3 is on Friday and Game 4 is on Sunday.
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, who missed six of her eight shots in the first half, flashed a big smile toward her teammates as they retreated on defense.
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 game-long 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.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, decked out in a black and green Lynx jacket, agreed with Reeve from across the court, dismissively waving his hand in disgust at the officiating crew.
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 period 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 Lynx, who shot a WNBA-best 47.3 percent from the field during the regular season, lost their touch in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and still couldn't find it in the first quarter of this contest.
They started the game 3 for 14, avoiding a blowout only because of 3-pointers made on the left wing by Whalen and Moore. Whalen finally ended the skid with a pull-up jumper that cut the lead to 18-11 after she tipped a rebound to herself to keep their last possession of the period alive.
The Fever played without shooting guard Katie Douglas for the second straight game, the sprained left ankle she suffered at the end of the Eastern Conference Finals still not ready for action. Then in the second quarter of this one, backup Jeanette Pohlen hurt her left knee and was taken to the locker room for further examination. She didn't return.
After owning the post with Catchings and Erlana Larkins in Game 1, the Fever again held Brunson and Taj McWilliams-Franklin to minimal production. But the Lynx pair played tough defense of their own, limiting Larkins to three points on 1 for 6 shooting. She had 16 points and 15 rebounds in the opener.