Sylvia Fowles leads Minnesota Lynx to 4th WNBA title
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Lynx are no strangers to celebration. Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and a proud core have danced in the confetti and bathed in bubbly four times now.
Boring? Hardly. If anything, the champagne tastes sweeter than ever.
Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and broke her own WNBA Finals record by grabbing 20 rebounds to lead the Lynx to their fourth championship in seven years with an 85-76 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
“I think every time you do this, it gets a little more special because it gets a little harder,” Whalen said.
Moore had 18 points and 10 rebounds and hit a huge runner with 26 seconds to play, Whalen had 17 points and eight assists and Seimone Augustus added 14 points, six assists and six boards to help the Lynx move into a tie with the Houston Comets for most titles in league history. The Lynx staved off elimination twice in this series, winning Games 4 and 5, and avenged a last-second loss to the Sparks in Minnesota last season that prevented them from making history a year sooner.
Candace Parker had 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists for the Sparks, who were looking to become the first repeat champions in 15 years. Chelsea Gray had 15 points and eight assists, but Nneka Ogwumike fouled out with 5:29 to play and finished with 11 points. Los Angeles turned it over 17 times.
With a team that had the makings of a new dynasty bearing down on it, the Lynx responded to reassert their own. They have been in the finals in six of the last seven years and now find themselves in the company of Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and the Comets that dominated the league’s early days.
The game the Lynx rule now is bigger, faster and deeper and the proud core of Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Augustus and Whalen have had to earn everything they’ve accomplished. They led by 12 in the third quarter, but Los Angeles pushed right back, trimming the deficit to four at the start of the fourth.
The Lynx looked to have things in control when Augustus’s jumper gave them a 79-67 lead that lasted until Jantel Lavender’s layup with 90 seconds to go. But Riquna Williams hit two free throws and Sims had two steals for layups, one of which she converted for a three-point play to pull Los Angeles to 79-76 with 35 seconds to go.