A new WNBA champion has been crowned.
After losing to Los Angeles in last year’s WNBA Finals and nearly blowing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead, the Minnesota Lynx held on to exact revenge with an 85-76 Game 5 victory over the Sparks Wednesday night. It marks Minnesota’s fourth WNBA championship since 2011.
The Lynx took an early first-quarter lead, and even though they only entered the second quarter up 21-19, Minnesota held the momentum and warded off multiple Los Angeles comeback efforts.
The Lynx controlled the Sparks by controlling the glass
Newly crowned Most Valuable Player Sylvia Fowles absolutely dominated Los Angeles on the glass, grabbing 20 rebounds — including seven offensive boards. In doing so, she broke her own record from Game 2 for most rebounds in a single WNBA Finals game.
Fowles snagged boards she had no business touching and set the tone for the Lynx as a team that would dominate the Sparks in the paint all night. As a team, Minnesota out-rebounded Los Angeles 46-29, including 14-7 on the offensive glass. It’s almost impossible to compete if you’re getting bullied on the boards.
Now, they get to enjoy the taste of sweet vengeance
Wednesday night felt all too familiar for a Lynx team that lost last year’s WNBA Finals at home in Game 5 to the same Sparks team; déjà vu, we can call it.
It was even more grim when Minnesota’s back was against the wall after falling 2-1 with a potential elimination Game 4 on the road. But the Lynx survived Game 4, winning 80-69, then hosted the Sparks in one of the most hostile environments to play in.
All five of Minnesota’s starters scored in double figures, led by Maya Moore’s 18 points and 10 rebounds. Fowles scored 17 points to go along with her 20 rebounds, and Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen combined for 44 points.
Together, the Lynx starters outlasted Los Angeles’ Big 3 of Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray.
It was a roller-coaster ride of a series for a Lynx team that trailed 2-1 then nearly blew its lead in Game 5’s final minutes. But now, Minnesota reigns supreme as the new WNBA champion, even though this feeling is all but new to them.