Augustus, Moore lead Lynx over Dream for WNBA title sweep
Friday, October 7, 2011
ATLANTA (AP) — Seimone Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx completed a near-perfect postseason by beating the Atlanta Dream 73-67 on Friday night to complete a three-game sweep of the WNBA championship series.
Augustus had 16 points and Maya Moore, returning to her Atlanta home, had 15 to lead a balanced scoring attack as the Lynx won their first WNBA title.
Minnesota closed the postseason with six straight wins, including sweeps of Phoenix in the Western Conference finals and Atlanta in the championship series.
Most Minnesota players celebrated in a pile of hugs on the court. Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the 41-year-old starting center, headed to the bench to engulf coach Cheryl Reeve in a hug.
Angel McCoughtry led Atlanta with 22 points. Erika de Souza, who had 11, was Atlanta's only other scorer in double figures.
Rebekkah Brunson had 13 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, while Candice Wiggins had 10 points.
Atlanta was swept by Seattle in the 2010 WNBA finals.
The Dream trailed by eight points in the final quarter before making a late charge.
Two free throws by McCoughtry cut Minnesota's lead to 64-40. Following a turnover, Iziane Castro Marques hit a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the lead to one with 1:17 remaining.
Poor shooting from the field forced Atlanta to foul in the final minute.
Two free throws by McWilliams-Franklin and another free throw by Lindsay Whalen pushed the lead to 67-63. Following a miss by Castro Marques, McWilliams-Franklin added two more free throws with 35 seconds remaining.
McCoughtry had two late layups, but the Dream could come no closer than four points in the final 30 seconds.
The Dream held a 19-12 lead at 19-12 in the first quarter and led 37-33 at halftime.
There were two ties in the third quarter, the last at 41. Minnesota closed the period with an 11-4 run to lead 52-45 entering the final quarter.
The Dream opened the fourth quarter with consecutive baskets by Alison Bales and Castro Marques to pull within three points. Augustus quickly came off the bench, and Atlanta's comeback bid ended.
A 7-2 run gave the Lynx a 59-51 lead.
After McCoughtry's basket cut the Minnesota lead to 61-56, Moore answered with a big 3-pointer that went through the net as the shot clock sounded.
McWilliams-Franklin's status as starting center had been uncertain after she sprained her right knee, forcing her to leave Wednesday night's game. The 41-year-old did start and had seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
With the health of McWilliams-Franklin a concern, Reeve was upset when backup center Jessica Adair was called for her second foul late in the first quarter. After receiving a warning from official Michael Price to return to the bench, Reeve added another complaint and drew a technical foul.
After there were a combined 78 free throws in the Game 2 at Minnesota, there were only 34 — 17 for each team — called in Game 3.
NOTES: Former NBA star Julius Erving, who lives in Atlanta, had a front-row seat. Rapper Lil Wayne was also in the crowd. ... The attendance was 11,543, including 1,500 tickets purchased by the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks and distributed by the Dream on Thursday. ... Minnesota was called for 10 fouls in the first half while Atlanta drew only two.