INDIANAPOLIS - The Road to Repeat -- a Lynx theme this season -- ended in a dead end Sunday miles and miles from their home.
Indiana outscrapped the defending champions 87-78 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse before an announced crowd of 15,213. It was an inspired effort by a short-handed team.
Tamika Catchings, a 12-year veteran, scored 25 points and had eight assists in willing the Fever to its first WNBA title and hers.
Indiana lost twice to the Lynx in the regular season about a month ago, but despite playing without two key injured players, won this best-of-five finals series 3-1.
The Indiana Pacers were the last pro basketball champion in this state in 1973, winning a title in the old American Basketball Association.
Lindsay Whalen kept the Lynx close most of the game with a team-high 22 points, and Maya Moore had 16. But Seimone Augustus, the Lynx's third Olympian, had a nightmarish shooting night. The first team All-WNBA guard was three of 21 and finished with just eight points.
A normal shooting night from Augustus and ... Game 5 probably would have been played Wednesday at Target Center.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve tried to put a positive spin on the season's end.
"These guys have been terrific," she said of her players. "We won 54 [regular season] games in two years. We needed Seimone to be MVP-like. I feel terrible for Seimone."
Said Augustus, who was the MVP of the 2011 Finals: "It is just a rough night. We fought hard, and that is all you can really ask for. Indiana played great and obviously they deserved to win."
The Fever built a 10-point lead early in the third quarter at 56-46 only to watch the Lynx go on a 10-0 run to tie the score.
One of Catchings' two three-pointers put Indiana ahead to stay 59-56. The Fever had too many players scoring for the Lynx to catch them. Erin Phillips had 18 points and Shavonte Zellous and Briann January had 15 apiece.
January also hounded Augustus. Looking at Augustus' final statistics, January loudly said, "Woooo" and punched one hand with the other in joy.
"Bri [Briann] is little shorter than Seimone," Catchings said, "but she was a first team All-WNBA defensive player. All Seimone's touches were hard. She used up her energy in the first quarter. The rest of the time, she was dribbling the ball off her knee, off her foot."
The Lynx opened this season with a league-record 10 victories and had a 13-game winning streak in the middle of the season.
As the playoffs' top seed because of a 27-7 record -- same as last year -- they had home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Several rival coaches called the Lynx the best team in the league, and they had the credentials to support those claims.
They set WNBA single-season records by averaging 20.8 assists per game and outrebounding opponents by an average of 6.8 boards per game. They shot a league-high 47.3 percent, narrowly missing a third league record.
Other memorable highlights throughout the season:
• They overcame the largest deficit in league history, 25 points, in beating Atlanta on Aug. 7 in two overtimes.
• They shot a league record 69.5 percent against Tulsa on July 10.
• They had three players score more than 20 points in beating Seattle on Aug. 21. Augustus had 22, Brunson and Moore 20 apiece.
Sunday's game was memorable, too -- for someone wearing Fever red.
"On paper, we were not supposed to win," Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. "They had three Olympians, and we had one [Catchings]. They had a longer bench than we did. But the people we played wanted to win a championship for Catchings" and several other veterans.
Said Catchings, "When you come into the league, your goal and dream is to win a WNBA championship, and 12 years later, here we are."