INDIANAPOLIS – Playing without injured Lindsay Whalen and with Sylvia Fowles battling foul trouble, the Lynx found Candice Dupree — and their own mistakes — too much to overcome Sunday night.
Dupree scored 31 points, Erlana Larkins made a go-ahead tip-in with 8.2 seconds left and the Indiana Fever won 84-82, handing the Lynx their third loss in 23 games this season.
Maya Moore scored 28 points for the Lynx, whose seven-game winning streak ended against a team they had dominated in the past. The Lynx had won the previous 12 meetings with the Fever and had won nine in a row at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Fever (9-17) also entered on a five-game losing streak and hadn’t won at home since June 24. None of that mattered Sunday thanks largely to Dupree, who also had nine rebounds in 36 minutes and fell one point shy of her career high. She shot 15-for-21 from the field and recorded Indiana’s first 30-point performance in more than three years.
“Candice Dupree did anything she wanted to out there tonight,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I would say it was a lot of Dupree, especially in the fourth quarter.”
That quarter was when Indiana went on a 16-4 run to turn a six-point deficit into a 70-64 lead with 5 minutes, 23 seconds to go. Dupree scored 12 points in the quarter, when the Fever shot 12-for-17 from the field.
“It was everything that we expected,” said Seimone Augustus, who returned to the Lynx lineup after missing two games for personal reasons, scoring 16 points. “We expected Indiana to come out and play really tough. It’s a great defensive team. They really didn’t have anything to lose. So we knew that they were going to come out and give everything they have.”
The WNBA-best Lynx weren’t done, though. Back-to-back steals by Jia Perkins and Moore led to Moore baskets that tied the score at 77-77 with 90 seconds to go.
Moore tied it again with two free throws with 57.2 seconds left, and after Dupree scored with 44.9 seconds to play, Augustus responded with a three-pointer that gave her team an 82-81 lead.
After a Fever timeout, Moore deflected Marissa Coleman’s three-point attempt from the left corner, but Larkins redirected the miss for the decisive basket. Augustus put up an airball on a long jumper with 1.8 seconds left, and Indiana’s Briann January, who finished with 14 points and six assists, hit one of two free throws to close it out.
“Down the stretch we felt like we executed well,” Augustus said. “But turnovers and things like that reared its ugly head for us, and then the last possession of the game we didn’t get a box out and secure the ball, and it led to Larkins getting there and getting a tip on the basket.”
Fowles, the Lynx All-Star center and MVP candidate, was held to season lows of six points and 20 minutes. She picked up two fouls in the opening 4:26, and she sat for the rest of the third quarter after getting tagged with her fourth foul 1:50 into the second half. Three of those fouls came on the offensive end, as Fowles committed four of 21 Lynx turnovers.
The Lynx also played for the first time since Whalen broke her left hand. The point guard had surgery Friday. Renee Montgomery started in her place, finishing with two points and three assists.
Rebekkah Brunson had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the 88th double-double of her career, 55th with the Lynx and second of the season. She also had four steals.
“We gave ourselves a shot to win it at the end there,” Moore said. “And we’d like to be better defensively and try to make it a little harder for great players like Dupree not to get off. She was big for them offensively. This one doesn’t feel good, but we will bounce back.”