Lynx sweep past Seattle, into conference finals

  • Article by: KEVIN ANDREW DOWD , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 23, 2013 - 6:53 AM

Minnesota sunk Seattle, reaching the conference finals.

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– A nearly flawless performance from Maya Moore earned the Lynx the lead going into the final minute of Sunday’s game. Seimone Augustus took it from there.

Moore bounced back from a subpar night — for her — in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals to score 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting in Game 2. Then Augustus hit a jumper with 25 seconds left to put the Lynx on top for good, en route to a 58-55 victory that wrapped up a 2-0 series sweep of the Seattle Storm.

Next, the Lynx will play host to either Los Angeles or Phoenix in the first game of the conference finals Thursday night at Target Center as they aim for a third consecutive trip to the WNBA Finals. The Sparks and Mercury will play the deciding game of their first-round series Monday.

On Sunday, Storm star Tina Thompson, playing the final game of her 17-year career, completed a rapid fourth-quarter comeback with a driving layup that put Seattle on top 55-54 with less than a minute to play.

On the ensuing possession, the Lynx got the ball into the hands of Augustus, even though she had made just four of her first 15 shots Sunday afternoon in the Tacoma Dome, where the game was played because of a scheduling conflict at KeyArena in Seattle. Augustus rattled home what proved to be the game-winning shot from the right elbow.

“As the coach, your job at the end of the game is to get a player like Seimone a touch,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Seimone’s job is to get the shot. And that’s exactly what she did.”

The game was a far cry from the Lynx’s high-flying, 80-64 victory in the first game of the series. That was the plan for Seattle, whose coach, Brian Agler, said his team wanted a score in the 50s.

The Storm got its wish. The Lynx went more than five minutes without scoring to begin the second quarter and shot 37.7 percent in the game.

“That’s not a game made for television,” Reeve said.

But Rebekkah Brunson, who dominated the interior with 15 points and 13 rebounds, didn’t mind the change of pace.

“I don’t think we got frustrated at all,” the Lynx forward said. “We knew it was going to be that type of game. We just tried to maintain our composure, stay calm, keep our poise, and eventually something good would happen for us.”

The Storm certainly didn’t go down without a fight. The Lynx led by seven points halfway through the fourth quarter, but the Storm used a pair of baskets by Thompson and a three-pointer by Noelle Quinn to take the lead with less than a minute to play.

After Augustus’ big shot, Brunson hit two free throws to stretch the lead to three, and Seattle had one last chance to send it to overtime. A frantic final possession ended without the Storm getting off a shot.

A trip to the conference finals never gets old, according to Moore, no matter how often the Lynx make it.

“I don’t think we value it any less because this is our third time here,” Moore said. “I think this one is really, really sweet.”

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