ATLANTA - Well before the final buzzer Friday night, Lynx star Seimone Augustus told teammates, "It's over."
She was right. The way the Lynx played defense, the Dream was dead.
The Lynx won their first WNBA title on the back of their defense.
After winning Game 2 of the finals despite getting strafed for 95 points, including a record 38 by Angel McCoughtry, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve made a decision. The plan was to slow McCoughtry.
The plan worked. She scored 22 points Friday but took 25 shots to do it, making only nine. She averaged 35.5 points in the first two games of the finals.
"We wanted to get into her cuts," Reeve said after the Lynx won Game 3 73-67. "In the first two games, we were still in the mode of trying to contain her off the dribble. We were giving her too much space, and by the time we guarded her, she had already gotten her wheels rolling.
"We tried to do more tonight before she caught the ball, get closer to her. For the most part, we did that."
The game plan Friday was to get in McCoughtry's face, and not wait until she had the ball to do it. The Lynx -- most often Augustus -- made it tougher in Game 3 for the first-team All-WNBA forward to get the ball where she wanted it, and when she did, they made it tough for her to get off a quality shot.
Reeve figured McCoughtry would still shoot plenty, but the coach didn't want her getting good shots. It worked.
Beyond the 1-on-1 defense of Augustus and the help of teammates on the occasions when McCoughtry had the ball, the Lynx were considerably more active on defense all the way around.
"We got after it. We played hard, got deflections, and in the second half we played great defense," point guard Lindsay Whalen said. "We said if we don't score, they don't score."
The Lynx were having problems scoring, too, but they made it tough on Atlanta all the while.
In the third quarter, Atlanta scored only eight points, shooting 4-for-16. It helped that the Dream missed all five of their free throws in the period.
The Dream shot 34.6 percent from the floor overall (27-for-78), and made only two of eight three-pointers, one in the frantic final minute when the home team cut an eight-point deficit to one with the help of full-court pressure. The Dream also shot only 6-for-20 on fast-break opportunities.
"We were getting into their cuts," Lynx rookie Maya Moore said. "They weren't in their comfort zone, and we did a great job of helping, moving and being active."
Reeve said she "absolutely" expected the game to be physical.
"For two days we heard about ... disappointment in the fouls called. We expected not to get a call," Reeve said. "That's what makes this so much sweeter; nobody gave us anything. McCoughtry is the high-volume player. I thought we were much better defensively, and that was our main focus."