Atlanta, GA (Betting Express) - Thanks to 16 points from Seimone Augustus and stifling defense in the second half, the Minnesota Lynx captured their first WNBA championship with a 73-67 victory over the Atlanta Dream.
Augustus was named Finals MVP for her performances, which led the Lynx to a sweep in the best-of-five series. She posted 22 points and seven assists in Game 1 and had a franchise-playoff record 36 points in Game 2, including 15 in the fourth quarter.
Rookie of the year Maya Moore added 15 points and seven rebounds Friday to help the Lynx, who trailed at halftime but limited the Dream to eight points in the third quarter.
Angel McCoughtry had 22 points to lead the Dream, who were within a point in the final few minutes but lost in the Finals for the second consecutive year. They were swept by Seattle last season.
"There is a lot of fight in this team, I can tell you that, and they know what it's all about to be in championship games, and to me I thought Minnesota did what they needed to do," said Atlanta head coach Marynell Meadors. "We didn't hit our free throws and our easy shots. Had we done that we might have been sitting here as winners, but we did not do it."
Erika de Souza had 15 rebounds and 11 points in the loss. She scored eight during the first quarter to help the Dream get out to a 20-17 lead. They led the entire period.
Minnesota edged in front briefly during the second period, taking a 29-25 lead when Lindsay Whalen sank a fadeaway with a little under seven minutes to go. The Lynx were still ahead a few minutes later, but Sancho Lyttle made a layup and Armintie Price followed with a layup, and Atlanta carried a 37-33 edge into the break.
But the Dream struggled through the third quarter, making only four of their 18 shots from the field.
That allowed the Lynx to build a lead. Augustus bookended a six-point run with a pair of baskets to give her team a 41-39 edge, and Monica Wright's fadeaway made it a 49-43 contest with 2:35 to play.
Rebekkah Brunson's layup in the final seconds put the Lynx ahead 52-42 heading into the final frame, and they didn't surrender the lead.
Still, Atlanta stayed close and drew within a point in the final few minutes. The Lynx were ahead by a game-high eight points before Lindsey Harding's two free throws started a 7-0 run.
Iziane Castro Marques capped the rally with a three-pointer with 1:17 to go, making it a 64-63 game.
"They trapped and we tried to throw it over the top," Augustus said. "They're big post players, they're going to get deflections. We have to beat them with bounce passes, and as soon as we got the ball we tried to get rid of it and they are too quick to do things like that."
But the Dream couldn't fully erase the deficit. Taj McWilliams-Franklin made two free throws on Minnesota's next possession, and after McCoughtry missed, Whalen made 1-of-2. A Castro Marques miss led to two more McWilliams-Franklin foul shots, and the Lynx held on in the final 35 seconds.