Atlanta, Minnesota to meet in WNBA finals
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Angel McCoughtry led Atlanta to its third WNBA finals spot in four years, scoring 27 points in the Dream’s 67-53 victory over the defending champion Indiana Fever on Sunday.
Seeking their first title, the Dream swept the best-of-three Eastern Conference finals to set up a WNBA finals series against Western Conference champion Minnesota, which swept Phoenix.
Tamika Catchings had 24 points and six rebounds to lead Indiana, which was trying to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002.
“I’ve been through so much,” McCoughtry said. “It means so much more when you can get to this point after what you went through.”
McCoughtry willingly played a decoy role at times. Coach Fred Williams designed sets that had her run away from the ball. Those actions helped Atlanta dominate inside in Game 2 to the tune of 14 layups, 48 points in the paint and a 43-33 edge on the glass. Dream center Erika de Souza added 12 points and eight rebounds.
“Angel really sacrifices a lot to get our teammates open,” Williams said. “When Angel cuts, that takes two (defenders) away. I’m going to slide somebody in there on the weak side. I compliment Angel for making that happen.”
McCoughtry scored 11 points in the third quarter to help the Dream break open a game they led 34-33 at halftime.
Drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, McCoughtry has won back-to-back scoring titles, started two All-Star games and made the WNBA’s all-defensive team. She has reached the playoffs every season, falling just shy of titles in 2010 and 2011.
At Phoenix, Maya Moore scored 27 points and Seimone Augustus had 22 as the Lynx beat the Mercury 72-65 Sunday to advance to the WNBA finals for the third straight year.
Minnesota will open the finals on Friday at home against Atlanta.
Diana Taurasi had 21 points for Phoenix, but was 6 of 21 from the field. Candice Dupree added 17 points, while No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner was held to six points and 10 rebounds.
The Lynx swept Atlanta in the 2011 finals and lost to Indiana in four games last season.
Minnesota led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter, but Taurasi hit a 3-pointer and another basket to cut the lead to 69-63 with 1:24 remaining. Dupree got loose for a layup with 33 seconds left to get Phoenix within 69-65.
The Lynx, who won eight of nine at the end of regular season, have won all four of their playoff games in the postseason, winning by an average of 12 points a game.
Minnesota won all seven meetings with the Mercury this year and has beaten Phoenix 14 straight times dating to 2011.