The Lynx dominated the Fever, 92-73, in Indianapolis on Friday night to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.
“There just was no quit. They played as hard as they could,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Everything we got we had to really earn. Coming here and getting this win was obviously something that was important to us. So, mission accomplished.”
Despite battling injuries all year, the Lynx secured a top-4 seed in the playoffs — and the first-round bye that goes with it — with the win.
“That’s what we came here to do,” Reeve said. “We wanted to make sure that we could control our own destiny. We were the first of the games tonight that had implications on seeding.”
Because the Las Vegas Aces beat the Chicago Sky on Friday night, the Lynx can no longer reach the second seed. But the current fourth seed Seattle trails Minnesota by one game in the standings with two games left this season, one of them being late Friday night.
Sylvia Fowles led the Lynx with a double-double (21 points and 10 rebounds). Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield scored 17 and 15, respectively. Natalie Achonwa added 11 points off the bench.
“[I’m] extremely proud of these young women,” Fowles said. “I’m happy with where we are. I feel like we still have a few things that we can clean up. To now see what we’ve come from to where we are now, I’m very excited and I’m very proud of [the] things we’ve done this season.”
The Fever came out strong in the first quarter, taking a 5-1 lead, but it would be their largest and last lead of the game.
In the middle of the first quarter, the Lynx started to find their footing and begin to build momentum. They went on a 15-2 scoring run to take a 22-9 lead. Kayla McBride started the scoring run with a 19-foot pull up jump shot.
However, the Fever quickly responded with a 12-5 scoring run of their own and cut the Lynx’s lead to 27-21 to close out the first quarter. They pulled within 40-38 with a 6-0 run late in the second quarter but the Lynx fought back to extend their lead to 51-44 at intermission.
Indiana only scored 10 points in the third quarter and the Lynx led by 25 points, their largest lead, on a Rachel Banham 3-pointer with 6:37 left in the game.
The Lynx are now 16-3 when scoring more than 80 points in a game, 13-1 when leading after three quarters, and 3-0 this season when their starting lineup consists of McBride, Fowles, Napheesa Collier, Crystal Dangerfield and Aerial Powers.
The Lynx will close out the regular season on the road as they take on the Washington Mystics (12-19) on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2 p.m.