INDIANAPOLIS – Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve drew national attention with her screaming, jacket-tossing meltdown in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals.
The Indiana Fever silenced her in Game 3. Shavonte Zellous scored a career-high 30 points to help the Fever beat the Lynx 76-59 on Friday night.
“You know, I was fired up for this game,” Zellous said. “That Game 2 left a bad taste in our mouth. You know, we could have done a better job in a lot of different things, and I think today, we made a conscious effort to do things better.”
Tamika Catchings added 17 points and Erlana Larkins had 10 points and 15 rebounds for the Fever, who took a 2-1 lead in the series and can win their first title at home Sunday night against the defending champs.
It has been a tense series. Reeve was fined after her actions in Game 2, which Fever coach Lin Dunn called “disrespectful.”
Indiana’s play did the talking on Friday. The Fever’s lead of 70-33 with 1:58 left in the third quarter was the largest lead by any team in WNBA Finals history. The extent of the blowout left Reeve seated with her hand on her chin for much of the second half.
Rebekkah Brunson, who scored 12 points, was the only Minnesota player to reach double figures.
“I think Indiana played the way Indiana always plays,” Reeve said. “They defend. You defend, you have a chance to win a championship. That’s it.”
When asked what the Lynx need to do differently in Game 4, Reeve simply said, “Score more points than them.”
Minnesota’s previous playoff scoring low this season was 70 points against the Fever in Game 1 of the Finals. Maya Moore was held to eight points in Game 3 and Seimone Augustus, who scored 27 points in Game 2, had six on 3-of-9 shooting. Minnesota finished with just six assists.
Indiana did it all without No. 2 scorer Katie Douglas. She is still sidelined with a severely sprained left ankle. Reserve guard Jeanette Pohlen is out with a left knee injury.
The game was intense again, but in control. The only incident was a rare technical called against Catchings with the game well in hand for the Fever.
Indiana led 21-16 at the end of the first quarter, and the Fever extended their lead to 28-18 in the second quarter, forcing the Lynx to call a timeout.
A no-look pass by Catchings directly led to a 3-pointer by Zellous that gave the Fever a 33-20 advantage. On Indiana’s next possession, Catchings drove through traffic for a layup to push the lead to 15. The Fever held Minnesota scoreless for 3:40 during a 12-0 run to take a 40-20 advantage.
Indiana led 45-27 at halftime. “We expect the defending champs to come out and play like their backs are against the wall,” said Fever guard Briann January (Lewis and Clark High), who had two points and three assists. “We know they’re going to give everything, and we have to respond and we have to bring everything we have.”