Maya Moore's three-pointer as time expired gave the Minnesota Lynx an 80-77 win in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Friday night. The clutch three-pointer gave the Lynx a 2-1 lead over the Indiana Fever in the best-of-five series.
Moore, who was held down for most of the night because of foul trouble, had just 12 points in the first three quarters before pouring in an additional 12 in the fourth for 24 on the night.
The Cauldron provided a look at her game-winner:
Her big-time shot drew a certain pop icon to make his way to Twitter:
It's Moore's first buzzer-beater in quite some time as she told the media during the postgame press conference. The WNBA caught the moment:
For Minnesota, it was back to the reliable plan of finding Sylvia Fowles down low. Averaging 21 points per game in the Finals going into Game 3, Fowles was again as close to unstoppable as can be.
It might not have been her best night offensively, but she was able to set the tone with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
It looked like Indiana wanted no part of Minnesota's presence under the basket early, as it was having problems penetrating the Lynx defense. Instead, Indiana seemed to be settling for outside jumpers.
The Fever were hot to start, keeping them close to Minnesota as they started 4-of-7 from three-point range.
Indiana star Tamika Catchings ran into foul trouble for the second straight game. Barely finishing Game 2 with five fouls that saw her miss significant time, Catchings picked up two fouls in the game's first seven minutes Friday.
She was relegated to the bench yet again, limiting her time on the court. Even when she was on the floor in the first three quarters, she was neutralized by the Minnesota defense, which wasn't shy to throw double-teams at her.
Catchings wasn't alone, though. On Minnesota's side, Moore committed three fouls in the first half, playing just 11 of 20 minutes.
But what sparked the Fever offense was the team's defense. Throwing the well-oiled machine that was the Lynx attack off, Indiana got to settle into a groove thanks to the transition game. It helped the Fever find scoring from all parts of the floor and erase a seven-point second-quarter deficit with a 14-4 run that gave the team a four-point halftime lead.
While Catchings struggled to score, Shenise Johnson and Briann January carried the offense with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Minnesota battled back as the teams swapped baskets. Moore picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter, forcing her back to the bench. Minnesota's bench players managed to hold things together, though, and keep a two-point lead going into the fourth.
Moore came back with a vengeance to start the quarter, scoring five straight points and helping the Lynx seize momentum. NBA.com's John Schuhmann was able to briefly sum up Moore's play:
But Indiana roared back thanks to Catchings, who scored five straight points to tie the game at 73 with less than three minutes left. She finished with 10 points on the night.
The lead flipped back and forth in the final two minutes. Indiana led by three, only to see a Renee Montgomery three-pointer tie things up with 59 seconds left.
Although Minnesota held Indiana on the next possession thanks to a steal from Moore, Montgomery missed a jumper, giving the Fever possession again with about 25 seconds left and a two-second differential between the game and shot clocks.
The hosts, however, could not get a shot off as Catchings hit the ball out of bounds, giving Minnesota possession with 1.7 seconds left. A timeout advanced the ball to center court to set up Moore's heroics.
The Lynx are now one game away from their third championship in five years and will have a desperate team in Indiana trying to force the series back to Minnesota. The Fever are no strangers to having their backs up against the wall, having won all of their elimination games in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.