Rowdy crowd cheers Lynx to Game 1 victoryby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Fans of the Minnesota Lynx are celebrating the team's first-ever win in the WNBA finals, an 88-74 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Sunday night.
More than 15,000 people filled the Target Center for the game, waving free, white pom-poms under video screens that read, "Atlanta Dream, Welcome to your Nightmare."
Lynx player Seimone Augustus described it all as a little overwhelming.
"Just to run out and see the white pom-poms waving in the air, and the seats are actually filled, even the upper row, upper deck was filled, it was amazing," she said. "It was loud, to the point that we had call our plays two and three times to relay to the team, to make sure we got the right calls."
The Lynx started out a little tentatively, and at one point during the first half, Atlanta was up by 12 points. At a news conference after the game, Minnesota native and Lynx guard Lindsey Whalen acknowledged it took the team a while to get going.
"You know, it's a long game," she said. "To coach's credit, she got us kinda refocused on playing aggressive and sharing the ball."
"In the second half the Lynx hit their groove, and broke away in the third quarter when Lynx forward Maya Moore made an improbable scoop shot. Whelan widened the lead in the fourth quarter making basket after basket and playing hard defense. And Augustus accumulated 22 points.
Post game, Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said that, for a while, her team couldn't find the rim of the basketball hoop. At the same time, they couldn't keep Simone Augustus away from it.
"Simone is just one of the best players there is. She's got a great shot, and you've got to do a great job defending her. We kept her in front of us all night long but it doesn't matter," she said. "As soon as they started rebounding, they started scoring inside, we lost the momentum."
As soon as the game ended, fans started talking about the rest of the best-of-five series. Long-time season ticket holder Erica Mauter was happy with the win. But she was already thinking about how she'd feel if the Lynx lost the championship.
"It'd be kinda disappointing to come so far and not actually finish the whole -- actually get to the end. But I'll be happy anyway," she said. "What I'm not looking forward to is the, if they do lose, the whole 'oh, they're just like every other Minnesota team, they get our hopes up and then they blew it.'"
Maria Foxhill said the first game could set the tone for everything to come.
"The first game is pivotal, brings you in with a little momentum, a little heart," she said. "So when they go to Atlanta, it'll be a little harder to beat them. "But 35, they gotta watch 35, 35 is not letting it go. It's a bad girl."
The 35 Foxhill's talking about is Atlanta Dream player Angel McCoughtry, who scored 33 points during the game, blocked shots, and forced steals and jump shots from all over the court. And Foxhill said Atlanta's probably wants to win badly after going to the WNBA Finals last year and falling short to Seattle.
Down in the locker room, rookie Maya Moore said the Lynx can't take anything for granted.
"We obviously take momentum and confidence from it but we don't think that we have the series won just because we won game one," she said. "It's obviously going to be a long series, the longest series of any series in the playoffs, so we have to mentally prepare for the next game and put Game 1 behind us."
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Wednesday night, back at the Target Center.
- Morning Edition, 10/03/2011, 7:25 a.m.