INDIANAPOLIS — Tamika Catchings finally won her long-awaited WNBA championship.
She scored 25 points to help the Indiana Fever win their first title with an 87-78 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday night.
Catchings, who was the MVP of the Finals, averaged 24.8 points in the series, which the Fever won 3-1 over the defending WNBA champions.
Erin Phillips added 18 points and eight rebounds while Shavonte Zellous and Briann January each had 15 points.
The Fever won even though No. 2 scorer Katie Douglas missed most of the series with a severely sprained left knee. Douglas checked in with 3.2 seconds left to a loud ovation.
Catchings had won three Olympic gold medals and an NCAA championships at Tennessee in 1998, but never a WNBA one. She had been in a position to clinch at home before. The Fever led Phoenix 2-1 in the best-of-five WNBA Finals in 2009, but the Mercury beat the Fever 90-77, took the series back to Phoenix and won the title at home in Game 5.
This time, Catchings took it home with college coach Pat Summitt looking on in the crowd.
Indiana led 63-58 at the end of the third quarter. Minnesota cut Indiana’s lead to 70-67 on a jumper by Maya Moore, but Phillips scored on a drive past Moore, got a defensive rebound, then found Shavonte Zellous for a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Fever a 75-67 lead with 4:58 remaining.
Indiana led by at least five points the rest of the way. A 3-pointer by January gave Indiana an 80-72 lead with 1:18 to play. Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve was called for a technical with 57.6 seconds remaining, Catchings made the free throw and the Fever took an 81-74 lead. Zellous made two more free throws with 27.2 seconds to play, and Fever fans began celebrating.
Seimone Augustus, Minnesota’s leading scorer in the playoffs, was held to eight points on 3-for-21 shooting. Lindsay Whalen scored 22 points and Moore added 16 points for the Lynx, who were vying to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002.