MINNEAPOLIS — ‘Mone was in the zone.
That was the best way Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve could describe the Lynx’s best player in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday night.
Behind 36 points on 11-for-14 shooting from Seimone Augustus, the Lynx showed the prowess it did all season in posting the league’s best record. Minnesota channeled the momentum it had down the stretch in Game 1, again coming from behind to win 101-95 and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Lynx can wrap up their first WNBA championship — and the first major title of any kind for the Twin Cities since the Twins won the 1991 World Series — Friday in Atlanta.
Reeve, who won two WNBA championships as an assistant coach in Detroit in 2006 and 2008, called the performance Augustus put on at Target Center despite a swollen knee the best individual show she had seen in the playoffs.
“She’s a warrior,” Reeve said. “She is hurt and she is tough. I tried to sub for her; she was mad at me. (So) we kept running plays for her. I stayed out of her way.”
Augustus scored 11 of her points on fourth-quarter free throws. Minnesota went to the line 24 times over the last 10 minutes, the result of a 55-foul game that, not surprisingly, irked Atlanta more than Minnesota.
The Dream was called for 33 of the fouls.
“Short of getting fined for anything, there were a lot of free throws taken in that game,” Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. “I just don’t understand some of the things that were being called. Not to say that they were wrong, but there were a lot of things I disagreed with.”
Added Angel McCaughtry, who scored a WNBA Finals record 38 points for Atlanta: “Don’t you all want to see us play and battle it out? … Not taking nothing from Minnesota — they deserve their win — but I think it should be determined between us and Minnesota and who wins the game. Let us battle it out, let us scratch and claw to the end. It’s entertainment, that’s what people want to see. That’s the way it should be played.”
The Lynx had plenty of calls go against them, too. But the play of Augustus was more than enough to fill a void left by Maya Moore, who picked up her third foul with a minute to go in the first quarter, and to make up for the absence ofTaj McWilliams-Franklin, who injured her right knee in the third quarter and did not return.
Augustus was a one-woman act for the Lynx most of the game. Through three quarters, while Augustus was 9-for-11 from the floor the rest of the Lynx were 15-for-37, yet the Dream led by just five heading into the final 10 minutes.
Augustus brought the crowd of 15,124 to its feet with 3:20 to go when she swished a fade-away jumper from the left side of the hoop to give Minnesota the lead at 87-85.
It was just one of what teammate Lindsay Whalen called “crazy-tough shots.”
“Nothing was going to stop us,” Augustus said. “But the legacy isn’t complete until we’re holding that trophy. I want the title — that’s it.”
Her momentum-stealing play seemed to deflate a Dream squad that for much of the game controlled the pace.
It was McCaughtry who stole the show early.
She had 24 points in what was a dizzying and somewhat sloppy first half.
McCaughtry, the No. 1 overall pick by the Dream in 2009 out of Louisville, had 12 points in each of the first two quarters. Her running jumper from beyond the three-point arc just before the first-half horn sounded gave the Dream a 58-50 lead at the break.
It capped an astounding 59.9 percent clip from the field by Atlanta through the first 20 minutes. Minnesota was no slouch itself, hitting 51.5 percent of shots.
But just as in Game 1, when Atlanta let a 12-point lead slip away, the Dream couldn’t hang on.
“We need to play through the hard times,” said Lindsey Harding, who scored 16 points and dished out seven assists for Atlanta. “It’s about overcoming adversity.”