Sylvia Fowles had 21 points and nine rebounds, Maya Moore scored 12 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and the Minnesota Lynx beat the Los Angeles Sparks 77-74 on Tuesday night for sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.
Fowles and Moore combined to score Minnesota’s first 18 points of the fourth.
Moore hit a 3-pointer in transition to extend Minnesota’s lead to 61-54. She knocked down another 3 with the shot clock winding down and after a Los Angeles miss, Moore made a fast-break layup for a 68-58 lead with 3:53 left.
Minnesota was up by 12 with 1:47 left but Los Angeles charged back and Chelsea Gray hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 2.1 seconds left to pull the Sparks to 76-74. With a second left, Lindsay Whalen made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second to run out the clock.
Whalen finished with 10 points and Rebekkah Brunson had 11 rebounds for Minnesota (25-5), the top-ranked team in the AP power poll. The Lynx earned a double bye to the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs.
Gray scored a career-high 20 points and Nneka Ogwumike had 19 points and eight rebounds for second-ranked Los Angeles (24-6). Candace Parker added 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The Sparks didn’t make their first basket of the third quarter until the 3:21 mark but only trailed 54-50 entering the fourth after closing on a 10-4 run.