The Los Angeles Sparks’ Alana Beard is one of the WNBA’s premier defenders, but in Game 1 against the Minnesota Lynx on the road, it was her offense that provided the difference as she made a buzzer-beating jumper as time expired. The Sparks won Game 1 of the WNBA Finals 78-76.
Beard only had four points for the game, but those last two were what mattered the most.
— LaChina Robinson (@LaChinaRobinson) October 9, 2016
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 9, 2016
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) October 9, 2016
If this game was indicative of how the rest of these Finals will go, something tells us this series will certainly be a classic.
Lost in the hoop-la of the Beard buzzer-beater was that the streak has continued. The Sparks and Lynx have now met four times this season—and on all four occasions, the road team has come out victorious.
Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver each scored 19 points for Los Angeles with Ogwumike also adding nine rebounds. Candace Parker’s WNBA Finals debut would yield 14 points and nine rebounds. Chelsea Gray would finish with 12.
On the Minnesota side of the ledger, Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, and Lindsay Whalen each had 18 points with Moore’s coming in historic fashion by becoming the all-time leading scorer in WNBA Finals history.
The Sparks assumed a 21-18 advantage after one quarter, but it would be Minnesota ahead by two at the half. Twelve of Whalen’s 18 points came in the first half. The Sparks held Moore scoreless in the first half.
It was 60-56 in favor of Minnesota at the end of the third quarter, but in the waning moments of the fourth, the Sparks led 76-72 before a jumper from Seimone Augustus and a layup from Moore tied it at 76.
Prior to the buzzer-beater, Beard also came up with a block and a steal—two big defensive plays. That was before her game-winning shot that left the Target Center stunned.
Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday at 8 p.m.