The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Minnesota Lynx 78-76 in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on a game-winning buzzer beater from Alana Beard. She ended the game with just four points and two rebounds, playing 28 minutes, but no play was more important than the contested jumper she nailed to end the game while silencing the home crowd.
Minnesota was 15-2 at home during the regular season with one of those losses coming at the hands of the Sparks back on June 24. The Lynx finished the regular season two games ahead of the Sparks, earning them home-court advantage for the best-of-five WNBA Finals that has now been flipped after Beard’s game-winning jumper.
The Lynx had won five consecutive playoff games entering Sunday, but failed to make a three-pointer, going 0-for-4 against the Sparks in Game 1. The trio of Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Sylvia Fowles, all contributed 18 points each in the losing effort, with Fowles adding 13 rebounds.
For the winning side, Kristi Toliver and Nneka Ogwumike each totaled 19 points, with Ogwumike adding nine rebounds while shooting 8-for-9 from the field. Toliver, Los Angeles’ starting center, nailed two three-pointers and made all seven free throws in the winning effort.
Off the bench, guard Chelsea Gray played 30 minutes, adding 12 points and four assists. Candace Parker had the most complete game for Los Angeles, scoring 14 points, grabbing nine rebounds, dishing out three assists and swiping three steals.
Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday evening in Minnesota. The best-of-five series is slated under the 2-2-1 format, meaning that with Sunday’s win, the Sparks flipped the home-court advantage in their favor.