By DEITRA P. JOHNSON (ADW Sports Editor)
Angel McCoughtry’s 22 points and her team’s final surge in the fourth quarter was not enough for the Atlanta Dream to avoid being swept by the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals on Oct. 7.
The Lynx took Games 1 and 2 in Minneapolis to push the Dream into a corner in the best-of-five series, and finished off with a 73-67 win to take the 2011 league title on Friday.
Minnesota’s defense clamped down on McCoughtry, who scored 33 points in Game 1 and 38 in Game 2. McCoughtry’s 22 in the final showdown came on 9-for-25 shooting from the field.
“We just kind of smothered her and forced her into bad shots,” said Seimone Augustus.
Erika de Souza was the only other Dream player to score in double-figures, finishing with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
As a whole, Atlanta was held to 34.6 percent shooting from the field and could only manage 2-of-8 3-pointers.
Augustus led Minnesota with 16 points, and Georgia native Maya Moore contributed 15 in Game 3 to cap off an impressive season. The Lynx finished the regular season with a 27-7 mark, and swept both the Phoenix Mercury and the Dream to claim the title.
It was Atlanta’s second consecutive time in the Finals, having being swept last season by the Seattle Storm.
Augustus was instrumental throughout the Finals series. The five-year veteran guard accounted for 76 points over a three-game span.
After taking a 19-12 first-quarter lead and a 37-33 advantage at the half, the Dream faltered at the close of the third quarter when Minnesota closed the period with an 11-4 run. The Lynx led 52-45 going into the final stanza.
The Dream manage to pull to within three early in the fourth, but another 7-2 run by Minnesota gave the Lynx a 59-51 lead.
However, Atlanta would not give up.
McCoughtry hit two free throws and Iziane Castro Marques hit a 3-pointer to cut Minnesota’s lead to one with 1:17 remaining in the game, but Moore hit a crucial 3-pointer of her own to squash Atlanta’s threat.
“If Maya Moore’s shot doesn’t go in, who knows that’s going to happen,” said Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors. “We had the momentum.”
The Dream could get no closer than four in the finals seconds despite a nine-point, fourth-quarter effort by McCoughtry.
Rebekkah Brunson contributed 13 points and Candice Wiggins added 10 to compliment a balanced Minnesota attack.