Lynx Clinch WNBA Title at Williams
Oct. 4, 2017

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The Minnesota Lynx captured their WNBA-record-tying fourth league title by beating the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 of the Finals at Williams Arena Wednesday night. Golden Gophers alumna Lindsay Whalen has been part of all four championships, clinching the fourth on her former collegiate court.

"I think every time you do this, it just gets a little bit more special because it gets a little harder and it gets a little more meaningful because you know it's not easy, you know it's not something that we try to take for granted ever, and we've now been on this journey together since 2010, but 2011 was our first ring, and every year since then it gets a little tougher," Whalen said.

The Lynx won Game 5 85-76 in front of sellout crowd of 14,632 spectators on the University of Minnesota campus. The Lynx never trailed, and held off a late Sparks surge. Whalen tallied 17 points and eight assists in the final game. Finals MVP Sylvia Fowles scored 17 points and pulled down 20 rebounds. Maya Moore led the Lynx with 18 points.

Minnesota had forced a fifth game and return to the Land of 10,000 Lakes by winning Game 4 in Los Angeles after falling behind 2-1 in the series. The Gopher women's basketball team enjoyed sharing Williams Arena this fall with the best team in the WNBA, and was happy to see the Lynx return for one more game.

"We told [the student-athletes] it's a once in a lifetime experience," Gophers head coach Marlene Stollings said. "Not only are we playing in a championship game, it's in our house, which we like to refer to as their house right now. We'll gladly share it. It's a privilege to be part of that. You don't want to miss something that historic in your own venue. I think it's really special for our team to have this in our venue."

Whalen, who led the Gophers to the 2004 Final Four, relished the chance to run point for her current team on familiar ground.

"I felt good about our chances being in this building, because...I know I've been a part of some special games here and some special runs," Whalen said. "It doesn't get any sweeter than to bring another trophy home and another ring. But to do it here is definitely pretty cool."

Whalen added to her prolific stats during the 2017 playoffs. She holds the WNBA Finals all-time record with 128 assists and is second behind only teammate--and the WNBA's only five-time champion--Rebekkah Brunson in Finals games and minutes played. Whalen raised her career playoff scoring total to 944 points, fourth in league history. But the numbers don't tell the full story.

"At the end of the day, it's players like Lindsay Whalen who has a will to win that's second to none," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Some of the plays, diving on the floor for a loose ball, that's the stuff we talk about. Everyone wants to talk about who scores, but it's those plays in those moments that win a game for you."

In the heightened atmosphere of a fifth Finals game, those moments on several occasions brought a roar out of the crowd at Williams Arena.

"It's just deafening out there," Moore said. "It's so loud. Whenever we did something great, even to start the game, you could just feel the energy in it. It helped us. I think it absolutely helped us just embrace the moment and just to be able to finish it here and people to show up the way they did shows that they don't take us for granted, either."

Lynx Game 5 does massive TV ratings in Twin Cities (Star Tribune)
Whalen right at home with fourth WNBA title (espnW)
Lindsay Whalen shows teammates Barn magic (Pioneer Press)
Box score (WNBA)




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