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Mercury eliminated in the Western Conference Finals, Lynx move on to WNBA Finals

PHOENIX — Maya Moore stole an inbounds pass with 2 seconds left, was fouled by Noelle Quinn and made a free throw to give Minnesota a 72-71 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday, sending the Lynx to the WNBA Finals with a two-game sweep in the Western Conference series.

Moore had career playoff-high 40 points to help Minnesota reach the title series for the fourth time in five seasons. Minnesota, the 2011 and 2013 champion, will face New York or Indiana in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. Indiana beat New York on Sunday to force a third game in that series.

With the teams tied at 71, Moore stole a lob pass to Brittney Griner and was fouled by Quinn. Moore made the first three throw and the Lynx rebounded the miss on the second as time ran out.

Candice Dupree led the defending champion Mercury with 16 points.

The third quarter was back and forth as Griner had to leave with four fouls at the 5:55 mark. Phoenix went ahead 53-47 on a layup by Monique Currie that ended a wild exchange of possessions with no points.

Moore scored five straight points to cut the Phoenix lead to one. After Quinn got a friendly bounce off the back of the rim for a 3-pointer with 1:23 left, the Lynx pulled to 59-58 at the end of the third quarter.

The Lynx made six of their first seven shots to take a 12-4 lead. Augustus made her first three shots and the Lynx made 12 of 17 shots in the opening quarter to take 25-15 lead.

The Mercury opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run with Griner, scoreless in the first, scoring seven points during the run. Sylvia Fowles’ interior defense on Griner made a difference early, but the Lynx couldn’t contain the Mercury’s star center. When DeWanna Bonner scored and drew the third foul on Fowles, her free throw gave the Mercury its biggest lead of the half at 30-27 with 4:29 to play.

Moore’s back-to-back 3-pointers in the last 2 minutes kept Phoenix from building on the lead, and it was tied at 41 at halftime.