ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Maya Moore scored 26 points and the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx beat the Phoenix Mercury 96-86 on Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in the semifinal series.
Lindsay Whalen scored 12 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter for Minnesota, playing at the Xcel Energy Center — home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild — for the second straight game because of a scheduling conflict at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Rebekkah Brunson added 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Sylvia Fowles had 14 points and nine rebounds for the top-seeded Lynx. Earlier Friday, Fowles was honored as the league’s defensive player of the year and Cheryl Reeve as the coach of the year.
Diana Taurasi had 31 points for the eighth-seeded Mercury. Penny Taylor added 16, and Marta Xargay had 10.
Minnesota used a 9-1 run midway through the first quarter to build a 24-13 lead.
Phoenix cut it to 63-57 midway through the third quarter. Moore answered with one of her four 3-pointers on the night and the Mercury didn’t come within six again until the final 30 seconds.
The teams combined for 54 fouls, including 17 in the first quarter. Phoenix center Britney Griner was especially hampered by the barrage of whistles. She picked up two fouls in the first 1:41 and was pulled from the game. Griner returned with 3:23 to go in the first quarter, but picked up her third foul with 50.8 seconds left in the quarter. She played just 4:13 in the first half.
The offenses took advantage of the numerous trips to the line. The teams combined to make their first 25 free throws and made 63 of 68 from the line on the night.
Mercury: Center Kelsey Bone missed the game because of a strained left elbow. She was injured in the second half in Game 1 on Wednesday night. … The Mercury have played four consecutive road playoff games. They won the first two, single-elimination games at Indiana and New York, before losing two straight in Minnesota.
Lynx: Minnesota has won its first playoff game in each of the last six seasons. … Jia Perkins had 12 points.
Game 3 is Sunday in Phoenix.