Fever 76, Lynx 59

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Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
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INDIANAPOLIS -- One could say the Indiana Fever is Zellous about winning its first WNBA title.

Shavonte Zellous became the latest Fever role player to step up in the absence of veteran star Katie Douglas, scoring a career-high 30 points Friday night as Indiana took the defending champion Minnesota Lynx to the woodshed in a 76-59 rout.

Indiana took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Finals.

Tamika Catchings, still seeking her first WNBA crown after 11 seasons -- all with Indiana -- contributed 17 points, six rebounds and three assists. Erin Phillips chipped in 13 points and Erlana Larkins kicked in 10, along with a game-high 15 rebounds -- the second time in the series she's done that.

Rebekkah Brunson led the Lynx with 12 points and nine rebounds, but none of their three All-WNBA players showed up. Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen were all held under double figures as Minnesota settled for long, contested shots against the physical Fever.

Indiana can wrap up the series Sunday night in what figures to be a wild Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which was filled with 18,165 fans that came ready to scream. Zellous and her teammates gave them plenty of reasons to do just that.

A fourth-year player from Pittsburgh, the 5-foot-10 Zellous surpassed her previous career best of 25 points by sinking a free throw with 4:33 remaining. The game was long since decided, the Fever having established a 37-point third quarter lead and coasting to the finish line.

How flattering was the final score to the Lynx? Indiana managed just six points over the game's final 11 minutes and 33 seconds, all by Zellous, and never had to fret.

Indiana took charge midway through the first quarter, wiping out a 12-8 deficit with 11 straight points as Minnesota committed five turnovers in a four-minute span. Catchings and Phillips combined for nine points during that run.

With the loud crowd amping its volume a few notches, the Fever nearly ran the Lynx off the floor in the second quarter, establishing a pair of 21-point leads before Maya Moore's leaning 3-pointer beat the halftime horn.

The play withstood an official review, but it was one of the few things which went right for the defending champions.

Notes: One major difference in this game and Game 2, an 83-71 Minnesota win, was offensive rebounding. The Lynx boasted a 24-3 edge in second-chance points, but the Fever owned a 12-6 margin at halftime of Game 3. ... Catchings recorded the 106th steal of her postseason career in the first half, the most in WNBA history. ... Minnesota's 27 first half points represent a playoff low for it.