MINNEAPOLIS — A trend has developed over the past five years in the WNBA playoffs: No one beats Minnesota at home.
Briann January had 19 points and six assists and the Fever stole homecourt advantage in the WNBA Finals with a 75-69 victory over the Lynx in Game 1 on Sunday.
Marissa Coleman added 16 points and the Fever hit all 16 of its free throws in a rematch of the 2012 title series. Indiana won Game 1 of that series en route to the franchise's only championship.
"We just believe in one another," Fever coach Stephanie White said. "We trust one another, and we understand that no matter what happens through the course of a game, if we come together we're going to put ourselves in a position to win."
Maya Moore had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Sylvia Fowles add 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lynx. But Minnesota missed 8 of 23 free throws and turned the ball over 15 times to drop the opener.
"How do we lose that game?" Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after her team held Indiana to 36 percent shooting. "We just didn't do the little things at key times."
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday in Minneapolis.
Veteran Tamika Catchings had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Fever, which never got rattled by Minnesota's boisterous home crowd. The Fever outscored Minnesota 22-12 in second-chance points.
The Lynx was 19-2 at Target Center in its playoff history, the best winning percentage in the WNBA. The last time it had lost at home in the playoffs was against the Fever in 2012.
This one followed a similar script, with the determined and gritty Fever absorbing several haymakers from the Lynx and pushing back each time.
January, the tough-as-nails daughter of a karate instructor who has a black belt herself, led the way. She knocked down two tough jumpers late in the third when the Lynx had pulled within four and was there in the end to ice it.
"I challenged Bri to lead this team," Catchings said.