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Indiana Fever stunned on last-second 'heartbreaker'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marissa Coleman sat facing her dressing room stall, head down, hands cupping her ears as the stony silence of the Indiana Fever locker room served as an appropriate backdrop for some serious soul-searching.

It was minutes after the Minnesota Lynx took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five WNBA Finals, and the shock of Maya Moore's game-winning 25-footer after pump-faking and driving around an airborne Coleman had settled into a simmer deep inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"She's a great player and she made a great play and it sucks," Coleman said of Moore's 25-footer, which came as time expired in Minnesota's 80-77 victory, a game that saw eight lead changes and 11 ties, four in the final quarter.

The Fever were up by three at 77-74 on a jumper by Briann January with 2 minutes, 8 seconds remaining, but a missed 19-footer by Coleman followed by a 3-pointer from Lynx guard Renee Montgomery at 1:11 tied it up. Misses by both teams set up the final shot after the midcourt in-bounds to Moore with 1.7 seconds left.

"It was a hard game, plain and simple," Coleman said. "[Moore's] foul trouble fired her up."

Moore picked up her third foul in the opening two minutes of the second quarter Friday with the Lynx up by seven, and sat out the rest of the half as the Fever used a 14-4 run to take a four-point lead into the break.

But after Moore's fourth foul in the opening minutes of the third, the Lynx outscored Indiana 19-13 the rest of the period to take a two-point lead into the fourth.

It was no mystery who would take Minnesota's last attempt and Fever coach Stephanie White said she wanted only to make Moore hit a contested shot.

"I guess if you think about it and go through it again in your mind, all you have to say is, 'Stay down on the pump fake,' " White said. "But you're not thinking about a pump fake with 1.7 seconds. I felt like Marissa did everything she could do to keep her from getting the ball. ...

"Marissa wanted to contest and got suckered a little bit in the head and shoulder fake. But I just thought that was a heck of a shot, a heck of a play."

In the Fever's favor looking ahead to Game 4 at home is the fact they're well-versed playing under duress, having won eight of their past 10 elimination games, including a 4-0 record this postseason.

Tamika Catchings called her 3-of-10 shooting night, including a missed breakaway layup, "probably the worst I've played, period," though her 10 points and 10 rebounds marked her 25th playoff double-double, a WNBA record.

And if Indiana is to force a Game 5, it probably will fall on Catchings to lead the way as the future Hall of Famer has averaged 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in Indiana's 10 elimination games since 2012.

"We have a really good team," Catchings said. "Really young, really good. We've been in this situation before and before we came into this game, we talked about it being a best-of-three series ... so now our back is against the wall again and we have one more game to live."

Also of some encouragement to the Fever is that since the inception of the best-of-five WNBA finals format in 2005, the team that has won Game 3 after splitting the first two games has gone on to win the series only two of five times.

"Each game we've put another piece together," Coleman said. "We moved the ball well, we attacked in transition, but we've yet to play our best basketball."

Said Indiana's Erlana Larkins: "It's going to be tough, but we have to put this behind us. We have a short turnaround and we have to come out [Sunday] and maintain a lead."

The Lynx will be going after their third WNBA title in five years, and the Fever are looking for their second after winning in 2012.

"We did some really good things all night long," Catchings said. "That last-second shot, it doesn't go and we go into overtime. And who knows what the outcome of the game is. ...

"[But] it is a heartbreaker to lose like that."