INDIANAPOLIS – The narrative was written before she even got the ball. Everyone inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse knew who on the Minnesota Lynx was getting the shot with 1.7 seconds left and the game tied at 77.
This is where Maya Moore shines; it is simply what she does. When her team needs her, she answers the call. And she answered the call in a legendary manner Friday night in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals 2015 presented by Boost Mobile.
Moore caught Lindsay Whalen’s pinpoint inbounds pass, used a head-and-shoulder fake to create space between her and Indiana Fever forward Marissa Coleman and rose into a three-point jumper.
In a matter of 1.7 seconds, Moore dashed the Fever’s hopes of forcing overtime and put them on the brink of elimination.
“1.7 is a lot of time,” Moore said. “I’m a basketball junky. I watch basketball all the time. I’ve been playing almost my whole life, so those situations you see so often; and, again, having coaches that prepare us for those moments as well, putting us in end of game situations, but everything kind of fell into line. I did what I could. I can’t say I completely masterminded the whole situation. It was just a basketball move, and I was able to get it off.”
The moment left Fever fans speechless, and left Indiana head coach Stephanie White with one primary reaction. That’s just Maya being Maya.
“That was just a great player making a great play at the end of the game,” White said. “Great individual effort on her part.”
Moore’s bucket was the first buzzer-beater with under three seconds in a WNBA Finals game since Sue Bird’s jumper with 2.6 seconds left in Game 1 of the 2010 WNBA Finals. For Moore, it was her first buzzer beater in a long while.
“I don’t think I’ve hit one on the Lynx,” Moore said. “There was one close when I was overseas this past winter in China, but it wasn’t necessarily a buzzer beater. … I guess high school was the last buzzer beater. I was 16, to win an AAU championship.”
The crowd inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse stood in stunned silence as they hoped and pleaded for the basket to be overturned. Seconds felt like hours as the officials reviewed whether the ball left Moore’s hand before the buzzer sounded. Finally, the call came in. Basket good. Lynx win. Jubilation overcame the Lynx players, huddled up waiting anxiously on the court.
“It felt good,” Moore said of the shot. “There’s not much you can do after it leaves your hand until it goes in the rim other than hope it goes in. But it felt good coming off my hand. It was little off-center, but not too off-center that it couldn’t go in. I’m just glad it went in.”
Moore’s Lynx teammates spoke glowingly about her poise in that moment, the ability to measure her defender, create space with a fake and a dribble before draining the bucket. But they’ve come to expect nothing less from Moore. They practice these scenarios every day in practice.
So when the ball left Moore’s hands, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles both say they knew what was about to happen.
“When I saw that she had created herself some space and got a great look at the basket, it was a no doubter,” Augustus said. “I knew it was going in.”
“I actually thought she was going to put it up on the first attempt,” added Fowles, “but she was so poised and she took that one bounce and put it up there and I just knew it was going in, because she was too calm.”