PHOENIX (AP) " Maya Moore scored 20 points and Natasha Howard added 17 to help the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx beat the Phoenix Mercury 82-67 on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep of the semifinal series.
The top-seeded Lynx, who also eliminated the Mercury in the penultimate round a year ago, await the winner of Los Angeles-Chicago in their return trip to the WNBA finals.
Courtney Vandersloot scored 17 points as the Chicago Sky held off Los Angeles Sparks 70-66 to force a Game 4 in their semifinal series.
Imani Boyette added 13 points and Clarissa Dos Santos had 10 for the fourth-seeded Sky, who have been playing without leading scorer and rebounder Elena Delle Donne. The 2015 league MVP underwent right thumb surgery on Sept. 13.
League MVP Nneka Ogwumike had 16 of her 22 points in the first half and Kristi Toliver added 13 for the second-seeded Sparks, who won the first two games of the series at home by double digits.
At Phoenix, Diana Taurasi had 12 points, after averaging 26.5 in her first four playoff games this year, as the eighth-seeded Mercury again had trouble with turnovers (15) and shot just 41 percent from the field. Taurasi was held to just one point in the second half, missing her three attempts from the field, all from 3-point range.
Howard had six points during a key third quarter run that saw the Lynx pull away as they did against Phoenix in the second quarter of Game 1 and the third quarter of Game 2. Minnesota started the second half on an 8-1 run and built a 55-43 advantage after six minutes and held on.
Lindsay Whalen added 11 points, all in the first half, for the Lynx, who have appeared in the WNBA Finals in five of the last six years, winning the title three times.
DeWanna Bonner added 12 points and six rebounds for the Mercury.
Penny Taylor, who has won three WNBA titles with Phoenix and two Olympic silver medals for Australia, finished with four points but ended her career third in franchise history in points and games, and second in steals, assists and 3-pointers. She announced her retirement after 13 seasons during the Rio Olympics break.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings