INDIANAPOLIS -- For three quarters on Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Minnesota Lynx standout forward Maya Moore was more of a spectator than a participant in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.
As the Lynx built a 59-57 lead through 30 minutes, Moore played only 12:11 and scored 12 points.
But after being saddled with foul trouble throughout the night, Moore saved her best for last. Her 3-pointer from directly in front of the basket as time expired lifted Minnesota to an 80-77 victory over the Indiana Fever, giving the Lynx a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
"We wanted to make her take a tough shot," Indiana coach Stephanie White said.
Moore, who finished with a game-best 24 points, received an inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left, dribbled to her right and let fly with 0.2 on the clock. The horn sounded as the ball passed through the net.
In the final 10 minutes, Moore scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, including 2 of 3 from beyond the 3-point line.
"I don't think I have hit one of those with the Lynx," Moore said of her game-winner. "There was one close when I was overseas this past winter in China, but it wasn't necessarily a buzzer-beater. So that was pretty close today to not making it. That was pretty fun, pretty fun just to finish that way.
"With the fouls, it was not a situation that I want to be in. I don't want to put my team in that situation. Thankfully, they played through my lack of good judgment, and our bench played wonderful."
Indiana, which has lost two in a row after winning Game 1 in Minneapolis, led 77-74 with 2:08 remaining after guard Briann January's basket. But the Fever did not score again and the Lynx tied it at 77 with 1:10 left on a 3-pointer from guard Renee Montgomery, who had 12 of the 28 points scored by non-starters.
"That was big for us to play for so long without Maya because she usually plays 38 minutes," Montgomery said. "It is hard to realize it in the moment, but with her, we are witnessing greatness. She puts up big numbers when everyone knows the entire scouting report is focused on her."
Guard Seimone Augustus added 13 points for the Lynx, who made 32 of 52 shots from the field, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range. Center Sylvia Fowles contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds.
"Coach drew up a play; we had options to go into different people. They collapsed on me and left Maya wide open," Fowles said of the winning shot. "She was poised, took one dribble and banked the shot. You can't ask for anything more than that."
"We put ourselves in a position to win the game, which is all you can ask," January said. "There is no reason for us to hang our heads."
Indiana shot 50 percent (30 of 60) from the field.
The Fever led at halftime in Game 2 and again in Game 3 but failed to hold the advantage each time and now must win Game 4 on Sunday night to force a fifth and deciding game on Wednesday in Minnesota.
Trailing 34-28 midway through the second quarter, Indiana took advantage of Moore's third foul and finished the half on a 14-4 run to seize a 42-38 advantage through 20 minutes.
Johnson was the first-half catalyst for the Fever with 14 points, making 6 of 7 shots from the field before intermission.
Minnesota led by seven twice in the second quarter -- 28-21 and 30-23 -- but with Moore on the bench, Indiana used clutch 3-pointers from Johnson and January along with hounding defense to enter the locker room with a lead.
NOTES: Indiana honored former Fever standouts Katie Douglas and Tammy Sutton-Brown, both now retired, during Game 3. Douglas and Sutton-Brown helped the Fever win the 2012 WNBA championship. ... Indiana is participating in a WNBA-record 11th consecutive postseason. ... Entering Friday's game, Indiana and Los Angeles were tied for the most WNBA playoff victories with 34 each. ... Bankers Life Fieldhouse has been the host for more playoff games (30) than any other venue. ... Fever standout Catchings broke a WNBA postseason record Friday by participating in her 65th career playoff game. ... Minnesota was in danger of going down 2-0 in the series after it trailed 41-39 at halftime of Game 2, but thanks to Fowles' 21 points and nine rebounds, the Lynx outscored the Fever 38-30 in the second half Tuesday night to pull even at a game apiece with a 77-71 victory.