Tamika Catchings scored seven of her team- high 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Indiana Fever held off the Minnesota Lynx, 76-70, in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
Erlana Larkins added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Fever, who had been 0-2 against the Lynx this season.
Erin Phillips contributed 13 points and Briann January netted 11 in the victory.
"We are not here just to be in the Finals, we are here for a great opportunity, and both teams, we both want it bad," Catchings said. "So every game is going to be just like this game. It's going to be tough, it's going to be hard-nosed. Boards and defense are going to be the story of the game."
Seimone Augustus scored a game-high 23 points, while Maya Moore finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lynx, who are trying to become the first back-to-back champions since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001-02.
Rebekkah Brunson also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards in defeat.
Game 2 of this best-of-five series will be on Wednesday.
The Fever carried a 25-20 lead into the second quarter and started the frame with a 7-2 run to open up a 10-point advantage, but Minnesota answered with eight straight points to get back within 32-30 with around five minutes remaining in the half.
The Lynx would not be able to knot the game, however, and Indiana held a 43-40 lead at the break.
After January opened the third quarter with a shot from beyond the arc, Minnesota reeled off a 14-4 spurt to go on top, 54-50, and did not trail for the remainder of the third, taking a 58-56 edge into the final quarter.
But the Lynx would be held to just four points over the first six-plus minutes of the fourth while the Fever ripped off 16 to regain a double-digit cushion, 72-62.
Minnesota would not get closer than five points from there as Indiana cruised to victory.
"We came in knowing Indiana's defense was going to be a tough, stifling defense, and I feel like the shots that we got were shots that we normally take and make," Augustus said. "We have to give credit where credit is due. They did an awesome job of making every cut and making every shot difficult."