Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Detroit wins WNBA title

AP , YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN

The Detroit Shock won their third WNBA title in six seasons by beating the San Antonio Silver Stars 76-60 to sweep the best-of-five finals on Sunday.

Detroit beat the league’s best regular-season team, winning the title at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center, a venue forced upon them because of a scheduling conflict.

For Katie Smith, named most valuable player of the finals, the win meant a league championship less than two months after she and her US teammates took gold in Beijing.

Detroit became the second team in league history to win a third championship. Only the Houston Comets, who won the first four (1997-2000), have more. Los Angeles (2001, 2002) is the only other team with more than one.

It was an especially sweet win for the Shock, who let last year’s title slip away, losing it to the Phoenix Mercury. They also lost Cheryl Ford — a stalwart on the previous title runs — to a knee injury in July.

Sunday’s game was tight for three quarters with San Antonio leading by six on several occasions. But the veteran Shock were too much to take in the fourth with the title on the line.

The Shock enjoyed a 49-45 lead after three periods, and they quickly extended it to 55-47 on Taj McWilliams-Franklin’s one-hander off the glass less than 4 minutes into the fourth.

A pair of free throws by McWilliams-Franklin only seconds later gave the Shock their first double-digit lead of the game.

Then Smith, who missed almost the entire second quarter because of foul trouble, sealed it.

She hit a long jumper and then drained a high-arching 3 that made it 62-47 and sent the crowd into a frenzy.

It might not have been The Palace and its seating capacity of more than 22,000, but the cozy Convocation Center and its 9,000-plus seats served as a fine home-court advantage for Detroit — which won all three playoff games here.

One sign in the stands said simply: “Not in our rental unit.”

The Silver Stars had the league’s best regular-season record thanks in part to going 14-0 against the East. They powered their way through the conference playoffs, but were no match for the Shock, losing by eight points twice on their home court before the series shifted to Michigan.

Top scorer Becky Hammon was held in check for much of the series and was a non-factor in Game 3, managing only five points on 1-for-10 shooting. Belgian center Ann Wauters led San Antonio with 19 points.

Smith had a team-high 18 points for Detroit, which also got 13 from McWilliams-Franklin and 12 from Deanna Nolan, the 2006 finals MVP.

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