The Baylor Bears completed perhaps the greatest season in college basketball history on Tuesday night, defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 80-61 in Denver to cap a perfect season and win the NCAA championship.The victory was the 40th of the season for the Bears, becoming the first team — men or women — to hit the 40-win mark in a season. It is the seventh undefeated season in women’s history and the second national championship for Baylor, which also won the title in 2005.
All-American Brittney Griner finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
After trailing 34-28 at the half, Notre Dame closed to within three at 42-39 with 15:27 to play. But the Bears finally took over, a 17-2 run in the middle of the half stretching the lead to 71-50 with less than seven minutes to play.
The teams met in the preseason WNIT final on Nov. 17, with the Lady Bears winning in Waco, Texas, 94-81 behind Griner’s gem of a game. That night the junior center scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked five shots.
The Fighting Irish were game from the get-go, trading baskets with the Bears early on and even taking leads of 7-6 and 9-8, the latter with 16:03 to play in the first half. But Baylor went on an 8-0 run in less than four minutes to grab a 16-9 lead and take control of the game….Griner was named MVP.
SAN ANTONIO (AP)
There were the record number of first-time WNBA All-Stars, and a halftime ceremony honoring the best players in WNBA history. Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas didn’t fit into either category.
So she made her mark another way.
The four-time All-Star capped one of the closest WNBA midseason showcases ever by hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 56.7 seconds left, and the Eastern Conference hung on for just its third All-Star game victory over the West, 118-113 on Saturday.
”We got together during practice and the first thing we said was that we wanted to win,” said New York Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter, who led the East with 17 points. ”Alongside of having fun we wanted to be victorious today and we accomplished that. Good job.”
At halftime, Pondexter was also named one of the WNBA’s Top 15 players of all-time, in celebration of this league’s 15th season.
Douglas finished with 15 points and helped the East win just its third All-Star game in 10 tries – but also third in the last four. Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles scored 15, and headlined a record group of 10 players who made their All-Star debuts in this year’s game.
Swin Cash led the West with 21 points and 12 rebounds and was named MVP for the second time. Former WNBA star Lisa Leslie is the only other player with multiple All-Star MVP awards.
Cash, the Seattle Storm’s four-time All-Star, was also named MVP in 2009. She is also the league’s first All-Star MVP from the losing team.
”I think so many players played well. It could’ve been anyone,” Cash said.
Tanisha Wright wasn’t about to let Seattle suffer its longest skid in six years.
So the Storm guard took over, scoring 11 of her 17 points in the third quarter to lead Seattle to a 73-55 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Thursday night.
Swin Cash added 15 points, and Camille Little had 10 for the Storm (8-7), who snapped a three-game losing streak – their longest slide since late in the 2009 season.
”That’s the kind of basketball we want to play right there – I don’t know any way else to put it,” Wright said. ”That’s the kind of basketball we want to play, we need to play, and in order to be successful, we have to play. We wanted to go into the (All-Star) break on a good note after that three-game skid.”
The Storm haven’t lost more than three in a row since 2005.
Sophia Young led the Silver Stars (9-5) with 12 points. San Antonio missed a chance to record what would have been the best start in franchise history had it won on Thursday night. Becky Hammon chipped in 11 points, and Jia Perkins had 10.
”This is one of the most physical teams in the league, if not the most physical, and we just didn’t handle it very well,” Hammon said. ”It was one of those nights where everything went wrong. They came out with a purpose and really focused and put it on us.”
The Storm, whose losing streak started with a 69-66 defeat at San Antonio last Thursday, effectively put the game away at the outset of the third quarter.
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP)
All-Stars Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince combined for 47 points to lead the Chicago Sky to a 78-69 win over the Seattle Storm on Tuesday night.
Fowles, the WNBA scoring leader, had 24 points and nine rebounds, and Prince added 23 points for Chicago (8-8), which won its second in three games. Both players were announced as All-Star reserves at halftime.
Sue Bird scored 26 points for the Storm (7-7), who dropped their third straight.
Chicago led 69-68 with 3:15 to play following Bird’s fourth 3-pointer of the game, but Prince scored four points during a 9-1 run to help the Sky take control.
Ashley Robinson had 14 points and Swin Cash added 10 for Seattle.
Robinson, making her first start, and Cash had eight first-half points apiece as the Storm struggled through 11-of-35 shooting (31.4 percent). The Sky weren’t much better, going 11 of 30 (36.7 percent).
Bird’s four-point play with 1.6 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave Seattle a 33-30 halftime lead. She hit a 3-pointer, was fouled by Prince and made the free throw.
Chicago scored nine unanswered third-quarter points to open a 39-36 advantage, the first of two six-point leads in the quarter.
Seattle reclaimed the lead with eight straight points late, including consecutive 3-pointers from Bird and Smith, before Prince’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer cut the Storm’s lead to 55-54 entering the fourth.
Prince’s steal with 45 seconds to play helped seal the win. She fed to Fowles, who had a layup, drew a foul and hit a free throw for a seven-point lead.
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The Seattle Storm and Los Angeles Sparks are struggling to adjust without their biggest respective stars, but the Storm at least have the luxury of heading home after a disappointing three-game road trip.
Four straight losses – the last two without Candace Parker – have Los Angeles’ eight-game road swing off to a sour start heading into Saturday night’s visit with the Storm, who try to avenge a 24-point loss to the Sparks prior to Lauren Jackson’s injury.
Parker and Jackson have won three of the WNBA’s past four MVP awards, so it’s no surprise that Los Angeles (4-5) and Seattle (5-4) are having difficulties winning with their stars on the mend.
While the Storm have split four games since Jackson suffered a hip injury, the Sparks were having issues even before Parker tore the lateral meniscus in her right knee. They lost the first two games of their trip by double digits with Parker and have fallen twice without her, the latest an ugly 101-82 defeat – after leading by eight at halftime – Tuesday at Phoenix.
“We weren’t tough mentally today and that’s sad to say with as many veterans as we have on this team,” said Ebony Hoffman, who led the Sparks with 21 points and eight rebounds. “It’s kind of inexcusable and I’m speechless at our effort today.”
A loss Saturday would be Los Angeles’ fifth straight for the first time since Aug. 3-11, 2007, but their current 0-5 road record is nothing new. The Sparks dropped their first seven road games of 2010, including a pair of losses in Seattle by an average of 18.0 points.
Los Angeles lost all seven meetings with the Storm last season – including a two-game sweep in the Western Conference semifinals – but earned a small bit of revenge June 19 at home. The Sparks held Seattle to 30.3 percent shooting and forced 23 turnovers in a 74-50 rout.
Turnovers again hurt the Storm on Tuesday at Indiana to prevent them from closing their trip with a second victory. Seattle gave the ball away 19 times and allowed Indiana to shoot 53.7 percent in a 78-61 defeat.
“Tough loss,” said forward Swin Cash, who had 13 points. “It will be good to get off the East Coast.”
The league’s defending champions are 3-1 at home, but without Jackson, their lack of offensive production may be starting to catch up with them. The Storm are averaging a league-low 69.0 points – 67.2 since Jackson’s injury.
Cash and Sue Bird have continued to produce, but Seattle is hoping it has someone up front who can at least pick up some of Jackson’s production. Polish center Ewelina Kobryn, who played briefly at Connecticut and Indiana during the road trip, finally had a chance to go through a full practice Thursday.
“Now that I am here finally in Seattle, I hope I can help the team,” Kobryn told the Storm’s official website.
Reigning WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson has decided to have surgery to repair the torn labrum in her left hip and will likely be out for eight to 12 weeks.
The Seattle Storm made the announcement on Wednesday. Jackson is scheduled to have the surgery Thursday at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., performed by Dr. Marc Philippon.
Jackson said after talking with the doctors and her family, surgery was determined to be the best course of action and she hopes to be able to return before the end of the WNBA season. Seattle’s regular season ends on Sept. 11 at home against Chicago.
The three-time league MVP hurt the hip last week in a victory over Tulsa. The initial plan was for Jackson to have three weeks of rest and physical therapy before deciding if surgery was needed
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Reserve forward Ebony Hoffman scored 12 points to lead a balanced offense as the Los Angeles Sparks beat defending champion Seattle 74-50 on Sunday night, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Storm.
Kristi Toliver scored 11 points and Candace Parker and rookie Jantel Lavender each added 10 for Los Angeles (3-1). The Sparks, who started 1-6 last season, had lost the last five regular season meetings with the Storm, and were swept in the playoffs last year.
”It was a test for us to see where we stand, and I think we showed that we’re a great team,” Hoffman said. ”But it’s going to be another test to go back to Seattle and play there. We just have to keep capitalizing and keep building on where we are right now.”
Sue Bird scored 15 points to lead Seattle (2-2), which came in allowing a league-low 68.6 points per game.
”We knew what their strengths were and time and time again I think we had lapses where we let them do what they wanted to do,” Bird said. ”They seemed very hungry, very motivated. They play hard every possession and they’re very versatile.”
Los Angeles shut down an MVP player for the second straight game, limiting Lauren Jackson to nine points on 3-for-14 shooting.
The Lynx snapped Seattle’s 18-game regular season home winning streak. The Storm were 17-0 at home last year and won their opener on Saturday. Including the playoffs, Seattle had won 22 straight at home.
Sue Bird scored 24 points and Swin Cash had 18 to lead Seattle (1-1). Three-time MVP Lauren Jackson was held to nine points.
Minnesota scored the first 22 points of the game, holding the Storm scoreless until Jackson’s turnaround jumper with 2:57 remaining in the first quarter.
”We didn’t see that coming,” Reeve said of the lopsided start. ”But our defense was pretty good. They missed a lot of shots. And for us to get our early offense, that’s our strength. We’re awfully good when we play off of misses. We’re able to get that ball out quick.”
Bird scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to help cut a 30-point, second-half deficit to six with 29 seconds left. The Lynx then made six free throws to seal the win.
”When you spot someone 22 points it’s always hard to come back,” Cash said. ”I will tell you that the message was sent and delivered. Now we go back to the drawing board, watch our breakdowns and just get better.”
Minnesota, which led 50-24 at halftime, last won in Seattle 86-81 in overtime on June 15, 2005.