AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 7 (Ticker) -- Swin Cash
and the Detroit Shock muscled their way to the WNBA Finals.
NBA TV highlights from|
Play of the Day:
Postgame news conference:
Cash collected 20 points and 10 rebounds and rookie Cheryl Ford
also had a double-double as the Shock captured the Eastern Conference crown and completed a two-game sweep of the Connecticut Sun with a 79-73 victory.
Detroit is in the WNBA Finals for the first time in team history. The Shock will open the series Friday against the Los Angeles Sparks or Sacramento Monarchs.
"We talked before the game," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We promised an Eastern Conference championship to the organization, to our fans, and we're very proud."
Detroit's Deanna Nolan
nailed four 3-pointers and scored 17 points before leaving with a back injury with 5:28 to go. X-rays were negative and Nolan is listed as day-to-day.
Ford finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds and teamed with Cash to dominate Connecticut's frontcourt. The Shock held a 39-26 edge on the glass and finished with a WNBA playoff-record 21 offensive rebounds.
"(Ford) was out there competing hard, scoring, rebounding," Laimbeer said. "She got all the rebounds down the stretch. When we needed them, she got them all. I think it was a great growing experience for Cheryl today."
The Sun rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and took a 69-65 lead on Katie Douglas' basket with 4:23 remaining. But Kedra Holland-Corn's 3-pointer triggered a 10-0 burst that put Detroit ahead for good.
Elaine Powell gave the Shock the lead with a basket with 2:16 left and Cash completed a three-point play with 51 seconds to go. Two foul shots by Ford capped the spurt 13 seconds later.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin collected 17 points and 13 rebounds for Connecticut, which lost all six meetings with Detroit this season.
"I'd like to congratulate Detroit," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "They've had a great season and will be a great representative for the Eastern Conference in the Finals. We played as hard as we can possibly play and it wasn't good enough."
Last season, Detroit lost its first 13 games and finished with a 9-23 mark, tied for worst in the league. Laimbeer, who took over after 10 games a year ago, has led a turnaround that saw the Shock compile a WNBA-best 25-7 record.
"Everybody's saying, 'Well, you still have time to grow as a team,'" Cash said. "No, we don't. This is our year. We want to get it done."
Shannon Johnson scored 16 points for the Sun, but Nykesha Sales was held in check. Sales, who averaged 16.1 points during the regular season, managed just seven on 3-of-8 shooting.
Connecticut gave veteran center Rebecca Lobo a rare start in an attempt to neutralize the Shock's Ruth Riley, who had 17 points and eight rebounds in Game 1. Riley managed only six points on 2-of-11 shooting.
"Rebecca has always had a lot of success against Ruth Riley," Thibault said.
Connecticut concluded a successful campaign in its first year in its new home after moving from Orlando.
Douglas scored nine points and Wendy Palmer made all three shots for six points in six minutes off the bench against her former team.