Sacramento 62, Connecticut 59
Griffith, Monarchs Rule WNBA
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 20 (Ticker) -- It took nine years, but the Sacramento Monarchs can finally call themselves WNBA royalty.
The Monarchs won their first WNBA title, riding All-Star Yolanda Griffith and rallying for a frantic 62-59 victory over the hard-luck Connecticut Sun.
"It feels great to actually feel what all the other champions have felt so far in the WNBA," Griffith said. "It's just a dream come true."
Sacramento trailed by 11 points in the first half and led by 10 in the second half before the game came down to a final shot. With a chance to tie the game, Nykesha Sales fired an airball on a 3-pointer, allowing Arco Arena to finally celebrate.
"It's a great feeling to do it at Arco," Monarchs guard Kara Lawson said. "We think we have the best fans in the league."
A former WNBA MVP and the team leader, Griffith had 14 points and 10 rebounds for her second straight double-double. She averaged 18.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the series and was named Finals MVP.
It was the second straight loss in the Finals for the Sun, who were beaten by Seattle last year. Connecticut was hampered by injuries to All-Star guard Lindsay Whalen, who clearly was not at full strength.
"They have what we wanted, and it's hard to take," Sun coach Mike Thibault said.
The Monarchs admittedly were nervous and looked it, falling into a 23-12 hole in the first 12 minutes.
"That's not uncommon," Monarchs coach John Whisenant said. "It's the first time to be here. You got 16,000 fans out there screaming and yelling and you want this badly."
Sacramento scored the last five points of the half to close to 31-25, then opened the second half with a 9-0 burst, taking a 34-31 lead on a basket by Griffith.
"I trust my teammates," Griffith said. "I knew the second half, we were going to come out and play."
"It was a disaster," Thibault said.
A jumper by Ticha Penicheiro capped a 7-0 run and extended the lead to 55-45 with 7:48 left before the Sun put together an 11-2 surge - most of it without Whalen - to make it a one-point game.
Griffith sank two foul shots for a 59-56 lead with 1:44 to go and Lawson added two 21 seconds later. A 3-pointer by Katie Douglas pulled Connecticut within 61-59 with 37 seconds to play, but Penicheiro grabbed an errant pass and drew a foul, making 1-of-2 from the line with 9.9 seconds left.
Nicole Powell scored 13 points and Rebekkah Brunson added 12 for the Monarchs. Asjha Jones scored a playoff career-high 21 points and Douglas added 15 for the Sun.