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Memorable Game-Winners From WNBA Playoff History

On Sunday, Dearica Hamby’s game-winning 3-pointer entered the lexicon of “where were you when that happened” shots in basketball history. From “The Shot” by Teresa Weatherspoon back in 1999 to “Hamby’s Miracle” in 2019, here are 10 of the most memorable game-winning shots in WNBA Playoff history.

Dearica Hamby – 2019 Second Round – Las Vegas vs. Chicago, Sept. 15, 2019

Trailing by two with 13.5 seconds left and Chicago inbounding the ball, Las Vegas would need a miracle to come back and win this game. Enter Dearica Hamby. After Courtney Vandersloot took the inbounds pass and circled back to avoid the quick foul by Kelsey Plum, Sydney Colson came to help and forced Vandersloot to make a pass across half court. Hamby intercepted the pass, tightroped the sideline to avoid going out of bounds and launched a 38-footer (with seven seconds still on the clock) that went in with five seconds to play, giving the Aces a one-point lead that they would hold to pull off the improbable win.

Nneka Ogwumike – 2016 WNBA Finals, Game 5 – Los Angeles at Minnesota, Oct. 20, 2016

The 2016 WNBA Finals was one for the ages and it got the dramatic finish that it deserved. The winner-take-all Game 5 featured 24 lead changes and 11 ties as the Sparks and Lynx battled for WNBA supremacy. After Candace Parker’s layup gave the Sparks a one-point lead with 19.7 seconds remaining, the Lynx responded with Maya Moore sinking a turnaround jumper on the baseline to put the Lynx back up by one with 15.4 seconds left. With no timeouts, the Sparks got the ball to Chelsea Gray, who drove the length of the court and put up a fadeaway jumper that missed. Nneka Ogwumike grabbed the offensive rebound and went for a layup that was blocked by Sylvia Fowles with five seconds left. Ogwumike recovered the blocked shot and put up a fadeaway jumper that dropped with 3.1 seconds remaining. After Lindsay Whalen’s half-court heave went wide, the Sparks had captured the title.

Alana Beard – 2016 WNBA Finals, Game 1 – Los Angeles at Minnesota, Oct. 9, 2016

Ogwumike’s shot wasn’t the only game-winner from this series. Game 1 of the 2016 Finals went back and forth as the lead swapped 10 times and there were 19 ties. But the final lead change happened at the buzzer and it came from an unlikely hero as defensive specialist Alana Beard drained a corner 3-pointer to silence the Minnesota crowd and give the Sparks a 1-0 series lead.

Maya Moore – 2015 WNBA Finals, Game 3 – Minnesota at Indiana, Oct. 9, 2015

After her miracle shot on Sunday, Hamby admitted that she did not know how much time she had left before prematurely launching the game-winning shot. When it comes to time management, check out this game-winner from Maya Moore in Game 3 of the 2015 Finals against the Indiana Fever. With 1.7 seconds remaining and the score tied at 77, the Lynx inbound the ball with a chance to win the game or go to overtime. Lindsay Whalen finds Moore at the top of the key, just beyond the 3-point line. As Moore catches the pass, her defender Marissa Coleman flies toward her to defend the shot. Moore does not panic; she gives a quick fake, takes an escape dribble to her right and rises up for the shot. The ball leaves her fingertips with 0.1 seconds remaining and falls through the hoop to give the Lynx a 2-1 lead in a series they would win in five games.

Diana Taurasi – 2014 WNBA Finals, Game 3 – Phoenix at Chicago, Sept. 12, 2014

With the score tied and under 30 seconds to play, who else would you want to have the ball in their hands other than Diana Taurasi? The WNBA’s all-time scoring leader in the Regular Season and Playoffs delivered the game-winning and championship-clinching three-point play with 14.3 seconds to play in Game 3 of the 2014 WNBA Finals. Taurasi had the ball near midcourt and made her move with about 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock and 19 on the game clock. Taurasi drove right against the defense of Courtney Vandersloot and rose up for a running 14-footer as she faded toward the baseline. She not only made the shot but was fouled and completed the three-point play to achieve the sweep and earn the Mercury their third WNBA title.

Brittney Griner – 2013 West Semifinals, Game 3 – Phoenix at Los Angeles, Sept. 23, 2013

She may have been a rookie playing in her first WNBA Playoffs, but Brittney Griner sure didn’t act like it. In a win or go home Game 3 against the L.A. Sparks in the Western Conference Semifinals, it was the Mercury rookie that took the biggest shot of the series. Griner began the play by setting a screen for Diana Taurasi, who curled up from the baseline looking for the inbounds pass but was double-teamed. Instead of going to Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner found Griner in the post and passed her the ball. Griner took the pass, turned toward the baseline, rose up over league MVP Candace Parker and drained the 14-foot jumper to put Phoenix up with 4.9 seconds to play. What stands out most is Griner’s cool demeanor; she was taking the biggest shot of her young pro career but was completely unfazed by the circumstances. The Mercury would hold on to win the series and advance.

Sophia Young – 2008 West Finals, Game 2 – San Antonio vs. Los Angeles, Sept. 27, 2008

The Los Angeles Sparks were 1.3 seconds from a trip to the WNBA Finals, but Sophia Young and the San Antonio Silver Stars weren’t ready to go home just yet. Down by one, Young took the inbounds pass from Vickie Johnson, quickly turned and put up a 14-foot jumper to try to keep their season alive. The ball hit the backboard, the rim, then the backboard again before finally falling through the net to give San Antonio the win to force a decisive Game 3. The Silver Stars would go on to win Game 3 and advance to their first WNBA Finals in franchise history.

Deanna Nolan – 2003 WNBA Finals, Game 3 – Detroit vs. Los Angeles, Sept. 16, 2003

In 2002, the Detroit Shock finished with the worst record in the WNBA. In 2003, they were in a winner-takes-the-title Game 3 of the WNBA Finals against the Los Angeles Sparks. The Shock led by 11 points in the second half but knew that the two-time defending champions from L.A. would make a run. The Sparks would climb back and take a three-point lead with less than four minutes to play. After Ruth Riley cut the lead to one with a jumper and 2:20 on the clock, it was Deanna Nolan who put the Shock back up for good with her corner 3-pointer with 53 seconds left. The Sparks would keep fighting but clutch free throws from Nolan and Cheryl Ford kept them at bay as the Shock finished off the worst-to-first turnaround by winning their first WNBA title.

Nikki Teasley – 2002 WNBA Finals, Game 2 – Los Angeles vs. New York, Aug. 31, 2002

With the score tied at 66 and 13 seconds remaining in the game, the Sparks took a timeout to draw up a final shot to try to clinch their second straight WNBA title. Rookie point guard Nikki Teasley had the ball in her hands and was looking for a teammate. Mwadi Mabika was defended on the perimeter and Lisa Leslie was covered in the post, with Teasley’s defender Teresa Weatherspoon sagging off Teasley to prevent the post-entry pass to Leslie. The rookie had to call her own number and rose up for the 3-pointer that fell through with two seconds remaining and completed the Sparks’ sweep.

Teresa Weatherspoon – 1999 WNBA Finals, Game 2 – New York at Houston, Sept. 4, 1999

It’s the most famous shot in WNBA history and was the first shot mentioned after Hamby’s miracle on Sunday. It’s Game 2 of the 1999 WNBA Finals and the Liberty must win to force a winner-take-all Game 3 the following day. After trailing by 18 points in the first half, the Liberty rallied in the second half to get back in the game and set up the dramatic finish. New York tied the game at 65-65 with 16.3 seconds to play on a Crystal Robinson jumper, but the two-time defending champion Comets had an answer as Tina Thompson hit a turnaround jumper off the glass to put Houston up by two with 2.4 seconds to play. With no timeouts, the Liberty had to go and it was Weatherspoon that called for the ball. She took the inbounds pass, turned toward the sideline to avoid a charging Thompson, took two dribbles, then launched a prayer from beyond halfcourt that banked in at the buzzer. Weatherspoon fell to the court and was mobbed by her teammates as confetti fell from the rafters in what was supposed to be a championship celebration for Houston. Weatherspoon’s shot postponed that celebration by a day as the Comets would win Game 3 to claim their third straight WNBA title.