Detroit rallies in second half to capture WNBA title

DETROIT (AP) -- Katie Smith has won Olympic gold, an American
Basketball League title and scored 5,000 points in the pros.

Entering this season, though, her Hall of Fame resume lacked one
crucial element: a WNBA championship.


Smith scored 17 points and had two crucial baskets in the fourth
quarter to seal the Detroit Shock's decisive Game 5 victory, 80-75,
over the defending champion Sacramento Monarchs. It was Detroit's
second WNBA title in four years.

Deanna Nolan was the finals MVP after a 24-point performance
Saturday, but it was Smith who was getting all the attention after
the game.

"This one is special," said Smith, who scored in double
figures in four of the five games of the series. "When you are
younger, you think you'll get chance after chance after chance, but
now I know that's not how it works."

Smith hurled the ball high in the air as time expired Saturday,
and the party was on at Joe Louis Arena and its announced crowd of
more than 19,000 -- the second-highest total in the history of the

"Katie's a great, great player and she did just what we
expected her to do," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She could
have easily been the MVP, too."

Shock owner William Davidson, who previously has won the NBA
title as Pistons owner and the Stanley Cup as owner of the Tampa
Bay Lightning, was presented with the WNBA trophy by league
president Donna Orender.

Davidson said he told Laimbeer at the beginning of the season
that one of his responsibilities as an owner was accepting
trophies. He jokingly added that he was glad Laimbeer got the

The trophy presentation was reminiscent of the glory days of the
Pistons with Laimbeer and assistant coach Rick Mahorn standing on
the podium as champions.

It was at The Palace of Auburn Hills, however, that those
Pistons and these Shock typically have played. But Saturday's game
was held at the home of the Detroit Red Wings because of a
scheduling conflict.

A Mariah Carey concert at The Palace forced the Shock and
Monarchs to play 30 miles south in Detroit.

But the fans were plenty loud and helped Detroit continue the
trend of the home team winning every deciding game in the 10-year
history of the WNBA Finals.

After the Monarchs decisively won Game 3 at home, the feeling
was that they would be able to take the series in Game 4, also at
Arco Arena, where they rarely lose.

But Detroit roared back with a 20-point win Wednesday.
Saturday's game was the only one of the series not decided by
double digits.

Sacramento, for a half at least, looked like it would win two
championships in a row. It held the lead for the entire second
quarter and took a 44-36 halftime advantage thanks to Kara Lawson's
running jumper with 1 second remaining.

But Nolan scored 10 points during a game-changing 18-3 run to
open the second half and the Shock never trailed again.

Nolan, a smooth shooting guard known as "Tweety" -- she even
has a tattoo of the famous cartoon bird -- said she was relieved
that the Shock pulled it out.

"It just felt unreal, because we worked so hard and then the
moment finally came and we won it all," she said.

It was title No. 2 for Nolan, fellow All-Star Cheryl Ford,
captain Swin Cash and starting center Ruth Riley, who posed for
pictures together on the floor after the game with their
championship hats on their heads.

In the locker room, they ran around dumping champagne on anybody
and anything they could find. Reserve guard Elaine Powell grabbed
Cash's good-luck teddy bear "Shocka" and poured bubbly all over

Another Powell -- Monarchs forward Nicole -- had a much different
reaction to the outcome.

"I'm really angry and upset with the way we played," she said.
"Detroit is a good team, but when you give a team those transition
shots in the final game of the series, it's very disappointing."

Nicole Powell refused to give up, draining a 3-pointer to draw
the Monarchs to within 78-75 with 33 seconds to play.

But Smith answered with a 17-foot jumper that she knew would
seal the win.

"It's over," she said she was thinking. "It's finally over."

In the first half the Shock were outplayed in much the same way
they were during decisive losses in Games 1 and 3. But they came on
strong when it counted.

Trailing by eight at the half, Detroit made its first four shots
of the third quarter and clamped down defensively, causing
Sacramento to miss 17 of its 19 attempts in the period.

The Monarchs were led by Lawson's 17 points and former Michigan
State star Kristin Haynie's 13.

Haynie, who hails from Mason, Mich., sat in the stands well
after the game ended, signing autographs and chatting with family
and friends.