Game 5 was a tough, back-and-forth contest that went (almost) to the wire
. Sacramento was the better team in the first half, and the Monarchs went to the locker room with an eight point lead.
"Coach (Bill Laimbeer) was very mad at us at halftime,” Deanna Nolan said
. “We weren’t diving for loose balls, we were making too many turnovers. He thought we just gave up."
Nolan, who had been just 4 for 13 in the first half, came out and hit her first five shots. (When she's on, she's really on
.) Detroit's furious run that quickly replaced
the deficit with a lead. The sold-out Joe Louis crowd started rocking.
In the final minutes, the Monarchs put together a comeback
, pulling to within one possession with 33 seconds left
. But Katie Smith, the first player to win titles in the ABL and WNBA, hit a jumper to ice the game. “I knew I was going to find a shot and knock it down,” she said
. “I knew that it was over after it went though. It was a great feeling. This series was a lot of fun.”
Sacramento was left wondering what happened -- how did things go so wrong
again in the second half? Paul reports that over the course of the series, the Monarchs won the first half by 37 points, but Detroit won the second by 28. Sacto had a first half rebounding advantage of 16, but a second half deficit of 37.
After the game, fingers began to point. Bee columnist Ailene Voison lays the blame squarely at Ticha's feet
Starting point guards on defense-oriented teams can't shoot 29 percent in a best-of-five series championship series. Those days are history.
She says Whisenant should have played Haynie more, and she wonders whether the Monarchs should bring Penicheiro back next year.
For his part, Coach Whiz blamed
some players, including DeMya Walker, who didn't warm up properly at half time. "It's too late after the fact to go out a little bit stiff because you don't get out of the locker room soon enough." Walker had no points and three turnovers in the second half.
Nolan took home the MVP. She finished
with 24 points, 4 assists, 4 boards, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. "She's extremely talented, can jump waist-high and shoots the mid-range jumper as well as anybody in the WNBA," Whisenant said
But this championship belongs to Smith
more than anyone. After the game, she spoke with Voepel and reflected on her career
It's important to never forget where this game came from. To give the mindset to the younger generation: Don't take it for granted. Don't just expect this is going to be here forever and it will keep growing and growing. You have to keep this thing moving.
As Voepel says, no one has done that better than Katie Smith.