Penicheiro, Maiga Earn WNBA Championship

September 21, 2005
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Sept. 21, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Add a championship banner to the Monarchs...the Sacramento Monarchs that is. Two former Lady Monarchs, Ticha Penicheiro and Hamchetou Maiga, both earned WNBA Championship rings as they helped the Monarchs to a 62-59 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game Four.

Penicheiro, the WNBA' all-time assist leader, the 1996 and 1997 CAA Player of the Year and 1995 CAA Rookie of the Year, had five points, six rebounds, and three assists in the game. Meanwhile, Maiga, the 2001 CAA Player of the Year and three-time CAA All-Defensive Team honoree, added two points and two assists from off the bench.

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.

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.

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.

The Monarchs admittedly were nervous and looked it, falling into a 23-12 hole in the first 12 minutes.

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.

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.