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Storm eclipses Sun to claim WNBA title

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Storm's Lauren Jackson (15) and her teammates celebrate Seattle's first professional sports championship in 25 years on Tuesday night.

Storm’s Lauren Jackson (15) and her teammates celebrate Seattle’s first professional sports championship in 25 years on Tuesday night.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

SEATTLE — Betty Lennox had another huge night, scoring 23 points to lead the Seattle Storm to their first WNBA title with a 74-60 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night.

Lauren Jackson added 13 points and seven rebounds and Seattle got a big contribution from Kamila Vodichkova, who scored 14 points after being held to a total of seven in the first two games of the finals.

At the buzzer, the Storm players raced to midcourt for a pileup while yellow and green confetti fell from the rafters.

The Storm claimed the city's first major professional sports championship in 25 years, going back to the SuperSonics winning the 1979 NBA title. It also gave Seattle coach Anne Donovan her first WNBA crown, having missed in 2001 with Charlotte.

"It feels great to win a championship," Donovan said.

Donovan is the first female coach to win a WNBA title, following Houston's Van Chancellor (1997-2000), Los Angeles' Michael Cooper (2001-02) and Detroit's Bill Laimbeer (2003).

Lennox, who scored 27 in Seattle's Game 2 victory that evened the best-of-three series, kept her momentum going in the decisive third game. She couldn't seem to miss in the second half.

Fans chanted, "Betty, Betty, Betty" when Lennox stepped to the free throw line with 2:35 remaining. She made both shots capping a 33-12 run that stretched Seattle's lead to an insurmountable 71-56.

They changed it to "M-V-P, M-V-P" when she returned to the line with 1:40 to go, and the fans got what they wanted moments later when WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman told the sellout crowd of 17,072 that Lennox was MVP.

"I'm speechless," Lennox said after accepting the award.

Lennox got a huge cheer when she left the game with 1:11 remaining, getting a smothering hug from Donovan and then making her way cheerfully down the Seattle bench.

"We're not a one-person team or a two-person team," said Seattle's Sue Bird, who scored eight points. "There's a reason we won tonight and that's because other people stepped up. They tried to take me and Lauren away, and you saw what happened: Betty Lennox. I can't say anything else."

Connecticut's Nykesha Sales, who scored a WNBA Finals-record 32 points in Seattle's Game 2 victory, shot 5-of-12 and was held to 18 points Tuesday. The rest of the Sun starters combined for only 26 points on 7-of-31 shooting.

Katie Douglas, who had 18 points in Game 1 and 14 in Game 2, scored all six of her points at the free throw line and was 0-for-11 from the field. Rookie Lindsay Whalen and Taj McWilliams-Franklin each scored 10 points.

The Storm opened a big lead after the break, and there seemed little chance they'd lose after Lennox threw in an off-balance jumper, drew a foul on Whalen and completed the three-point play for a 62-48 lead with 6:52 remaining.

Lennox added a layup on the next possession, and all Connecticut coach Mike Thibault could do was watch his team put up airballs, commit turnovers and watch Lennox hustle up and down the court.

The Storm toughened defensively as they extended their 37-36 halftime lead, holding Connecticut without a field goal for 12 1/2 minutes in the second half, and frustration began to show for the Sun.

Seattle led 43-36 after scoring the first six points of the second half, with Bird leading the Storm's transition game for two easy baskets. She added another fast-break bucket during a 12-4 run over the first 4 minutes of the second half.

From there, the Storm simply took over, and Seattle's players were still dancing at midcourt in front of a mostly filled arena some 15 minutes after the trophies were presented.