- WNBA - Comets complete WNBA threepeat

Comets complete WNBA threepeat


HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Comets' third WNBA championship was for Kim.

 Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper holds up the jersey of former teammate and friend Kim Perrot as Houston begins to celebrate its threepeat.

One day after playing one of her worst games, Cynthia Cooper played one of her toughest, scoring 24 points as the Comets remained the league's only champion, beating the New York Liberty 59-47 Sunday.

Even in the heat of the championship game, thoughts were never far from Comets guard Kim Perrot, who died Aug. 19 following a seven-month battle with cancer.

"We said that Kim wasn't here physically, but she was definitely here in spirit," forward Sheryl Swoopes said. "She will always be a part of the Comets."

One banner read "3 for 10" imploring the Comets to win their third WNBA title for Perrot, who wore No. 10. The Comets did just that by winning the final game of the best-of-3 series.

In the emotional final moments, the crowd broke into chants of "three for Kim, three for Kim."

Cooper, who was just 1-for-10 from the field in Saturday's 68-67 last-second loss, equaled that with her first shot Sunday and then helped the Comets break it open in the second half. She finished 13-of-15 from the foul line.

"I wanted to establish that I'd be a force to be reckoned with from the beginning," Cooper said. "It feels good, especially after all we've been through this year."

Liberty coach Richie Adubato called Cooper the difference.

"Both teams played good defense," Adubato said. "I thought we stopped their people and they stopped our people. The person that made the difference was Cynthia Cooper."

  Now that Houston has downed New York for the 1999 WNBA title, a trend seems to be emerging for the country's pro league championships.

With Houston's 59-47 victory Sunday, the Comets became the third Texas-based team to beat a New York-area team for a pro title this season.

In June, the Dallas Stars beat the Buffalo Sabres for the Stanley Cup.

That same month, the San Antonio Spurs beat the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals.

The Comets put on a late spurt for a 33-25 halftime lead and they expanded that to 38-27 with 15:33 left in the game, then both sides got sloppy. Houston didn't score during a span of 6:50, while the Liberty missed nine straight shots at one point.

The Liberty closed the gap to 38-31 before Tina Thompson broke Houston's scoreless steak and started a 10-0 run for a 48-31 lead with 4:28 to play. Thompson also had a jumper and three-point play for seven of the 10 points.

Thompson had 13 points and Swoopes added 11 for the Comets. Sue Wicks was the only Liberty in double figures with 11 points.

Comets coach Van Chancellor wore the same jacket and tie that he wore in the 1997 championship game and went to church before the game.

"After all this team has gone through, I don't know any group of players that deserves this more," Chancellor said. "If you don't think the spirit of Kim Perrot is not pulling this team through, you're dead wrong."

The Comets won the first two WNBA championships and they were within two seconds of wrapping up a third title Saturday when a desperation 52-foot shot by Teresa Weatherspoon gave the Liberty a 68-67 victory, forcing Game 3.

Swoopes and Cooper combined to score 20 of Houston's first 22 points.

The Comets had a 12-2 run that helped them take a 20-11 lead with 8:16 to go in the first half and when the Liberty cut the lead to 26-25 with 2:27 to go, the Comets scored seven straight for a 33-25 halftime lead.

The Comets hit all 13 of their first-half free throws and 27 of 32 for the game. New York was 8-for-9 for the game.

The Comets will share their victory with the city of Houston during a downtown parade and rally Wednesday afternoon. Houston mayor Lee Brown will be the host.

"Our Houston Comets have been through so much this season, and yet they showed an unwavering will to win," Brown said in a statement. "The team has endured a true test of the heart that goes far beyond winning another title."

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