- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) Clinging to a two-point lead in the final minute, Los Angeles' Latasha Byears turned the ball over on a 3-second violation.
Then New York's Tari Phillips hit a 15-footer to tie the game, putting the Sparks' chance at retaining their WNBA title in jeopardy.
But rookie Nikki Teasley, dogged by 4-for-11 shooting, hit a 3-pointer for the go-ahead basket with 2.1 seconds remaining and the Sparks beat the Liberty 69-66 yesterday to successfully defend their championship.
"They'd been backing off me all night, obviously my shot wasn't falling. I was fortunate enough to knock the shot down," said Teasley, who played at North Carolina and was drafted by Portland, then traded to the Sparks in April.
"I've never hit a game-winning shot. I've won an AAU tournament when I was 10 years old, but nothing ever big, nothing in college," Teasley said. "I didn't get to play in the state championships in high school, but I'll you what, I'm not disappointed because this is the one to get."
Only the Sparks and the Houston Comets, who claimed the first four WNBA titles, have won the championship in the league's six-year history.
Guarded by Teresa Weatherspoon, Teasley shot from 21 feet out near the Sparks bench.
"I was kind of trying to pick my poison," said Weatherspoon, who was playing between Teasley and Sparks star Lisa Leslie. "If I could do it all over again, I would do it differently. She made a good shot."
The Sparks joined their Staples Center tenants, the Lakers, as professional basketball champions for another year.
"Hey, if you're playing for an L.A. team, you're bound to get a championship," Sparks forward DeLisha Milton said. "There is something special about this city. It breeds championships."
Leslie scored 17 points, Mwadi Mabika added 12 and Teasley had 11 points and 11 assists as the Sparks rallied in the second half after squandering a 14-point lead.
Leslie was selected the most valuable player of the Finals for the second year in a row, completing her second straight sweep of the All-Star and finals MVP awards.

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