Nneka Ogwumike hit the game winner with 3.1 seconds left and won her first WNBA Championship in the process, lifting the Los Angeles Sparks past the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday, 77-76, in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals.
The three-time Stanford All-American and 2016 WNBA MVP finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, her third postseason double-double.
It was the perfect ending to an unbelievable season for Ogwumike. In the past month she was named the league’s most valuable player, the Associated Press player of the year, a unanimous selection to the All-WNBA First Team and a WNBA All-Defensive First Team performer. On Monday, the 2012 Stanford graduate was voted president of the WNBA players’ union executive council, a post she will hold for three years. Chiney Ogwumike was elected vice-president.
Ogwumike is Stanford’s seventh WNBA champion, joining Jeanette Pohlen (Indiana Fever, 2012), Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx, 2011), Brooke Smith (Phoenix Mercury, 2009), Nicole Powell (Sacramento Monarchs, 2005), Olympia Scott (Phoenix Mercury, 2007; Sacramento Monarchs, 2005) and Sonja Henning (Houston Comets, 1999).
She put together a staggering season in her fifth year as a pro to become the first Stanford women's basketball player to collect the WNBA's highest individual honor. A six-time Western Conference Player of the Week, Ogwumike concluded her regular season third in the league in scoring (19.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg) in leading the Sparks to a 26-8 overall record, a double-bye and the No. 2 seed in the WNBA Playoffs.
More impressively, Ogwumike finished 2016 as the most efficient shooter in the history of professional basketball. Her 66.5 field goal percentage is second all-time in WNBA single-season history to Tamika Raymond's 66.8 percent clip in 2003, but the 6-foot-2 forward also shot 16-of-26 from 3-point range (.615) and 146-of-168 from the line (.869).
Combined, Ogwumike ended the year with a true shooting percentage of 73.7 percent, well clear of Candice Dupree's previous WNBA record of 69.97 percent in 2010. Tyson Chandler in 2011-12 (.7081) and Artis Gilmore in 1981-82 (.7024) are the only NBA players to finish a season with a true shooting percentage of more than 70 percent.
She didn’t let up in the playoffs either. In the Sparks' nine playoff games, Ogwumike averaged 17.9 points on 62.5 percent shooting along with 9.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
Ogwumike became the first WNBA MVP to win a championship in the same season since Lauren Jackson did so with the Seattle Storm in 2010. Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury, 2009), Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks, 2001), Sheryl Swoops (Houston Comets, 2000) and Cynthia Cooper (Houston Comets, 1997 and 1998) are the other MVP's that also finished their season's with victories.
Stanford freshman golfer Andrea Lee continues to be recognized for her early success. She's atop the ANNIKA Award Watch List it was announced Thursday.
A win and a second-place finish propelled the rising star into first, over reigning ANNIKA award winner Bronte Law of UCLA, who beat Lee at the Stanford Intercollegiate last week.
Mariah Stackhouse, Sally Watson and Lauren Kim at the LGPA/Symetra Tour Qualifying School, Stage II, in Venice, Florida: Complete leaderboard
A report on former Stanford players in the NFL:
After poor performances from inside linebackers Nick Bellore and Michael Wilhoite, head coach Chip Kelly told the media on Monday that there would be changes at that position for Week 7. The 49ers surrendered 312 rushing yards in Sunday's 45-16 loss at Buffalo and Skov, one of San Francisco's most reliable special-teamers, is expected to see significant snaps on defense for the first time in 2016.
"Frankly, we need to get Ty the ball," said head coach Mike McCarthy after reviewing the tape of a Week 6 loss against Dallas. With running backs Eddy Lacy and James Starks both out, Montgomery could see even more action than last weekend. Montgomery, Stanford's all-time leader in kickoff return yards, carried the ball three times and was targeted 12 times by Aaron Rodgers against Dallas.
On Sunday, Fleener became the first NFL tight end to catch and run for a touchdown in the same game since Rob Gronkowski in 2011. With complementary tight end Josh Hill back in the mix, Fleener and the Saints are confident that they can do more to exploit mismatches in multiple tight end sets. Chemistry continues to improve between Drew Brees and Fleener, whom the Saints signed to a five-year, $36 million contract this past offseason.
Matchups to Watch
Seattle at Arizona
Four former Cardinal -- including Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Josh Mauro and Stepfan Taylor -- will appear on Sunday Night Football. Seattle, on the heels of a dramatic Week 6 win against Atlanta, faces off with the surging Arizona Cardinals. Mauro, who holds a +4.2 season rating in run defense according to Pro Football Focus, faces a Seattle offensive line which ranks dead last in run blocking, according to PFF.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
Andrew Luck and the 2-4 Indianapolis Colts look to right the ship in a divisional matchup against the 3-3 Tennessee Titans. Despite the Colts' record, the 2012 draft's top pick has enjoyed a successful return from injury. Luck, Pro Football Focus' second-rated quarterback in 2016, goes up against a porous Tennessee pass defense, which ranks 25th in the league in pass coverage, according to PFF.
Andrus Peat and Harry Anderson both left Week 6 contests briefly with injuries before returning. Peat was held out of practice on Wednesday, while Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano has declared Anderson week-to-week. As of Thursday, it remains unclear whether Peat or Anderson will suit up for Week 7. On Wednesday, Houston Texans' linebacker Brennan Scarlett was placed on injury reserve with a hamstring injury.