1997 WNBA Championship

The 1997 WNBA Championship was the championship game of the 1997 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Houston Comets, top-seeded team of the league, defeated the New York Liberty, second-seeded team, 65-51 to win the league's inaugural championship.

The Comets' 18–10 record gave them home court advantage over New York (17–11).

For the playoffs, the top four teams overall in the league were seeded one to four. Top seed Houston played the four seed Charlotte and the two seed New York played number three Phoenix.

1997 WNBA Championship
1997 WNBA Finals logo
TeamCoachWins
Houston Comets Van Chancellor 1
New York Liberty Nancy Darsch 0
DatesAugust 30
MVPCynthia Cooper (Houston Comets)
Eastern FinalsNew York defeated Phoenix 59-41
Western FinalsHouston defeated Charlotte 70-54

Road to the finals

Houston Comets New York Liberty
18–10 (.643)
1st East, 1st overall
Regular season 17–11 (.607)
2nd East, 2nd overall
Defeated the (4) Charlotte Sting, 70-54 WNBA Semifinals Defeated the (3) Phoenix Mercury, 59-41

Regular season series

The Liberty won 3 of the 4 games in the regular season series:

June 26
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 8, 1998)
New York Liberty 62, Houston Comets 60 (OT)
July 2
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 8, 1998)
Houston Comets 67, New York Liberty 70
July 4
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 8, 1998)
New York Liberty 65, Houston Comets 58
August 17
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 8, 1998)
Houston Comets 70, New York Liberty 55

Game summary

Time listed below is Eastern Daylight Time.

August 30
7:00pm
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 8, 1998)
New York Liberty 51, Houston Comets 65
Scoring by half: 24-28, 27-37
Pts: Hampton (13)
Rebs: Hampton (13)
Asts: Weatherspoon (5)
Pts: Cooper (25)
Rebs: Jackson (11)
Asts: Cooper (4)
Compaq Center, Houston
Attendance: 16,285
Referees:
  • Bell
  • Courteau
  • Palmer

The Houston Comets became the first WNBA champions, riding the unstoppable Cynthia Cooper and a suffocating defense to a 65-51 victory over the New York Liberty.

Cooper, the fledgling league's leading scorer who was named Most Valuable Player earlier this week, scored 14 of her 25 points in the pivotal second half, when the Comets had a 10-0 burst and held the Liberty scoreless for nearly 6½ minutes. Tina Thompson added 18 points for the Comets, who turned Houston into "Clutch City" again. The city adopted that nickname during the two-year championship reign of the NBA's Houston Rockets.

Cooper also was named Finals MVP as the sellout crowd of 16,285 saw the Comets come up with their best defensive effort of the season.

Kym Hampton had 13 points and 13 rebounds and Vickie Johnson added 12 points for the Liberty, who picked a bad time for one of their worst offensive displays. A meaningless basket with three seconds remaining by Rebecca Lobo—who was limited to nine points—allowed New York to avoid its lowest point total of the season.

Houston, which edged New York for the Eastern Conference title and knocked off Charlotte in the semifinals, finished the regular season 18-10. The Liberty, who advanced with a semifinal win at Phoenix, were 17-11.

Awards

Rosters

1997 Houston Comets Finals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Height Weight From
F 4 Brazil Arcain, Janeth 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) 147 lb (67 kg) Brazil
G 14 United States Cooper, Cynthia 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 150 lb (68 kg) Southern California
F 9 United States Guyton, Wanda 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 178 lb (81 kg) South Florida
G 20 United States Harris, Fran 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 153 lb (69 kg) Texas
F 23 United States Jackson, Tammy 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 190 lb (86 kg) Florida
F 33 United States Moore, Yolanda 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 175 lb (79 kg) Mississippi
G 10 United States Perrot, Kim 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) 130 lb (59 kg) Southwestern Louisiana
F 22 United States Swoopes, Sheryl 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 145 lb (66 kg) Texas Tech
F 7 United States Thompson, Tina 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 178 lb (81 kg) Southern California
G 5 United States Woosley, Tiffany 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) 132 lb (60 kg) Tennessee
Head coach
Assistant coaches
  • United States Unknown

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured
1997 New York Liberty Finals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Height Weight From
G 10 United States Blades, Rhonda 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) 138 lb (63 kg) Vanderbilt
G 22 United States Crumpton-Moorer, Cassandra 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) 175 lb (79 kg) Alabama
G 5 United States Ford, Kisha 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 153 lb (69 kg) Georgia Tech
C 34 United States Hampton, Kym 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 210 lb (95 kg) Arizona State
G 55 United States Johnson, Vickie 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) 150 lb (68 kg) Louisiana Tech
C 50 United States Lobo, Rebecca 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 185 lb (84 kg) Connecticut
F 33 United States Trice, Trena 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 180 lb (82 kg) North Carolina State
G 11 United States Weatherspoon, Teresa 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) 161 lb (73 kg) Louisiana Tech
F 23 United States Wicks, Sue 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 174 lb (79 kg) Rutgers
G 13 United States Witherspoon, Sophia 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 145 lb (66 kg) Florida
Head coach
Assistant coaches
  • United States Unknown

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured
Sheryl Swoopes

Sheryl Denise Swoopes (born March 25, 1971) is a retired American professional basketball player. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA, is a three-time WNBA MVP, and was named one of the league's Top 15 Players of All Time at the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game. Swoopes has won three Olympic gold medals, and is one of ten women's basketball players to have won an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA Championship and a WNBA title. She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2017, she was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Wanda Guyton

Wanda Marie Guyton (born October 14, 1965 in Tampa, Florida) is a women's professional basketball coach and former professional women's basketball player. She is currently a women's professional basketball coach in Wasserburg, Germany.

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