1998 WNBA Championship

The 1998 WNBA Championship was the championship series of the 1998 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Houston Comets, top-seeded team of the league, defeated the Phoenix Mercury, third-seeded team of the league, two games to one in a best-of-three series. This was Houston's second straight title.

The Comets made their second appearance in the Finals in two years. The Mercury appeared in the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Going into the series, the Comets had won the only championship, being it only the second season of the league's existence.

The Comets' 27–3 record gave them home court advantage over Phoenix (19–11). The Comets lost game 1 in Phoenix, but won games 2 and 3 to take the series.

1998 WNBA Championship
1998 WNBA Finals logo
TeamCoachWins
Houston Comets Van Chancellor 2
Phoenix Mercury Cheryl Miller 1
DatesAugust 27-September 1
MVPCynthia Cooper (Houston Comets)
Eastern FinalsPhoenix defeated Cleveland 2-1
Western FinalsHouston defeated Charlotte 2-0

Road to the finals

Houston Comets Phoenix Mercury
27–3 (.900)
1st West, 1st overall
Regular season 19–11 (.633)
2nd West, 3rd overall
Defeated the (4) Charlotte Sting, 2–0 WNBA Semifinals Defeated the (2) Cleveland Rockers, 2–1

Regular season series

The Houston Comets won 2 of the 3 games in the regular season series:

June 24
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 1999)
Houston Comets 66, Phoenix Mercury 69
July 21
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 21, 1999)
Houston Comets 65, Phoenix Mercury 62
August 6
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 24, 1999)
Phoenix Mercury 64, Houston Comets 75

Game summaries

All times listed below are Eastern Daylight Time.

Game 1

August 27
7:00pm
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived April 18, 1999)
Houston Comets 51, Phoenix Mercury 54
Scoring by half: 29–33, 22–21
Pts: Cooper 29
Rebs: Swoopes 11
Asts: Perrot, Swoopes 6
O REB: Perrot 4 (5 tot REB)
Pts: Gillom 15
Rebs: Griffiths 12
Asts: Timms 5
Rebs: Gillom 10
America West Arena, Phoenix
Attendance: 13,634
Referees:
  • Corteau
  • Stokes
  • Kennedy

Jennifer Gillom's basket in the lane with 8.9 seconds left gave the Phoenix Mercury a 54-51 victory over the Houston Comets in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

Gillom, who helped set up her go-ahead shot by blocking a shot by Houston's Kim Perrot on the previous possession, finished with 15 points on just 5-of-20 shooting. She also grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Mercury, who finished eight games behind the Comets in the Western Conference, can win the title with a victory at Houston on Saturday. Phoenix handed Houston its fourth loss all season (another also from Phoenix in the regular season).

League MVP Cynthia Cooper was a one-woman show for the Comets, finishing with 29 points. The rest of the team—which includes first-team All-WNBA choices Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson—managed to hit just 10-of-41 shots.

Game 2

August 29
7:00 pm
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 2, 1999)
Phoenix Mercury 69, Houston Comets (OT) 74 (OT)
Scoring by half: 37–32, 29–34 Overtime: 3-8
Pts: Timms 21
Rebs: Gillom 9
Asts: Griffiths 3
Blocks: Gillom 3
Pts: Cooper 27
Rebs: Swoopes 13
Asts: Cooper 6
FG: Lamb 6-10
Compaq Center, Houston
Attendance: 16,285
Referees:
  • Bell
  • Price
  • Zielinski

Cynthia Cooper scored 19 of her 27 points after halftime as the defending champion Houston Comets forced a decisive third game in the WNBA Finals with a 74-69 overtime victory over the Phoenix Mercury. Sheryl Swoopes added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Comets, who host Game 3. Houston, which won 27 of 30 regular-season games, lost Game 1 at Phoenix and trailed 62-50 with 7:24 to play before staging a furious rally to save its season.

Michele Timms scored 21 points before fouling out in the final minute and reserve Kristi Harrower added a career-high 12 for Phoenix, which seemingly had taken control of the game with a 12-2 run midway through the second half. Jennifer Gillom, who averaged a team-high 20.8 points per game for the Mercury, scored just eight on 3-of-15 shooting.

Phoenix, which led almost the entire second half, held a 50-48 edge with 11:43 to go after Cooper sank a foul shot following a technical foul on Mercury coach Cheryl Miller, which seemed to light a spark under the Mercury.

Houston sensed the urgency and clawed back into the game. Yolanda Moore had a basket off an offensive rebound before Cooper added a free throw and eight-foot bank shot to make it 62-55 with 5:02 left.

Houston shot 43 percent (28-of-65) from the field and Thompson finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Cooper was 11-of-14 from the line. The Mercury shot just 38 percent (24-of-63) but did hit 7-of-15 three-point shots.

Game 3

September 1
7:00 pm
Recap at the Wayback Machine (archived February 2, 1999)
Phoenix Mercury 71, Houston Comets 80
Scoring by half: 26–32, 45–48
Pts: Griffiths 24
Rebs: Gillom 6
Asts: Timmms 7
FG: Griffiths 10-16
Pts: Cooper 23
Rebs: Thompson 6
Asts: Cooper, Swoopes 6
FG: Thompson 7-12
Compaq Center, Houston
Attendance: 16,285
Referees:
  • Corteau
  • Kennedy
  • Zielinski

The Houston Comets claimed their second straight WNBA championship, pulling away from the pesky Phoenix Mercury late in the second half and claiming an 80-71 victory in decisive Game 3.

After cruising through the regular season with a 27-3 record, the Comets were pushed to the limit by the Mercury after finishing eight games ahead of them in the Western Conference. In the end, however, Houston's trio of stars ensured the repeat.

League MVP Cynthia Cooper scored 23 points and Tina Thompson added 18. Sheryl Swoopes, nearly invisible for the first 30 minutes, had 11 points in the final 9:13 and finished with 16.

Michelle Griffiths scored a career-high 24 points and Jennifer Gillom had her best game of the series, netting 20. But Phoenix got nothing from Michele Timms, who finished with only two points—19 fewer than she had in Game 2.

The Comets have now won the only two WNBA championships.

Awards

Rosters

1998 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 23 United States Jackson, Tammy 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 190 lb (86 kg) Florida
C 40 United States Lamb, Monica 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 206 lb (93 kg) Southern California
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
C 00 United States Roberts, Nyree 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 209 lb (95 kg) Old Dominion
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
F 13 Spain Valdemoro, Amaya 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 160 lb (73 kg) Spain
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
1998 Phoenix Mercury Finals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Height Weight From
C 14 Germany Askamp, Marlies 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 198 lb (90 kg) Germany
F 0 United States Foster, Toni 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 175 lb (79 kg) Iowa
F 22 United States Gillom, Jennifer 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 180 lb (82 kg) Mississippi
F 12 Australia Griffiths, Michelle 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 177 lb (80 kg) Australia
G 4 Australia Harrower, Kristi 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m) 139 lb (63 kg) Australia
G 15 Slovakia Kuklova, Andrea 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 150 lb (68 kg) Slovakia
G 32 United States Pettis, Bridget 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) 150 lb (68 kg) Florida
F 13 United States Reed, Brandy 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 168 lb (76 kg) Southern Miss
C 8 Russia Stepanova, Maria 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 187 lb (85 kg) Russia
G 7 Australia Timms, Michele 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) 132 lb (60 kg) Australia
G 21 United States Webb, Umeki 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 162 lb (73 kg) North Carolina State
Head coach
Assistant coaches
  • United States Unknown

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured
Mickie DeMoss

Mickie Faye DeMoss (born October 3, 1955) is an American college basketball coach and former player. She became women's basketball assistant coach at Louisiana State University on May 17, 2016. She is the former women's head coach at the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky. She is also a former assistant coach at Louisiana Tech University, University of Tennessee, University of Texas, Auburn University, Memphis State University, and the WNBA's Indiana Fever. DeMoss was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 as a Contributor - Assistant Coach. She currently serves as Director of Offensive Analytics for Georgia Tech women's basketball.

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