Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest: WNBA Champion to Be Crowned Thursday

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest: WNBA Champion to Be Crowned Thursday

Article excerpt

Lynx, Sparks play Thursday night for WNBA crown

Seimone Augustus was a 13-year-old girl when she watched the Houston Comets win the first WNBA championship, in 1997. The Comets would win the first four titles in the league, proving to basketball- loving girls across the country that there was a place for them to pursue their dreams.

Two decades later, Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx stand on the precipice of joining those trailblazing women. A victory at home over the Los Angeles Sparks in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the WNBA Finals on Thursday night would give the Lynx their fourth title, tying them with the Comets for most in league history. But if the Sparks win, they get the title.

"That's just mind-boggling to me," Augustus said. "We grew up watching the Houston Comets and those wonderful women the kind of set the precedent for what WNBA basketball is all about. They've motivated and inspired us. Now we could be the new Houston Comets of this era if we do what we need to do."

They know it will not be easy. Through the first four games of the series, the Sparks and Lynx have pushed each other as far as they can go, which is exactly what the league hoped would happen when it changed the playoff format to seed teams based on record, not geography. Los Angeles won Game 1 in Minnesota and Game 3 at home.

The Lynx have responded to each loss with a victory of their own to find themselves right back where they were a year ago needing a win in Game 5 to bring home a title.

The Sparks have not won a championship since 2002 and their unfamiliarity with the moment could give the Lynx an edge.

History, and logic, are on the Lynx's side. Four of their five starters played on the U.S. Olympic gold-medal team in Rio. The Lynx are playing at home. They have played in plenty of critical games, far more than the Sparks have.

But in a quiet moment after Game 3, when the Sparks were also one win away from the elusive championship, Los Angeles' Nneka Ogwumike offered some logic of her own.

"They want four (titles), and yeah, there is obviously a lot of experience in getting those first three," she said. "But we want one And let me tell you something. …

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