It's been said and written many times the last several years that winning has a knack of following Maya Moore around.
Of course, there's a reason. The former University of Connecticut star is a winner and makes winning plays, and she added to her resume Wednesdaynight.
Moore's 15-footer with 26.5 seconds stopped a Los Angeles rally cold and started a game-closing 6-0 run as the Minnesota Lynx topped the Sparks 85-76 in the deciding Game 5 of the WNBA Finals before 14,632 fans at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
"They cut it obviously to three there with a couple of our turnovers at the end, but we didn't panic," Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen said during the postgame press conference. "You know, and like Coach [Cheryl Reeve] said, at a certain point players make play and Maya made that runner at the free-throw line, which is why she's Maya Moore, which is also why we like her on our team."
Moore finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday night. In eight playoff games, the Lawrenceville, Georgia native averaged 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals.
It's the fourth WNBA championship for the Lynx overall and since they took Moore with the No. 1 pick of the 2011 Draft, and the second for reserve guard and former UConn All-American Renee Montgomery.
Still just 28, Moore has won four WNBA titles (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017), two NCAA championships at UConn (2009-10), three Georgia state championships at Collins Hill High (2005-07), two Olympic gold medals (2012, 2016) and two FIBA world championship gold medals (2010, 2014) with the United States national team. She is one of 10 players to have won WNBA and NCAA titles as well as Olympic and FIBA world championship gold. The Huskies were 150-4 in her four years while Collins Hills' record in her career there was 125-3. Team USA has been perfect in her Olympic and world championships career.
"Just happy to have such another special memory," Moore said. "Just when you think it can't get any better, we create a new memory in the house that [Whalen] built. I'm just over the top excited and happy of how we did it, and just the way we did it. No questions, it was just clear that we were the best team this year."
The Lynx never trailed, scoring the first seven points. A Seimone Augustus basket made it 79-67 with 2:32 left. But the Sparks made one last run and a steal and three-point play by Odyssey Sims made it 79-76 with 34.9 seconds to go.
Minnesota then had trouble inbounding the ball and Augustus saved a backcourt violation by getting the ball to teammate Sylvia Fowles, who then found Moore. Instead of holding the ball out, Moore attacked and her runner from the foul line found nothing but net for a five-point lead. Two free throws each by Fowles and Whalen in the last 20.9 second iced it.
"I think there were some moments in the third quarter where frustration was more defensively for me of just wanting to secure some of those rebounds and just make sure that we didn't give them offense off of our offense," Moore said. "We ultimately came back in the third, but I never quit. I never think that I'm out of it. I'm always trying to find the next way I can help my team, whether that's setting a screen or cutting hard and just always believing the next opportunity is one to take.
"Just happy it came at a good time for that shot and all the other ways I could help. That's just what I was trying to do."
Fowles, the league's Most Valuable Player, added the Finals MVP trophy as she finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds. Whalen, who called Williams Arena home during her days at the University of Minnesota, had 17 points and eight assists. Candace Parker had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Los Angeles, but did not score in the final 6:48.
The Lynx matched the Houston Comets' record of four WNBA titles.
"You know, as a longtime WNBA fan since I was eight years old, I've been die hard," Moore said. "Watching the Comets, some classic battles, New York, then Detroit had their run, watching the Storm, and then I get a chance to be a part of just an unbelievable group of players over these last few years. It's just hard to compare, obviously, because times change and talent gets better and we have more opportunities and things now to take advantage of. But I don't know if you're going to get a more deep, committed, selfless group that we have right now."
Montgomery had two points in seven minutes off the Lynx bench Wednesday night and in eight playoff games averaged 7.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. The St. Albans, West Virginia native was also part of Minnesota's 2015 title team and a 2009 national champion at UConn.
For Reeve -- an assistant coach to UConn's Geno Auriemma with Team USA for the 2014 FIBA world championship team and the 2016 Olympic team, it was her fourth WNBA title as a head coach to go with the two she won as an assistant to Bill Laimbeer with the Detroit Shock.
"Maya made a hard shot," Reeve said. "That shot that she made there at the end, that's not something that comes easy, you know, kind of a runner/floater from like 15 feet. But I heard Lindsay say, that's Maya Moore. That's what she does. She makes plays."
REACHING THE CEILING
UConn announced on Twitter Wednesday that the repairs to the roof at Gampel Pavilion that began in May are complete.
"60,000 screws, 30,000+ hours, and 2,083 ceiling tiles later... the new Gampel roof is ready for the 2017-18 season," the tweet said.
The repairs did cause the Huskies to cancel their annual First Night program, which celebrates the start of official practice for the men's and women's teams.
The UConn women will play an exhibition game at Gampel Pavilion on Nov. 5 against reigning Division II champion Ashland (Ohio). The regular season home opener will be Nov. 17 at Gampel Pavilion versus California-Berkeley.