We have yet to see a buzzer-beating shot in the 2021 WNBA playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury came close against the New York Liberty in the first round when forward Brianna Turner attempted a go-ahead layup with 1.4 seconds left in regulation but missed. However, Turner drew the foul and made one of two free throws for an 83-82 win.
Late winning shots provide some of the most memorable moments in sports, and the best ones usually happen when postseason pressure is at its highest. So before the semifinal round begins, let’s take a look at the top-five game-winners in WNBA playoff history.
5. Alana Beard, Los Angeles Sparks (2016 Finals)
It was a back-and-forth Game 1 between the Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx as the lead changed hands 10 times and there were 19 ties. Despite a rough shooting night, Beard managed to make what first looked like a last-second 3-pointer but was ruled a 2-point shot. It didn’t matter because the Sparks only needed two points to win the opener.
Beard shot just 40 percent from the field and scored only four points in Game 1, but she gave L.A. the 1-0 lead in the series, which the Sparks ultimately won 3-2 to become 2016 WNBA champions.
4. Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx (2015 Finals)
The six-time WNBA All-Star knows a thing or two about game-winners because, a year before Beard’s Game 1 buzzer-beater, she had a significant last-second shot herself in Game 3 of the 2015 Finals against the Indiana Fever.
With 1.7 seconds left and the score tied at 77-77, Minnesota drew up a play to get Moore a shot. Lindsay Whalen inbounded the ball to Moore, who, after a quick shot fake, took one dribble to create space and rose to get a clean look at the basket. The ball left Moore’s hand with 0.1 on the clock and dropped through the net to give the Lynx a 2-1 lead in a series they would win in five games to become 2015 WNBA champions.
3. Dearica Hamby, Las Vegas Aces (2019 second round)
In 2019, Hamby was named Sixth Player of the Year for her consistent boost of energy off the bench while averaging 11 points per game. In the second round of the 2019 playoffs, she put a stamp on that super-sub label with a series of plays that led Las Vegas to the semifinals.
Trailing 92-90 with about 13 seconds to play against the Chicago Sky, the Aces needed a miracle to pull off the win. The Sky inbounded the ball in the back court, but while attempting to cross half court, Courtney Vandersloot’s pass was intercepted by Hamby just shy of the sideline.
Not aware of how much time was on the clock, Hamby quickly got the ball out of her hands and hit a 38-foot shot off one foot with five seconds left. Up 93-92, the Aces completed the improbable victory by preventing a last-second winner by Chicago.
2. Nikki Teasley, Los Angeles Sparks (2002 Finals)
In Game 2 against New York, Teasley sank the 3-pointer that allowed the Sparks to sweep the best-of-3 series and become 2002 WNBA champions.
Out of a timeout, L.A. had 13 seconds to get a good look at the basket. However, no one would have expected Teasley, a rookie point guard, to take the shot, not even Teasley herself. With teammates Mwadi Mabika and Lisa Leslie heavily defended, Teasley had no one to pass the ball as time ticked off the clock. Her defender, Teresa Weatherspoon, dropped off to protect the paint, so Teasley lined up the shot that clinched the Sparks' second-straight WNBA title.
1. Teresa Weatherspoon, New York Liberty (1999 Finals)
Whenever there’s a buzzer-beater in the WNBA, Weatherspoon's game-winning 3-pointer against the Houston Comets in Game 2 of the 1999 Finals usually enters the conversation. It's still one of the most memorable shots in league history due to the series of events that led up to it.
New York trailed by as much as 18 points in the first half but fought back to tie the game at 65-65 with 16.3 seconds remaining. Houston took a two-point lead with 2.4 seconds left on a jumper by Tina Charles, the No. 1 overall pick of the 1997 WNBA Draft.
The Liberty had no timeouts, prompting them to take the ball out quickly without letting too much time run off the clock. On the run, Weatherspoon caught the inbounds pass, took two dribbles and launched a Hail Mary shot behind half court to beat the buzzer.
The shot was like a scene out of a movie. Weatherspoon fell to the floor in disbelief and was mobbed by her teammates as confetti fell for what was supposed to be Houston's celebration. The Comets got their chance to celebrate when they won Game 3 to claim their third straight WNBA title.