Devereaux Peters (’11), who helped the Notre Dame women’s basketball team to a pair of NCAA national championship games while earning honorable mention All-America status in 2011 and 2012, added a WNBA championship to her resume Thursday night when she helped the Minnesota Lynx complete a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Dream with an 86-77 victory at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.
Peters, who had four rebounds in the series-clinching win, earns the fifth WNBA championship ring for a Notre Dame alum, and the first since Ruth Riley (’01) and Jacqueline Batteast (’05) paced the Detroit Shock to the 2006 WNBA title. Coincidentally, Riley was in the building Thursday night as a member of the Atlanta Dream, the third different franchise she helped to reach the WNBA Finals in her 13-year professional career.
“We are so proud of Devereaux and Ruth for representing Notre Dame with class and distinction throughout the WNBA playoffs,” Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “They are tremendous ambassadors for not only our University, but the sport of women’s basketball, and we couldn’t be happier for Dev to win her first WNBA title, the first of what we expect will be many championships for her in the years to come.”
This marked the fourth consecutive season that Peters was playing for a championship, having followed her consecutive NCAA national title game berths at Notre Dame with appearances in the WNBA Finals in each of her first two pro seasons (2012 and 2013). Last year. Minnesota fell to the Indiana Fever in four games before bouncing back to win this year’s championship, the second in three years for the Twin Cities franchise.
Peters appeared in all 34 games for the Lynx this season (starting twice), averaging 4.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. The Fighting Irish alum also played in all seven WNBA playoff games for Minnesota, logging 3.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per contest as the Lynx became just the second WNBA team to go 7-0 in the postseason (along with the 2010 Seattle Storm).
“Devereaux’s greatest value, and the reason why we drafted her, is because she’s a possession player,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve last month in an interview with SLAM Magazine. “She gets her hands on a lot of balls, gets a lot of deflections and offensive rebounds. For a second-year player, she does some veteran-like things.
“She’s unselfish, and we value that with our group because we have three Olympians and four All-Stars,” Reeve added. “We needed somebody that didn’t mind playing their role, that wasn’t going to have the ball in their hands all the time or have plays run for them, and she’s been playing that role very well for us.”
“Dev gives us everything she has every time she comes on the court,” Minnesota’s ninth-year All-Star forward Rebekkah Brunson told SLAM Magazine. “If we need to get rebounds, we know we can look to her and she’ll go out there and get it done. She’s doing everything she needs to do to get better. We have a lot of respect for her. I think she’s going to be a great post player in this league.”
In addition to 2006, Riley won her first WNBA crown in 2003, also with Detroit, and was named the Finals Most Valuable Player after scoring a career-high 27 points against the Los Angeles Sparks in the decisive third game (when the championship series was a best-of-three format). She returned to the WNBA Finals in 2008 with the San Antonio Silver Stars, which lost to her former team, Detroit, in three games.
Riley joined the Atlanta roster in June, signing a free-agent contract after the Chicago Sky released her at the end of the preseason following an injury. Riley played in 16 games for Atlanta, averaging 1.1 points and 0.8 rebounds a night. She also saw time in four WNBA playoff games for the Dream, registering 2.0 points and 0.5 rebounds per outing.
Coquese Washington (’91) was the other Notre Dame alum to hoist the WNBA hardware, winning the 2000 league title as a member of the now-defunct Houston Comets.
The latest edition of the Fighting Irish will open its 2013-14 season with an exhibition game at 7 p.m. (ET) Oct. 30, playing host to California (Pa.) at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame’s regular season slate gets underway at 1 p.m. (ET) Nov. 9, when the Fighting Irish welcome UNC Wilmington to Purcell Pavilion.