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Lauren Jackson named WNBA MVP

NEW YORK, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Forward Lauren Jackson, whose outstanding season was not enough to get the Seattle Storm into the playoffs, has been named WNBA MVP for 2003.

Jackson received 23 first-place votes and 406 points from a nationwide panel of writers and broadcasters, easily beating forward Tamika Catchings of Indiana, the 2002 Rookie of the Year who received 242 points.

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"I think this year, finally I got to step up and play," Jackson said. "It went to a different level."

Jackson, a native of Australia, led the WNBA in scoring at 21.2 points per game, and ranked in the top five in rebounds per game (9.3) and blocks per game (1.95).

Despite her breakout season, the Storm finished 18-16 and missed the playoffs.

Catchings finished third in last year's voting. Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie, who was MVP in 2001, finished third with 218 points.

Also getting votes were Katie Smith, Swin Cash, 2002 MVP Sheryl Swoopes.

Jackson also received $25,000 and a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer.

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