HOUSTON, Sept. 2 (Ticker) -- Ticha Penicheiro's only basket of the game came at the best time.

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Penicheiro nailed a driving runner with 2.8 seconds left to lift the Sacramento Monarchs to a 70-68 victory over the Houston Comets in Game Three of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Sacramento posted the second playoff series triumph in franchise history and advanced to meet the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Sparks in the conference finals. The Monarchs host Game One on Friday.

Penicheiro took an inbounds pass from rookie Kara Lawson with eight seconds left and went to work on Houston's Ukari Figgs. Penicheiro drove past Figgs and banked home a layup to snap a 68-68 tie.

Houston had a final chance, but Sheryl Swoopes failed to get a shot off before time expired. The Comets, who won the first four championships, have lost three straight playoff series since their last title in 2000.

Yolanda Griffith collected 27 points and 17 rebounds to lead Sacramento. DeMya Walker scored 15 points and Edna Campbell added 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Tina Thompson scored 21 points and Michelle Snow collected 16 and 15 rebounds for Houston, which trailed by as many as 14 points. Swoopes, who suffered a right ankle injury late in the game and returned, netted 15 points.