Houston 75, Seattle 58
Swoopes Makes History;
Comets Close Out Storm
SEATTLE, Sept. 3 (Ticker) -- Sheryl Swoopes showed the Seattle Storm why she is one of the best players in the world.
Swoopes registered the first triple-double in WNBA playoff history and helped key a first-half burst as the Houston Comets pounded the defending champion Storm, 75-58, to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
"Under any condition it's hard to believe that our team came in here and won two games on the road," Houston coach Van Chancellor said. "I just thought we did an outstanding job defending them. Sheryl Swoops: 14 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. We had a great player who played great."
Tina Thompson, bothered by leg problems, scored 16 points for the Comets, who won four straight titles from 1997-2000. They open the conference finals at home Thursday against top-seeded Sacramento.
"I thought Tina Thompson played her best all year," Chancellor said. "So two great players played but it was a total team victory tonight. I would have never thought that we could limit them to less than 60 points. I'm just really pleased."
Swoopes helped end the Storm's nine-game winning streak at KeyArena with 20 points in Thursday's 67-64 victory.
"I don't know how many of those (triple-doubles) we get in the league, but that's special," Seattle coach Anne Donovan said. "She was below her (scoring) average tonight but she's filling up other columns. So Sheryl finds a way to help her team win a game and it doesn't necessarily have to do with scoring."
Houston broke open the game with a 22-9 run over a nine-minute span in the first half. Thompson scored eight points during the burst, including 3-pointers to start it and end it for a 39-22 lead with 4½ minutes left.
"I was tired, playing at about 70 percent," Thompson said. "There are times when my legs are feeling really good and at other times they don't." I know not to take 3-pointers or long jumpers when my legs aren't feeling that great."
Behind 6-of-6 shooting and 12 points by Janeth Arcain, 10 points by Thompson and eight points, nine rebounds and six assists by Swoopes, the Comets took a 43-26 lead at the break.
"It just felt like we didn't compete," Donovan said. "They steamrolled us early in the game and we never seemed to be able to recover. The effort was there. There was no question we were working hard trying to turn it around.
"We just got steamrolled on our home floor and that doesn't happen very often. It surprised me that we could never get a grip."
While Houston was scorching the nets, Seattle All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson scored a combined seven points on 3-of-11 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
After Seattle opened the second half with a 10-3 run, Swoopes and Thompson scored four points apiece during an 11-2 run to rebuild a 57-38 advantage.
"The second half, we came out and cut it to 10, and felt real good about the momentum," Donovan said. "The crowd was in it, with just two minutes off the clock and already we had done that damage."
The Storm never got closer than 16 points thereafter, and the Comets opened their biggest lead of 71-47 on two free throws by Dominique Canty, who scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
"It hurts. We had an opportunity (to repeat) and we didn't do that," Bird said. "They jumped on us early. I don't know what happened. They were hitting everything and it all worked for them."
Houston shot 54 percent (28-of-52) and outrebounded Seattle, 28-22.
Jackson was held to 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting and Bird had six on 2-of-8. Betty Lennox led Seattle with 12 points.