Sacramento 72, Los Angeles 58 (F)
Monarchs Sweep Sparks, Return To WNBA Finals
ANAHEIM, Calif., August 26 (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Sparks dominated the series during the regular season, but Yolanda Griffith and the Sacramento Monarchs were in control when it mattered most: the playoffs.
Griffith scored 15 points and Kara Lawson added 13 and 10 rebounds as the Monarchs took control in the second quarter en route to a two-game sweep in the best-of-three series with a 72-58 victory over the Sparks in the Western Conference finals.
Top-seeded Los Angeles owned a 3-0 mark against Sacramento during the regular season, but the Monarchs shook that off with a 64-61 victory in the opener Thursday. They virtually ended this one early, which marks their second straight postseason sweep over the Sparks and third straight series' win overall against them.
"Sacramento is a great team," Sparks coach Joe Bryant. "They defended their title well. They played a very aggressive defense that takes you out of your game."
Ahead, 23-13, to start the second period, Sacramento went on a decisive 15-3 run for a 38-16 cushion with 4:46 left before intermission. Scholanda Dorrell scored the final seven points - a 3-pointer, a pair of free throws and a layup - of the surge, which were all of her points in the contest.
The Monarchs extended their lead to 45-21 at halftime. They maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the second half and never looked back.
"We tried to attack them inside," Whisenant said. "Once you break through their outer shell, it makes it easier. We needed that lead. I warned them that they had come back against Seattle. I told them at half not to give them a 20-point quarter and that's exactly what we did."
Tamara Moore scored 16 points and Mwadi Mabika added 15 for Los Angeles, which shot just 38 percent (21-of-56). Lisa Leslie had another tough outing, contributing just 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
"I never want to use playing here as an excuse for not being at home," said Bryant about the team playing its first game of the year at Arrowhead Pond. "When you're a player, you don't think about it. But as a player, you have to have your comfort zone and I don't want to blame this on it, but it helps when you're in your comfort zone."
The Monarchs will play the winner of the Detroit-Connecticut series in the Finals on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.