Monarchs-Silver Stars Preview

The San Antonio Silver Stars hope their first playoff game in the state of Texas is not their last this season.

The second-seeded Stars will try to avoid elimination when they host the No. 3 seed Sacramento Monarchs on Saturday in Game 2 of their best-of-three Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Despite losing its final two regular-season games, Sacramento rolled to an 86-65 home victory over San Antonio in Game 1 on Thursday. The Monarchs can clinch the series with a victory Saturday.

"We've had some ups and downs, but the most important part is how we bounce back in the playoffs," said Sacramento forward Yolanda Griffith, whose team is seeking its third consecutive Western Conference title.

San Antonio, meanwhile, will look to bounce back as it hosts its first playoff game since the franchise - then known as the Utah Starzz - moved to Texas in 2003.

"Sacramento is a team that thrives on energy and forcing the other team into mistakes,'' Silver Stars leading scorer Becky Hammon said. "I am not sure what to expect at home. We need all of San Antonio to come out.''

Hammon and the Silver Stars hope they can expect a different outcome than they got Thursday.

Forward Nicole Powell scored 22 points, while fellow front-court mates Rebekkah Brunson added 17 and Kara Lawson had 16 for the Monarchs, who outscored the Silver Stars 48-31 in the second half and dominated them on the defensive end.

Sacramento forced 20 San Antonio turnovers and outrebounded the Silver Stars 41-22, while holding Hammon to 16 points, 6-for-16 field-goal shooting and two assists. She fell well below her 18.8 points and 5.0 assists per game season averages.

"We have another gear when it's time for the playoffs,'' Monarchs guard Ticha Penicheiro said. "We have a high intensity and energy always, but when it gets to be this time of year, we turn up the intensity.''

Sacramento will need to keep up that intensity Saturday at the AT&T Center, where it lost twice to San Antonio this season by a combined 21 points. The Monarchs were just 7-10 on the road during the 2007 regular season.

Sophia Young had 20 points to lead San Antonio on Thursday. The all-star forward averaged 17.0 points in the two home games against the Silver Stars this season.

A victory by the Silver Stars on Saturday would force a decisive Game 3 on Monday night in San Antonio.

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