Monarchs-Silver Stars Preview

After winning Game 1 of their playoff series on the road, the top-seeded San Antonio Silver Stars may have figured they'd cruise past the Sacramento Monarchs and into the Western Conference finals.

Instead, their season will be on the line in a decisive Game 3 on Monday, when they'll look to rebound from a lopsided loss at home and eliminate the Monarchs in the first round for the second straight year.

The Silver Stars' 85-78 win at Sacramento on Thursday appeared to pave their path to the next round, as they needed just one win at home to advance. San Antonio, which had the best overall record in the WNBA in the regular season, went 15-2 at the AT&T Center.

On Saturday, though, the Monarchs outscored the Silver Stars in every quarter of an 84-67 victory. After San Antonio's Becky Hammon had scored 30 points in Game 1, the standout guard managed only 14 - still a team high - in Game 2.

Hammon said San Antonio approached the game with overconfidence after going two months without a home loss since falling 87-74 to Minnesota on July 19.

"I would like to say we didn't, but obviously we did," Hammon said. "I think (Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek) had more energy than our whole team. We just didn't have any energy and that's unacceptable. We have to fix ourselves before we start looking at anybody else."

After shooting 60 percent from the field in Game 1, the Silver Stars were stymied by Sacramento's defense on Saturday. They had only 14 team assists, 21 turnovers and shot 43 percent.

"We didn't make good decisions at the point of the ball," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "They are physical with you and create a lot of contact and you have to deal with it."

For the Monarchs, the win snapped a six-game losing streak at San Antonio, including the final two games of a first-round series last year after the Monarchs won the opener at home.

Game 3 of that series was a thriller. Sacramento erased an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game, but lost 80-78 on Vickie Johnson's layup in the closing seconds.

The Monarchs also lost 77-69 at San Antonio on Sept. 13, part of their 5-12 road record during the regular season. They played much better Saturday, shooting 59 percent from the field.

"I thought we played how we needed to play, free and easy and playing off our defense," Boucek said. "When we play aggressive and relentless, we are fully into our identity and how we need to play."

Starting in place of injured Rebekkah Brunson, rookie forward Crystal Kelly scored a career-high 19 points and shot 7-of-9 from the floor to lead the way for Sacramento.

"I have the same mind-set I've always had and I'm just trying to be consistent," Kelly said. "There wasn't any added pressure or anything like that. I think that's what helped us keep our composure in this game. Just play our game and we'd be just fine."

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