SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 29 (Ticker) -- Once Sheryl Swoopes cooled off, the Sacramento Monarchs pulled away.

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Tangela Smith collected 17 points and 10 rebounds and YolandaGriffith also scored 17 points to lead the Monarchs to a 65-59 victory over the Houston Comets in the first game of their best-of-three Western Conference semifinal series.

Swoopes scored her team's first 15 points as the Comets stayed close. But Sacramento ended the opening half with a 14-6 kick, building a 32-21 lead at intermission.

A basket by rookie Chantelle Anderson capped a 6-0 spurt and extended the advantage to 48-33 with just over nine minutes remaining. Houston fought back and got within 60-59 with 23 seconds to play on a jumper by Janeth Arcain.

But the Monarchs were 5-of-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch as Smith and Griffith made two apiece.

Swoopes finished with 27 points and Arcain added 13 for the Comets, who closed the season with losses in five of their last six games. Houston hosts Game Two on Sunday.

Kara Lawson chipped in 12 points for Sacramento.