SACRAMENTO, Calif., August 24 (Ticker) -- Yolanda Griffith's flash to the basket proved to be key.

Griffith scored 18 points and Nicole Powell added 17 as the Sacramento Monarchs posted an exciting 64-61 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

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Kara Lawson collected 13 points and five assists for the Monarchs, who lead the best-of-three series, 1-0. Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim.

With the score knotted at 61-61, Lawson threw a bounce pass from the corner to a cutting Griffith, who converted the go-ahead layup with 10 seconds remaining. The Sparks elected not to call timeout and Temeka Johnson came up empty on a desperation layup attempt on the other end.

Los Angeles fouled immediately and fouled again with three seconds to go, placing Lawson at the line. She split the pair of free throws for a 64-61 edge.

After a timeout, Lisa Willis managed to handle a difficult inbounds pass, but her deep 3-pointer found only the backboard to seal the win for Sacramento.

Mwadi Mabika scored 23 points, including 6-of-9 shots from the arc and Johnson added 14 for the Sparks, who also dropped the first game of the three-game series in the previous round against the Seattle Storm.

The final moments of the contest featured big shot after big shot. First, Ticha Penicheiro drained a 3-pointer, pulling Los Angeles even at 58-58 with 1:16 left.

After Lisa Leslie, who had just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting, missed a jumper on the ensuing possession, Lawson sank a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner for a three-point advantage.

Following a timeout, Mabika drilled a tough pull-up 3-pointer from straight away to tie the game at 61-61 with 34 seconds remaining.