SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 22 (AP) - Crystal Kelly has definitely found a home with the Sacramento Monarchs.
Kelly has been a key contributor in reserve all season for the Monarchs, and that was true again Sunday night when she scored 13 points. Adrian Williams-Strong added 11 to help Sacramento beat the Chicago Sky 82-70.
A rookie from Western Kentucky, Kelly was released by the Houston Comets and signed by the Monarchs just before the season. She quickly earned playing time for a team that has always provided plenty of minutes for its bench players.
"It was a whirlwind, one day I'm cut and feeling like I failed and then I get picked up by a veteran team like the Monarchs,'' said Kelly, who is averaging 6.4 points and nearly three rebounds a game. "It's nice to know I can come in and contribute. This has been a great fit for me.''
A bruising inside player, Kelly made 2 of 5 shots and 9 of 10 free throws against the Sky. She also had seven rebounds and added two assists and a steal in just 17 minutes for the Monarchs, whose bench outscored Chicago 36-18.
"That's what this team has always been built on, defense and depth,'' Kara Lawson said. "When we're playing defense at a high level, we're coming at teams in waves and wearing them down.''
Both Lawson and Ticha Penicheiro scored 10 points for the Monarchs (6-6). Sacramento earned its 200th win in franchise history and snapped a two-game losing streak.
"This is a repeating theme for us, getting behind, having to come back, but then running out of energy and not having enough to win the game,'' Chicago coach Steve Key said. "We allowed them too many easy touches in the post and I think overall we didn't match their energy.''
The victory helped the Monarchs avoid a fourth straight loss at home. They hadn't had such a skid since mid-July 1998 during their second WNBA season. That was the only season Sacramento posted a losing record at home. This year, the Monarchs are 3-3 at Arco Arena.
"I knew we had lost the first two games of this homestand, and that's one thing we've always talked about, not losing two in a row, much less three,'' Lawson said. "This was a huge win for us because now we're going out on the road.''
Lawson's 3-pointer gave the Monarchs their biggest advantage of the game, stretching the lead to 65-50 with 6:15 left. The Sky eventually cut it to 71-67 on Perkins' 3-pointer with 1:58 remaining, yet could get no closer.
Chicago has struggled without Sylvia Fowles, the second overall pick in this year's draft who has been out six games with a sprained left knee.
Fowles averaged nearly 11 points and eight rebounds in the season's first five games. She is expected to return within the next three weeks.
"It's something we don't dwell on. We've been in so many games since she (Fowles) has been out, but we just haven't won many,'' Key said. "She could help us immensely, but we are playing well enough to win some of these games.''