Stars

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Stars 1718242382
Liberty 1421202176
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Silver Stars-Liberty Preview
By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Writer

The San Antonio Silver Stars are tied for first place in the Western Conference, but they've been far from dominant against their conference foes. Their play against the East, though, has been a much different story.

The Silver Stars, battling for home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs, will try to extend their record to 13-0 against the East on Tuesday when they face the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden.

San Antonio (21-10) is 9-10 against Western opponents, but hasn't lost in 12 interconference games. The Silver Stars' stellar play against the East has them tied for the West lead with Seattle with three games remaining, though San Antonio holds the edge for home-court advantage because it won the season series against the Storm.

The Silver Stars extended their dominance over the East on Sunday in a matchup of conference heavyweights. Becky Hammon had 24 points and five assists as San Antonio won 85-72 at East-leading Connecticut to pull even with Seattle in the West standings.

"They were giving me so much attention and I have no problem passing to my teammates," said Hammon, averaging 4.8 assists to rank fifth in the league. "If people want to pay me attention, we have a lot of people who can score."

One of those teammates was Sophia Young, who bounced back from a pair of subpar performances. She had averaged 8.5 points on 3-of-18 shooting over her previous two games, but Young contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Sun.

Young had 23 points and Hammon 27 when the Silver Stars beat the Liberty 83-79 on July 8, the teams' only other meeting this season.

This will be the second trip back to Madison Square Garden for Hammon, who played the first eight years of her career in a Liberty uniform. The first one was a success - Hammon had a game-high 19 points on June 22, 2007, as San Antonio beat New York 70-63.

The Silver Stars have won four straight against the Liberty (18-12), including their last two visits to midtown Manhattan.

San Antonio isn't the only team fighting for home-court advantage in the season's final week. New York is in third place in the East, just a half-game behind Detroit and 1 1/2 games back of Connecticut.

The Liberty have won three straight, all against non-playoff opponents, but their latest victory wasn't easy. They trailed Chicago 51-46 with 8 1/2 minutes left on Sunday, but went on a 15-0 run and came away with a 69-61 win.

"Every time you are in a tough game and go down in the fourth quarter and the game goes back and forth, you still need to find a way to win," coach Pat Coyle said.

New York has matched its longest winning streak of the season despite playing without leading scoring Shameka Christon (16.0 points per game), who's missed the previous three games with a left hamstring injury.

Christon's status for Tuesday's game is uncertain, as is Janel McCarville's. The Liberty's second-leading scorer (14.0 ppg) scored a team-high 16 against the Sky before falling awkwardly and leaving with less than four minutes to play.

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