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20080928/LASSAN
Sparks-Silver Stars Preview
By DAN PIERINGER, STATS Writer

With the San Antonio Silver Stars on the brink of elimination, Sophia Young made a buzzer-beating game-winner to save their season.

She may have also shifted the momentum in the Western Conference finals.

After rallying for a thrilling victory in Game 2, Young and the top-seeded Silver Stars look to advance to the WNBA finals for the first time in franchise history as they host the No. 3 seed Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday.

San Antonio lost Game 1 of the series 85-70 on Thursday night in Los Angeles, and faced elimination trailing by four points with less than one minute remaining on Saturday.

But Young came up big down the stretch, connecting on two free throws to give the Silver Stars a one-point lead with 11 seconds left, then answering a Sparks layup with a game-winning 14-foot turnaround jumper at the buzzer.

"She's just a player you can get a lot from in those situations," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "It's not about the play, it's about the player."

Young, the Silver Stars' second-leading scorer and rebounder in the regular season with 17.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, finished with 21 and 11 as the Silver Stars kept their dreams of their first WNBA championship alive.

The third-year forward from Baylor is averaging 18.8 points and 7.0 boards in the playoffs.

"If you've got players who are playmakers, as a coach it's your job to get them the ball," Hughes said. "I have a few of those. That's why we're still playing."

Young's clutch shot overshadowed an otherwise strong fourth quarter for the Sparks, who had outscored the Silver Stars 20-10 before the buzzer-beater to overcome a nine-point deficit at the beginning of the period.

"I thought it was a very, very, very well played basketball game by both teams," Sparks coach Michael Cooper said. "San Antonio showed you why they are the top in the Western Conference with the record they have; then we showed why we are an up and coming team.

"The Western Conference is at stake, so both teams will go at it again."

Cooper has to like his chances with rookie Candace Parker and veteran Lisa Leslie in his frontcourt. Parker had 19 points and 17 rebounds on Saturday, and Leslie added 17 and 12. Parker has a double-double in each of the first two games of this series, and Leslie has three so far this postseason.

Los Angeles will likely need more success from that duo to advance to the finals for the first time since 2003, when its bid for a third straight championship ended with a Game 3 loss to Detroit. The Sparks have lost four straight at AT&T Center since an 81-67 victory July 26, 2006.

Meanwhile, the Silver Stars are 17-3 at home this season, including 2-1 in the playoffs.

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