Silver Stars-Liberty Preview

With a late surge against her former team, Becky Hammon carried the San Antonio Silver Stars to their first win of the young season.

For the Silver Stars to continue their recent dominance of the New York Liberty, however, they'll have to do it without their emotional leader and top playmaker.

With Hammon missing the next two games because of international commitments, the Silver Stars hope to muster enough offense to complete a home-and-home sweep of the winless Liberty on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Hammon scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter as San Antonio (1-1) overcame an early seven-point deficit to beat New York 63-60 at home Saturday night. The four-time All-Star point guard connected on two 3-pointers during a late 11-0 run that gave the Silver Stars the lead for good.

San Antonio, however, won't be able to count on Hammon on Friday. The 2007 MVP runner-up will miss the team's next two games to play for Russia in the European women's basketball championships. She expects to rejoin the Silver Stars in time for their June 23 game against Phoenix.

The American-born Hammon earned a bronze medal playing for Russia in the Olympics last summer. She became a naturalized Russian citizen after essentially being passed over for a spot on the U.S. team.

Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said the team had known Hammon's leave was a possibility.

"When you're a family, you work through things together," Hughes said. "That's all we're doing."

Hammon has been a key to San Antonio's success against New York lately. The Silver Stars have won six straight against the Liberty (0-3), including all five of the teams' meetings since San Antonio traded for Hammon before the 2007 season, ending her eight-year tenure with New York.

With Hammon unavailable, the Silver Stars will likely rely more heavily on Sophia Young. The two-time All-Star forward scored 15 points in the home-and-home opener after finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds in a season-opening loss at Phoenix.

Young averaged 19.0 points in two wins over the Liberty last season, but shot just 38.2 percent from the field.

The Liberty are hoping to contain Young and avoid their first 0-4 start since 2006. New York led 17-10 after the first quarter Saturday before getting outscored 53-43 the rest of the way.

"We need to execute for 40 minutes," said forward Shameka Christon, who came off the bench and led the Liberty with 21 points. "Lately it's been 35, 37 minutes. Teams like San Antonio, Phoenix, if you make a lot of mistakes down the stretch they will make you pay."

Christon averaged 21.0 points against the Silver Stars last season.

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