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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2001

WNBA Playoffs: New York sinks Sol in opener

August 18, 2001

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— Vickie Johnson had 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, and Tari Phillips added 16 points and 13 rebounds as the New York Liberty beat the Miami Sol, 62-46, Friday night in the opening game of their first-round WNBA Eastern Conference playoff series.

Tamika Whitmore scored 12 points as the Liberty's shooting proved the difference. New York shot 27 of 52 (51.9 percent) from the field, while Miami struggled shooting 18 of 52 (34.6 percent).

New York, the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion, outrebounded Miami 33-23.

Miami was led by Ruth Riley with 12 points, but 11 came in the first half. Elena Baranova and Sandy Brondello added 10 points each for the Sol.

Game 2 in the best-of-three Eastern Conference playoff series is Sunday at noon at Madison Square Garden, where the Liberty won 13 of 16 games this year. Game three, if necessary, is Tuesday night in New York.

The Liberty led 32-29 at the half. Miami, which shot 44.4 percent in the first half, missed four of its first six shots of the second half. An 8-0 run by the Liberty pushed the lead to 47-35 with 11:26 left in the game.

While Miami struggled with its shooting, New York began to pull away. A three-pointer by Robinson gave the Liberty a 50-37 lead.

The Sol never got closer than nine points over the final 10 minutes, while New York's lead grew to as many as 18.

Riley, a rookie who won the Naismith Award and was The Associated Press Player of the Year her senior season at Notre Dame, connected on four of her six shots from the field in the first half, helping Miami to a 20-14 lead.

But the Liberty came back to lead 30-24 on a hook shot by Whitmore, who had earlier given New York a scare when she twisted her left knee and had to leave the floor.

The Sol, which went 13-19 in its inaugural season, is the first expansion team to qualify for the playoffs.

Monarchs 89, Starzz 65

Salt Lake City Yolanda Griffith didn't try to go over Margo Dydek, Utah's 7-foot-2 center. She went around her.

Griffith scored 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting and had 12 rebounds, outdueling Dydek as Sacramento beat Utah in the opening game of the Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Tangela Smith and Kedra Holland-Corn each scored 17 for Sacramento while Ruthie Bolton-Holifield added 12.

Griffith had 14 points in the first half as the Monarchs built a 47-30 lead, then put the game away early in the second by scoring seven straight points over a span of 1:17 to extend Sacramento's lead to 67-45.

The run started after Griffith drove on Dydek and went hard to the floor. Griffith brushed herself off, made one of the ensuing two free throws and then scored on the next three possessions.

Game 2 is Sunday in Sacramento, where the Monarchs edged the Starzz 69-67 during the regular season.

The Monarchs started quick, building a 26-9 lead 11:49 before halftime. Holland-Corn scored seven points during a 17-3 burst over a span of 4:21 and Utah, slow-footed on both ends, never recovered.

Dydek was double-teamed nearly each time she posted up. The 6-3 Griffith and 6-4 Smith used their quickness to offset Dydek's size, and when they weren't scoring inside, Holland-Corn was hitting on the perimeter.

Natalie Williams led Utah with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Marie Ferdinand scored 14 while Dydek and Adrienne Goodson each had 13.

The Starzz were the last of the eight original WNBA franchises to reach the playoffs.

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