Houston Sheryl Swoopes received her WNBA defensive player of the year trophy Sunday. Then she went out and showed why she deserved it.
Swoopes had 28 points and six steals, and Tina Thompson hit a clinching three-pointer in the second overtime as the Houston Comets tied their first-round playoff series against Utah 1-1 Sunday with an 83-77 victory.
"Coming back here after losing at Utah, we were down one game but we never felt we were out of it," Swoopes said. "We've been in this position before and we know what it takes to come back."
The deciding third game is set for Tuesday in Houston. The winner will play the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks for the Western Conference title.
Marie Ferdinand led the Starzz with 22 points and Adrienne Goodson had 20. Natalie Williams added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
"We're very frustrated," Williams said. "We feel like we don't get any respect. We've just got to come back here Tuesday and do the best we can. I'm sure this game was fun to watch."
Thompson had 18 points and 14 rebounds for Houston.
The teams were tied at 65 at the end of regulation play and 73-73 when the first overtime ended.
Janeth Arcain, who scored 17 points, got the tip to open the second overtime and hit an 18-foot jumper that put the four-time WNBA champion Comets ahead for good. With Houston leading 79-73, Thompson sank a 25-foot jumper to complete a 9-0 start to the overtime.
"I thought we were on the deathbed, I don't know how many times," Comets coach Van Chancellor said. "This team has a lot of resiliency."
Swoopes, whose six steals were a career playoff high, got cramps in both of her calves with 10:23 left in regulation. She had to leave the court but returned to push the Comets into overtime.
"I was lots concerned," Chancellor said. "I kept walking to the end of the bench and I couldn't find her. But let's give Utah credit. They put a giant in the middle and she was blocking shots."
Liberty 84, Fever 65
New York Forward Tamika Whitmore scored a playoff career-high 24 points, leading New York past Indiana to stay alive in the best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinals. Whitmore shot 10-for-12 from the field to help avenge a 73-55 Game 1 loss at Indiana on Friday, the Liberty's worst playoff loss ever.
New York shot 59 percent from the field, including 5-for-10 from three-point range. Tari Phillips added 20 points, Becky Hammon scored 13 and Vickie Johnson had 10 points for the Liberty.