Sting, Sparks reach WNBA finals

Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2001

NEW YORK -- Allison Feaster made two late 3-pointers and Charlotte advanced to the WNBA Finals with a 48-44 victory over New York on Monday night.

In the lowest scoring playoff game in league history, the Sting won despite shooting 19 percent in the first half and going scoreless the first seven minutes of the game.

Feaster made a 3-pointer with 2:54 left to give the Sting the lead for good, then made another 49 seconds later for a 46-42 lead with 2:05 left.

The Liberty had the ball with 33 seconds left and a chance to tie or go ahead. New York controlled a jump ball with 10.3 seconds left. Vickie Johnson missed a 14-footer, and Tamika Whitmore missed a putback.

Stinson made two free throws with 1.4 seconds left.

Stinson finished with just five points, while Feaster had 14. Johnson led New York with 13.

Sparks 93, Monarchs 62

LOS ANGELES -- Lisa Leslie had a career-high 35 points, 16 rebounds and blocked seven shots to lead the Los Angeles Sparks into the WNBA finals for the first time with a 93-62 victory over the Sacramento Monarchs on Monday night.

The Sparks won the Western Conference title 2-1 and will play the Charlotte Hornets in the best-of-three championship finals that begin Thursday in Charlotte. The Hornets upset the New York Liberty 48-44 to win the Eastern Conference title earlier Monday.

Leslie, selected as the WNBA's MVP on Sunday, proved it with a dominating performance from the opening tip. She had 22 points and a playoff league-record 14 rebounds in the first half as the Sparks took a 42-27 lead. The old record for rebounds in a half was 10 by New York's Tari Phillips on Aug. 24, 2000.

The Monarchs never led, a day after routing the Sparks by 20 points to even the series 1-1. Yolanda Griffith picked up her third foul with 7:34 left in the first half, forcing Tangela Smith to guard Leslie in what proved to be a mismatch.

Griffith finished with six points and sat out the final five minutes after scoring 24 points in Sunday's win that snapped the Sparks' 17-game home winning streak.

Ticha Penicheiro, whose 19 points made the difference in Game 2, was held scoreless in 24 minutes. Kedra Holland-Corn had 12 points and Ruthie Bolton-Holifield added 11 off the bench.

Standing at the foul line late in the game, Leslie was showered with chants of ''MVP! MVP!'' by 7,174 fans, including Lakers teammates Shaquille O'Neal and Derek Fisher, who wore her jersey. She left the game with 4:16 remaining and the Sparks ahead 79-53.

The Monarchs never challenged in the second half, which turned into a party, with the crowd on its feet cheering, slapping teal bangers and dancing to music from a live band.

Tamecka Dixon added 19 points, DeLisha Milton had 15 and Ukari Figgs had 10 assists for the Sparks, who held advantages in rebounding (13-4) and blocked shots (44-25).

The Sparks had the league's best record at 28-4 and were undefeated in 16 home games during the regular season.

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