© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 20, 2001
Miami rallies 53-50to extend series
NEW YORK -- In a playoff series dubbed the "Black and Blue Classic," the Miami Sol proved it is not intimidated by the Liberty at Madison Square Garden.
Sheri Sam scored 15 of her 17 in the second half as the Sol rallied to beat the Liberty 53-50 Sunday, forcing a decisive third game in the first-round Eastern Conference playoffs.
New York, the two-time defending conference champion, shot 32 percent from the field and blew a 10-point second-half lead.
The series pits the league's best defensive teams and intense rivals. The Liberty finished 13-3 at the Garden in the regular season, but one of those defeats was by 16 to Miami on July 22.
That game featured seven technicals and a near brawl between the Sol's Debbie Black and the Liberty's Teresa Weatherspoon.
The Sol, which owns the East's best road record at 10-6, found success again Sunday in front of 14,004 partisan fans.
"The players talk trash, the fans talk trash," said Sam, who scored 13 of Miami's final 15. "This team has a lot of heart."
Miami took a 50-48 lead, its first since early in the game, on Sam's 3-pointer with 1:59 remaining. Tamika Whitmore's jumper tied it at 50, but Sam hit a jumper for a 52-50 lead with 1:25 left. With 28.5 second left, Whitmore missed a jumper, and the Liberty was forced to foul. Sam made one of the two free throws with 7.7 second left for the final margin.
"This team is very upset to allow this game to slip away," Weatherspoon said. "We have to finish things off."
SACRAMENTO 71, UTAH 66: Yolanda Griffith had 30 points and 14 rebounds as the host Monarchs swept the Starzz out of the playoffs.
Despite shooting 26.8 percent, the Monarchs overcame an 11-point second-half deficit in a game featuring a league-record 73 free-throw attempts. The Monarchs shot a playoff-record 47 free throws. Griffith tied the playoff record with 24 free-throw attempts, and her 30 points were a career playoff high.
Sacramento advanced to the second round for the first time.
Adrienne Goodson had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Starzz, but Utah's chances evaporated when Natalie Williams fouled out with 6:59 remaining and the Starzz clinging to a 55-53 lead.
With Williams gone, Griffith scored seven in the next five minutes as the Monarchs pulled away. Griffith played nearly the entire second half with four fouls, but didn't foul out.
Sue Wicks of the Liberty is the winner of the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. The award honors the late point guard who helped Houston win the first two league championships. Jennifer Azzi of the Starzz finished second.