Lisa Leslie had 30 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to a 75-59 victory over Cleveland last night in the Rockers' home opener before a crowd of 15,731, the second-largest in team history.
Leslie matched her career high in points, a mark she achieved three times last season. Her inside game overpowered the Rockers, who are without last season's leading scorer, Isabelle Fijalkowski. The center told the Rockers she is sitting out the 1999 WNBA season.
"We kept going to Lisa until they proved they could stop her," guard Tamecka Dixon said. "They never did."
Los Angeles took command with a 22-2 run to start the second half, turning a 37-35 halftime deficit into a 57-39 lead. Leslie had nine points in the run, including a three-pointer that put the Sparks ahead to stay at 42-39.
LIBERTY 68, STING 57: Sophia Witherspoon scored 17 points and New York used a strong defensive showing to win in Charlotte. Rookie Tamika Whitmore added 12 points and eight rebounds for New York, which harassed the Sting into 18 turnovers and converted them into 19 points.
Charlotte rookie Stephanie McCarty scored all 10 of her points in the second half, helping the Sting cut a 16-point deficit to 59-55 with 1 minute 23 seconds left. New York sealed the victory at the free throw line, making 9 of 12 over the last 1:15.
Vickie Johnson added 15 points for the Liberty, who had nine steals and outrebounded Charlotte 36-27. Andrea Stinson led Charlotte with 15 points, and Vicky Bullett had 13 points, 9 rebounds and a franchise record-tying 5 blocks.
LYNX 68, SHOCK 51: In Minneapolis, Tonya Edwards scored 20 points to lead Minnesota over Detroit. A crowd of 12,122 was at Target Center for the first game in Lynx history and it wasn't long before they had something to cheer, as Minnesota went on a 20-2 run for a 24-5 lead.
Brandy Reed had 16 points for the Lynx, and Sonja Tate added 12 points and seven assists. Sandy Brondello had 15 points for the Shock (0-1), while Jennifer Azzi added 14 and Korie Hlede had 13. Val Whiting didn't score but had 16 rebounds.
Minnesota led 35-16 at halftime. Detroit's 16 points tied the third-lowest scoring total in a half in WNBA history and was a franchise low. The Shock never got closer than 15 points in the second half.
STARZZ 71, MIRACLE 65: In Salt Lake City, a three-pointer by 7-foot-2 Margo Dydek with 19 seconds left sealed Utah's season-opening victory over visiting Orlando.
The expansion Miracle made an 11-2 run late in the game, and Taj McWilliams's three-pointer with 49 seconds left cut Utah's lead to 67-65. The Starzz then couldn't find anyone open, and Dydek hesitated before launching a set shot from straightaway as the shot clock expired.
Dydek, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in her first game since being named MVP of the European championships, added a free throw with eight seconds left.
Wendy Palmer scored 22 points for Utah, and Natalie Williams had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
MONARCHS 96, MERCURY 85: Yolanda Griffith scored 19 of her 31 points in the second half, sparking Sacramento over visiting Phoenix. Griffith, the No. 2 overall pick in this season's WNBA draft, made her home-court debut a memorable one.
The victory, before a crowd of 11,221, marked the first by the Monarchs over the Mercury. Thanks to a franchise-record 96 points, the Monarchs (1-1) also won a home opener for the first time.