Kym Hampton and Sue Wicks combined for 16 second-half points to lead the New York Liberty to a 60-56 victory over the Detroit Shock last night in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The victory moved New York 1 1/2 games ahead of Charlotte, which lost at Sacramento last night, for first place in the Eastern Conference. Detroit is one-half game ahead of Orlando and a game ahead of Washington for the final spot in the East.
Hampton, Wicks and Crystal Robinson all had 12 points for New York, while Vickie Johnson added 10 points. Sandy Brondello had 15 points for Detroit, but no other Shock player reached double figures.
The Liberty led 31-25 at halftime, but blew open the game by starting the second half with a 15-2 run. Hampton had six points in the surge and Wicks added five.
Detroit scored the next six points to pull within 46-33, but Robinson ended the rally with a three-pointer. Brondello, though, scored 12 points in just over three minutes, getting Detroit within 52-48 with 5 minutes 4 seconds remaining.
Hampton split a pair of free throws but got her own offensive rebound after missing the second. That gave New York another possession, and Johnson scored to put the Liberty up by seven.
Detroit cut the margin to 55-52, and the margin was still three when Wicks turned over the ball with 31 seconds to go.
Wendy Palmer made a layup to make it 57-56 with 16 seconds left, but Johnson responded with two free throws. Claudia Maria Das Neves missed an NBA-length three-pointer, and Wicks clinched the game by making one of two free throws.
STARZZ 67, MERCURY 64: Margo Dydek had 17 points, and Korie Hlede sparked a late run for host Utah.
The game was played at the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State in Ogden, 33 miles north of Salt Lake City, because of nearly $5 million in tornado damage at Delta Center. It was the first WNBA game not played on an NBA court.
MONARCHS 78, STING 64: Ruthie Bolton-Holifield made six three-pointers and scored 25 points to lead host Sacramento to its fifth straight victory.
The win clinched a playoff spot for the Monarchs (19-10), who moved one game ahead of idle Los Angeles in the Western Conference.