One year after leading the Cleveland Rockers to the Eastern Conference title, third-year coach Linda Hill-MacDonald was fired today, Rockers General Manager Wayne Embry announced just minutes after Cleveland's final game of the 1999 season.

Hill-MacDonald's assistant, Susan Yow, also was relieved of her duties.

"We want to thank Linda and Susan for their contributions to this organization," Embry said in a statement. "They both played an important role in launching the Rockers and the WNBA.

"At this time, we feel it is in the best interest of the organization to move forward in a new direction."

Although the Rockers finished the season on a high note, handing the Eastern Conference champion New York Liberty a 66-56 loss, Cleveland ended the season with a league-worst 7-25 record, losing eight of its last nine games.

Hill-MacDonald leaves Cleveland with a 42-48 career coaching record in the WNBA.

The Rockers ended their 1998 campaign with a 20-10 mark--the second best in the league--after being eliminated by Phoenix in the semifinals.

Hill-MacDonald has more than 15 years of coaching experience, and previously spent seven years as head coach at the University of Minnesota, where in 1994 she guided the Gophers to their first NCAA tournament appearance.

In the season finale, Merlakia Jones scored 19 points and had a game-high six steals to help the Rockers snap an eight-game losing streak.

New York (18-14) already had won the Eastern Conference title.

Eva Nemcova added 16 points for the Rockers.

Vickie Johnson and Teresa Weatherspoon each scored 15 points for the Liberty, which earned a first-round bye in the playoffs.