Kym Hampton knew the Charlotte Sting was going to make a run at the New York Liberty in an attempt to reach the WNBA Finals for the first time.

Hampton was right, and her three baskets during the final three minutes led the Liberty to a 74-70 victory over the Sting last night, evening the WNBA Eastern Conference finals.

The deciding game in the best-of-three series will be played tonight in New York.

With the game tied 65-65, Hampton came up big.

"I said to myself, 'We've been here before, so come on, let's pull away,' " Hampton said. "You don't even get worried anymore. We just make sure that we got basket for basket and come up with the baskets that count."

Teresa Weatherspoon led New York with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting as the Liberty shot an Eastern Conference playoff-record 55 percent from the field before a crowd of 13,510 at Madison Square Garden.

After Weatherspoon's three-pointer tied the game, Hampton capped her six-point run with a layup that gave New York a 73-70 lead with 59 seconds remaining.

Rhonda Mapp, who was held to just two points after scoring 16 in Charlotte's victory on Friday, was called for charging with 38 seconds left.

Weatherspoon made one of two free throws with 23 seconds remaining, and Dawn Staley's three-pointer in the final seconds rimmed out.

* COMETS 83, SPARKS 55: Facing elimination from the playoffs, Cynthia Cooper scored 22 points to lead host Houston over Los Angeles and even the best-of-three WNBA Western Conference series.

Cooper was only 4 of 16 from the field in Game 1, but she had 11 points in the first half yesterday and helped the Comets take charge in the second half.

The Comets increased their all-time home record to 44-7. Los Angeles is 0-9 at Compaq Center, the site of the deciding game tonight.

The Comets led 34-28 at halftime, and Cooper led the surge at the start of the second half that gave them a 47-33 lead with 12:23 left in the game.

CAPTION: Comets' Sheryl Swoopes (22) and Sparks' Mwadi Mabika (4) battlefor a rebound in Houston's win.