The New York Liberty, behind Crystal Robinson's 18 points, advanced to the WNBA Finals with a 69-54 victory over the Charlotte Sting last night at Madison Square Garden.

Robinson's 7-for-8 shooting helped the Liberty clinch the Eastern Conference title in the decisive game of the best-of-three series.

New York advanced to the WNBA Finals beginning Thursday against the Houston Comets, who have won both league championships. The Comets, who beat the Liberty in the 1997 finals, defeated Los Angeles, 72-62, last night.

Robinson's three-pointer, her fourth of the night, gave New York a 65-51 lead with just over a minute left and ignited the crowd of 12,929.

New York, which shot 54 percent, got 13 points from Vickie Johnson and 10 points apiece from Tamika Whitmore and Sophia Witherspoon.

Andrea Stinson, the only Sting player in double figures, had 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting. But the Sting shot just 37 percent and was outrebounded 32-20.

Ahead 32-26 at halftime, New York extended the lead to 45-36 with 13 minutes 42 seconds remaining behind eight points by Robinson, who scored consecutive three-pointers and a basket. Witherspoon added another three-pointer for a 50-38 lead with 11:12 remaining. Kym Hampton's jumper extended the margin to 60-43 with just over five minutes left in the game.

Hampton had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Liberty. Teresa Weatherspoon had a WNBA playoff-record 11 assists.

COMETS 72, SPARKS 62: In Houston, Cynthia Cooper had 23 points, a career-high 12 assists and 7 rebounds as the two-time defending champions rallied in the second half to defeat Los Angeles in the finale of the best-of-three series.

It will be the third time this year that teams from New York and Texas have met for a professional championship. Dallas beat Buffalo for the NHL's Stanley Cup and San Antonio defeated the New York Knicks for the NBA title.