Connecticut Sun Coach Mike Thibault kept his cool during Charlotte's fast start. That was all his players needed to see.

Nykesha Sales went on to score 20 points and Lindsay Whalen added a career-high 11 as the Sun rallied for a 71-62 victory last night at home.

"We saw the confidence in coach, the 'Don't worry about it, the shots will come,' " Sales said. "We didn't see any fright in his face and we sort of responded to that."

The Sun responded with defense. That defense included pressing and disrupting Charlotte's deliberate pace; Connecticut deflected shots and combined for 11 steals. Whalen, a rookie guard, had a career-high four steals and five assists. The Sun got 26 points off 18 turnovers.

"Defense is a priority," Sales said. "In order to win, every team has to have it."

* LIBERTY 71, COMETS 62: Elena Baranova and Becky Hammon each scored 13 points and visiting New York earned its fifth straight win.

The Liberty blew a 16-point second-half lead but were able to hold on and defeat Houston for the second time in 10 days.

The Liberty (5-1) defeated the Comets, 68-62, on May 23 at Madison Square Garden.

* MONARCHS 68, SPARKS 51: Yolanda Griffith scored 20 points and had seven rebounds for Sacramento at home.

Griffith, a candidate to be added to the U.S. Olympic team, outplayed Los Angeles center and Olympian Lisa Leslie. Leslie scored just four points before fouling out with 56 seconds remaining.

The Monarchs (2-3) recorded their largest margin of victory over the Sparks in their history.

* LYNX 55, SILVER STARS 47: Katie Smith scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half for Minnesota.

The game was tied at 45 with 3 minutes 15 seconds to play. Host Minnesota closed the game with a 10-2 run.

* STORM 72, MERCURY 45: Lauren Jackson finished with 15 points after going scoreless in the first half for host Seattle.

The Storm was dominating after the break -- it outscored Phoenix 50-22.

Diana Taurasi, the first overall pick of the 2004 draft, didn't score in the first 13 minutes and finished with six points for the Mercury.