After building a 16-point lead with a big run, Nykesha Sales didn't want to take a break for halftime.

Sales scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half and the visiting Connecticut Sun beat the New York Liberty, 61-51, last night in Game 1 of the WNBA's Eastern Conference finals.

"All of us were doing some really good things," Sales said. "Putting the ball in the basket, rebounding, playing great defense. It all came together right before the half ended. We all felt that energy. It was too bad that it was halftime. We kind of wished the second half would start right away so we could keep that momentum."

Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Lindsay Whalen added 12 points for Connecticut, which used a 23-5 run in the first half to build a 16-point lead en route to its third straight win in the playoffs.

The Sun took control of the game with a 13-0 run over a three-minute stretch late in the first half. It was part of the bigger 23-5 spurt that turned an 8-6 deficit into a 29-13 lead with 1 minute 41 seconds remaining.

"I'm surprised at the way we came out to play," Liberty interim coach Pat Coyle said. "We can't keep putting ourselves in a hole. They played well, defensively and offensively. We didn't have our best effort."

* MONARCHS 74, STORM 72: In Sacramento, DeMya Walker made a leaning underhand shot at the buzzer in overtime, giving the Monarchs a victory over Seattle in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Tangela Smith had 24 points for the Monarchs, who rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half and forced overtime on Yolanda Griffith's layup with 48 seconds left in regulation.

Lauren Jackson had 31 points and 13 rebounds for Seattle, but last year's league MVP made a turnover with 16 seconds left in overtime. Sacramento got the ball to Walker, who reached around her defender and flipped in an awkward shot that hung on the rim while time expired, then dropped through the net.

Game 2 in the best-of-three series is tomorrow night in Seattle.