Monarchs 66, Sun 55

Yolanda Griffith had 19 points and 11 rebounds with relentless inside play Sunday, and the Sacramento Monarchs moved to the brink of their first championship with a 66-55 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

Kara Lawson (West Springfield) scored 16 points and hit six free throws in the final minute for the Monarchs, and Nicole Powell made four three-pointers. But Sacramento took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series with its defense, which frustrated the Sun into 16 turnovers.

The Monarchs opened the second half with a 15-5 run, including eight points from Griffith, and they led 50-36 with 111/2 minutes to play. Connecticut rallied with 12 consecutive points in four minutes, but Griffith snapped her club's five-minute scoreless skid with a layup, and Sacramento finished on a 9-0 run while the Sun couldn't score in the final 3 minutes 16 seconds.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Sun and Nykesha Sales had 17 points.

Game 4 is Tuesday night, also at Arco Arena.

* SWOOPES WINS MVP: Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes was honored as the WNBA's most valuable player for the third time, edging Seattle's Lauren Jackson in the closest vote in league history.

Swoopes, who also won in 2000 and 2002, received 327 points from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Jackson, who won in 2003, drew 325 points and four more first-place votes than Swoopes, who led the WNBA in scoring (18.6 points per game).

Rebekkah Brunson (Georgetown), left, ties up the Sun's Lindsay Whalen, who scored just two points and committed five turnovers in 22 minutes.