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Comets crash into New York, Liberty suffers

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If cheers could be converted into points, the New York Liberty might have had a chance against the Houston Comets.

If front of a vocal crowd of 17,404, the defending WNBA champion Comets routed New York 79-54 on Wednesday night - the worst defeat in the Liberty's two-year history."We have our heads in our hands," Liberty forward Sue Wicks said. "We are disappointed and disgusted, but that is a phenomenal team."

The 25-point defeat topped a 19-point loss to Phoenix last July 7.

"It was just a great performance by a great team," Liberty coach Nancy Darsch said. "We may have been dejected, but we didn't quit."

New York (8-6) won its first six games at Madison Square Garden before unraveling in the first half against Houston (11-1), which led 48-22 at intermission.

"In the first half we were pathetic," said Liberty forward Rebecca Lobo who scored a team-high 14 points. "In the second half we played team basketball. That's what the New York Liberty needs to do to win."

Cynthia Cooper scored 17 of her 23 points in the opening half as the Comets beat the Liberty for the second time this season.

"We know New York well," Cooper said. "We wanted to let the game come to us."

Tina Thompson added 15 points and Sheryl Swoopes had 12 for the Comets in her second game back after she collapsed during practice last week. Houston made 10-of-18 3-pointers, including six by Cooper, the WNBA's leading scorer.

MONARCHS 76, SPARKS 71: At Inglewood, Calif., Latasha Byears scored four points in the final 48 seconds as the Sacramento Monarchs beat the Los Angeles Sparks before a franchise-low crowd of 4,851 at the Forum.

After Byears gave the Monarchs the lead, she added two free throws with 25 seconds left after the Sparks' Pam McGee was called for an offensive foul with 30 seconds left.

ROCKERS 77, MYSTICS 65: At Cleveland, Suzie McConnell Serio scored 14 points, including six in a 12-4 run to break open a close game. Eva Nemcova scored 15 points to lead Cleveland (6-5), which snapped a three-game home losing streak. Rushia Brown added 14.

Washington (1-11) was led by Nikki McCray's 14 points.

MERCURY 78, SHOCK 76: At Auburn Hills, Mich., Jennifer Gillom's 3-pointer as time expired gave Phoenix a victory over Detroit.

Sandy Brondello's basket had given Detroit a 76-75 lead with 5.7 seconds left. Gillom took a pass from Michelle Timms and hit a 21-footer from the right wing at the buzzer. Coach Nancy Lieberman-Cline and several Shock players protested to no avail that the shot had come after time expired.