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Sacramento feasts on Utah’s turnovers

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Monarchs 83, Starzz 62

SACRAMENTO — Paced by 15 second-half points from Olympian Ruthie Bolton-Holifield and Utah's customary turnover woes, the Sacramento Monarchs outscored the Utah Starzz 54-28 after the intermission on national television Friday night at ARCO Arena on the way to an 85-62 victory.

The Starzz wound up with 20 turnovers, same as they had Monday night when they beat the Monarchs in the Delta Center by nine points, but this time Sacramento scored 25 points off those whiffs.

"We can't survive turning the ball over 20 times," said Starzz forward Adrienne Goodson, who chipped in 16 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots, second only to Natalie Williams' 19 points (tying Bolton-Holifield's 19 for game-high honors) and eight rebounds for the Starzz.

"It's just not going to happen for us, and at some point, we have to get better at that," Goodson said in a radio interview. "We're not going to survive the second half of the season with those types of moves."

The loss dropped Utah back to .500 at 8-8 and marked the halfway point of the 32-game WNBA season for the Starzz. Sacramento, third in the Western Conference, moved to 10-5.

"We played a good, solid 34-minute ballgame," said Starzz coach Fred Williams. "At the crucial times when we were tied, we wanted to get kind of fancy with the ball, not make good decisions with the ball and not stay patient within the offense. We started throwing away passes, and they started picking them off and converting them at the other end.

"I felt the first half, we had a nice game plan, keeping the game slow and to our tempo," added Williams. "The last eight minutes, we just didn't make good decisions with our passing. And the second thing was we gave them too many second-chance points. We'd make them miss a shot and didn't box out, and they got second-chance points on us."

Utah led at the half 34-31, thanks to 14 points from Natalie Williams. But Bolton-Holifield, who scored 21 in Monday's Starzz victory in the Delta Center, broke away from her 1-for-5 first half to shoot 5-for-6 and made four free throws.

Sacramento, 6-0 at home, took its first lead since 11-10 at 41-40 on two Bolton-Holifield free throws after she'd stolen the ball from Natalie Williams and gotten fouled by Dalma Ivanyi on a fast-break layin for a couple more of those "points-off-turnovers."

From there on, the Monarchs doubled Utah's offensive output, 44-22, as Utah's inside players began picking up fouls. Center Margo Dydek, who had nine rebounds and five blocked shots, got her fourth foul at 15:18 of the second half and left the game, only to have replacement Naomi Mulitauaopele immediately get a foul. Mulitauaopele's fourth foul came four minutes later, and she was replaced by Amy Herrig.

Sacramento had four players score in double figures, including Tangela Smith with 14, Kedra Holland-Corn with 13, and Olympian Yolanda Griffith at 11 with eight rebounds and five fouls as she and Natalie Williams dueled down low.

Utah spends the first day of the month and the second half of its season traveling to Seattle and KeyArena for an 8 p.m. MDT game against the bottom team in the Western Conference. The Storm is 2-11 after Friday's loss to Minnesota in KeyArena.

The Starzz played without first-off-the-bench LaTonya Johnson, who suffered a bruise during a practice-time collision with Dydek. Fred Williams said he thought Johnson might be able to play in Seattle tonight.