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Griffith leads Monarchs to big win over Mercury

SHARE Griffith leads Monarchs to big win over Mercury

Monarchs 70, Mercury 63

PHOENIX — Although the WNBA playoffs are two weeks away, Yolanda Griffith is acting as if they have already begun.

Griffith performed with playoff intensity, scoring 16 points to lead the Sacramento Monarchs over the Phoenix Mercury 70-63 Sunday.

"We look at it that this is the playoffs now," said Griffith, who also had 14 rebounds. "We have to look at every game like it's a playoff. We have to focus that way.

"This is the right time for us to be playing well. We will be peaking going into the playoffs."

With the victory, the Monarchs moved a half-game ahead of the Mercury in the race for third place in the Western Conference. The Utah Starzz are two games behind Phoenix for the final playoff spot.

Sacramento has won three straight games and five of its last six. The loss snapped a three-game Phoenix winning streak. It was just the second time Sacramento has ever won in Phoenix.

Tangela Smith added 12 points and Ticha Penicheiro had 11 assists for Sacramento. Jennifer Gillom led Phoenix with 23 points and Brandy Reed had 16.

Sacramento broke the game open by outscoring Phoenix 16-9 in the first eight minutes of the second half to go up 51-39. Smith led the surge with six points. Phoenix climbed within four points in the final minute but got no closer.

The teams split two previous games this season.

Griffith scored nine points in the first half and the Monarchs led 35-30 at intermission.

The Monarchs controlled the boards, outrebounding the Mercury 30-24. Sacramento's bench outscored the Phoenix reserves 14-2.

Phoenix coach Cheryl Miller, upset with her team's performance, violated WNBA rules by not allowing the media into the Mercury's locker room until 35 minutes after the game.

SOL 64, STORM 51: At Seattle , Sheri Sam's 17 points and seven rebounds helped Miami hand Seattle its fourth straight loss.

Miami (10-17) moved out to a 20-8 lead midway through the first half, controlled the boards and never let Seattle (4-23), playing without its leading scorers Edna Campbell and Kamila Vodichkova, come close.

Miami, which never trailed, outrebounded Seattle 25-8 in the opening half and led 35-20 at halftime. Seattle went on a 10-0 run with 9:22 to play, cutting the Sol's 24-point lead to 14.

But Miami recovered with 3-pointers by Jamie Cassidy and Katrina Colleton, and although Seattle chipped away, it could not cut the lead to fewer than 11.

FIRE 76, MIRACLE 55: At Portland, Ore., Sophia Witherspoon scored 17 of her game-high 27 points in the second half as Portland handed Orlando its fifth straight loss.

Portland, which trailed 33-32 at halftime, used an 11-0 run early in the second half to take a 52-40 lead with 13:55 left. Leading 58-47, Portland put the game away with a 6-0 run that Witherspoon finished with a layup.