Nykesha Sales scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half and the Connecticut Sun beat the New York Liberty 61-51 on Friday night in Game 1 of the WNBA's Eastern Conference finals in New York.
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.
Crystal Robinson scored 17 points for New York, which lost for just the second time in its last seven games overall and third in last 11 at home.
Game 2 is Sunday at Connecticut.
Connecticut led 29-17 while setting a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a half.
The Sun took control of the game with a 13-0 run over a 3-minute stretch late in the first half. It was part of the bigger spurt that turned an 8-6 deficit into a 29-13 lead.
New York, which shot just 6-for-30 in the opening period, improved early in the second half. Robinson scored 11 points as the Liberty outscored the Sun 20-12 in the first 9 1/2 minutes after intermission to cut the deficit to 41-37.
However, Connecticut went on a 12-4 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes to push its lead back to 12 and New York didn't get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Sales had nine points in the big first-half run for Connecticut, which shot 42 percent from the field in the game.
New York finished at 36 percent shooting (20-for-56), including 5-for-18 on 3-pointers.
MONARCHS 74, STORM 72 (OT): At Sacramento, Calif., DeMya Walker made a leaning underhand shot at the buzzer in overtime, giving Sacramento a victory over Seattle in Game 1 of the WNBA's Western Conference finals Friday night.
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.
The Monarchs chased Walker to the other end of the court and mobbed her while officials reviewed the basket. Kings players Chris Webber and Mike Bibby and owners Joe and Gavin Maloof cheered at courtside when it was upheld.