Seattle meets Monarchs in West finals
SEATTLE -- The Seattle Storm would have loved another shot at the rival Los Angeles Sparks.
They'll take homecourt advantage against Sacramento instead.
The Storm open the WNBA's Western Conference finals Friday at Sacramento, which upset Los Angeles in the first round. Seattle will be home for Game 2 on Sunday and, if necessary, Game 3 on Tuesday.
After the Storm swept Minnesota in the first round, coach Anne Donovan's competitive side wanted a chance at the Sparks since they were the defending Western Conference champs.
On the other hand, she wasn't about to pass up a chance to play twice at KeyArena, where the Storm went 14-4 this season.
"You always want home court advantage,'' Donovan said.
Playing Sacramento helped Seattle avoid getting kicked off its home court. A scheduling conflict would have forced Seattle to play a home game against Los Angeles on the University of Washington campus.
"We're very comfortable at KeyArena,'' Storm guard Betty Lennox said. "That's what brings us energy and raises the energy level really high.''
Defense was important in Seattle's first-round sweep. After allowing 66.6 points per game in the regular season, Seattle held the Lynx to fewer than 60 points in both first-round games.
Minnesota shot only 42 percent in the series and turned the ball over 20 times in each game.
"If you take that away, I don't know if we win the series,'' Donovan said.
Seattle became more aggressive, running more traps and pressuring Minnesota's guards when they crossed midcourt. The increased pressure didn't go unnoticed by the Lynx.
"They were aggressive and it was hard to push the ball,'' Minnesota's Svetlana Abrosimova said. "They deserved those turnovers. It wasn't us throwing the ball away. They just put a lot of pressure on us.''
Seattle went 3-1 against the Monarchs during the regular season, but two of Seattle's wins were by three and two points. Defense was a factor, as Sacramento shot just 38 percent and committed 51 turnovers in Seattle's three wins.
The Monarchs shot nearly 46 percent in their victory, but Seattle played that game without leading scorer Lauren Jackson.
"Defense sets the tone for us,'' guard Tully Bevilaqua said. "We're hungry.''
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press