LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Lisa Leslie had 23 points and nine
rebounds as the Los Angeles Sparks defeated the New York Liberty,
68-62, in a WNBA exhibition opener for both teams on Saturday.
Becky Hammon scored 16 and Bethany Donaphin 10 for the Liberty,
which played without three starters. Small forward Crystal Robinson
and shooting guard Vickie Johnson were completing their commitments
to their European teams, while center Tari Phillips was sidelined
because of a fractured fourth metacarpal in her left hand.
Second-round draft choice Doneeka Hodges scored 12 points in 13
minutes for the Sparks before a crowd announced at 2,986 at the
Pyramid at California State University, Long Beach.
Rookie guard April McDivitt's 3-point basket with 5:36 remaining
pulled New York to within three, 62-59. Los Angeles got lay-ups
from Tamika Whitmore, a former Liberty forward playing in her first
game for the Sparks, and Leslie, to go up 66-59, with 2:41
McDivitt's 3-point basket with 27.1 seconds left cut the deficit
to 66-62, but Teresa Weatherspoon sealed the victory by making two
free throws with 20.3 seconds to play.
Sparks All-Star forward DeLisha Milton-Jones did not play as she
continues to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her