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Monarchs clinch at least share of West crown

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Rebekkah Brunson had 17 points and 12
rebounds to lead the Sacramento Monarchs to a 72-63 victory Tuesday
night over the Los Angeles Sparks.

After weathering a 20-0 run by the Sparks in the first half, the
Monarchs (21-8) led 37-35 at the break and held the edge for most
of the second half.

The Monarchs clinched a tie for first place in the West and widened their lead over defending champion Seattle to five games with five remaining. Sacramento can wrap up the regular-season title Thursday with a win over San Antonio or a loss by the Storm against Minnesota.

DeMya Walker added 17 points for the Monarchs. Reserve Mwadi
Mabika led the Sparks (13-16) with 12 points.

Los Angeles was without coach Henry Bibby, whose job was
believed to be in jeopardy. Less than five minutes before tip-off,
a Sparks spokesman said Bibby would not coach for personal reasons.

Assistant coach Joe Bryant took Bibby's post for Tuesday's game.
Team officials in a news release said more information would be
released Wednesday afternoon.

However, Sparks owner Johnny Buss, son of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, told the media that Tuesday's coaching shuffle will remain in place for the rest of the season.

"I found out 30 minutes before the game, and was told that I
would have to handle the bench tonight," said Bryant, the father
of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who was in attendance. "I
guess we'll all know (more) sometime tomorrow. I don't know. I'm
just going to go home and absorb all this."

Bibby was hired in the offseason after eight-plus seasons as
coach of the University of Southern California men's basketball
program.

He led the Trojans to three NCAA tournament appearances but was
fired in the midst of his ninth season.

With the loss, the Sparks fell one game behind Phoenix for the
fourth and final playoff spot in the West.