Powell leads Monarchs to 88-73 win over LibertyJul 24, 2009 - 3:02 AM By VIN A. CHERWOO AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK(AP) -- After getting a needed victory, the Sacramento Monarchs believe they are on the verge of turning their season around.
Nicole Powell scored a career-high 32 points and had nine rebounds to lead Sacramento to an 88-73 win over the New York Liberty on Thursday night, snapping the Monarchs' six-game losing streak.
"We played tonight like we have a chance to make the playoffs," Sacramento coach and general manager John Whisenant said. "We were just a little bit better. We got some pressure on them when they were trying to press us."
The Monarchs (4-14) have the league's worst record and are last in the six-team Western Conference. San Antonio, at 7-8, is holding down the fourth and final playoff spot in the conference.
Kara Lawson scored 15 points and DeMya Walker had 13 points and nine rebounds for Sacramento, which won for the first time since July 7 against Chicago. The Monarchs shot 59 percent from the field, led by Powell's 12-for-16 performance - including 5 for 8 on 3-pointers.
Sacramento led by 13 in the third quarter before New York got within four early in the fourth. But the Monarchs responded with a 14-1 run to restore their double-digit advantage and get Whisenant his first win since he replaced the fired Jenny Boucek two games into the skid.
"We had four practices and five games in nine days, so it's been hard to get things changed," said Whisenant, who led the Monarchs to a WNBA championship in 2005 and a finals appearance the following year before stepping down as coach.
"I played the veterans that played for me before in '05 and '06 a lot down the stretch and they gave us good leadership," he said of players including Walker, Powell, Lawson and Ticha Penicheiro.
Walker believes the Monarchs are close to turning the corner under Whisenant.
"He brings that confidence to us and that is when we do well,' Walker said. "With some more practice, we should do well. ... It's better to be on this side than losing."
Essence Carson scored a career-high 20 points and Shameka Christon added 14 for New York (6-9). The Liberty shot 40 percent, including 12 for 28 on 3s to tie a season high for makes from beyond the arc.
"We didn't defend as well as we needed to," Liberty coach Pat Coyle said. "We missed some early shots. When you make shots, it puts pressure on the defense. When you miss them, it doesn't."
Sidney Spencer and Ashley Battle hit consecutive 3s and Leilani Mitchell had a driving layup in a span of 1:16 to pull the Liberty within five with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
Powell's jumper pushed Sacramento ahead by nine in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Janel McCarville made a layup with 6:32 to play to pull New York to 68-64, but the Monarchs scored nine consecutive points, including two jumpers by Powell, for a 13-point lead again with 4:10 to go.
"There are so many factors as to why we have not been playing well," Powell said. "We did not have Kara in training camp and DeMya is just getting back from two years of knee problems, so it has been really hard to get a rhythm."
Lawson's jumper 35 seconds later made it 79-65, and Powell's 3 a minute later capped the 14-1 run and gave Sacramento a 17-point lead, its biggest of the game.
"She was getting some daylight on those 3-point shots," Carson said of Powell. "That is pretty much it. She was just doing what she does, hitting the long ball."
NEW YORK 73 FINAL
Jul 23 9:32 PM
NEW YORK 17 END, 1ST QTR
Jul 23 8:02 PM
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- Liberty trade for All-Star guard Shoni Schimmel May 2
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