Johnson, Silver Stars advance to Western Conference finalsAug 28, 2007 - 6:34 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Vickie Johnson and the San Antonio Silver Stars gave their city its first WNBA playoff series win. And they did it in dramatic fashion.
Johnson converted a layup with under a second remaining to lift the Silver Stars into the Western Conference finals with an 80-78 victory over the Sacramento Monarchs in the deciding game of the best-of-three matchup on Monday night.
Sophia Young scored a franchise playoff-high 26 points and Becky Hammon added 22 for the Silver Stars, who won their first playoff series since moving to San Antonio from Utah after the 2002 season - the franchise's last trip to conference finals.
"We wanted to start it (the last play) at 12 (seconds)," Johnson said. "It wasn't designed for me. I just kept moving and Becky found me open. I just wanted to catch the ball and make the basket."
The Silver Stars will face the Phoenix Mercury with a trip to the WNBA Finals on the line.
"San Antonio is a special team," Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek said. "They have a special spirit about them. They have class, they work hard and they work together. They have great character. It's taken them a long way."
"Phoenix is a team on top of their game," San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. "Their offensive firepower is impressive. I'm not sure they can play any better. ... They have a very talented offense and the team is playing well."
Trailing by double digits throughout the second half, the Monarchs finally took the lead on Kara Lawson's layup to make it 76-75 with 1:07 left in the contest. But the Silver Stars did not go away.
Hammon nailed a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left to make it 78-76. Lawson then answered back to tie the game, setting up Johnson's heroics.
"What a game," Hughes said. "We knew Sacramento had a championship-caliber about them. I'm pleased with the way (it all) came out. The execution of the last play from Becky to Vickie (Johnson); that's what it came down to."
The 5-9 guard, who collected 14 points and seven assists, took a nifty bounce pass from Hammon and hit a layup just before the buzzer for San Antonio, which shot 46 percent (29-of-63) from the field, including 10-of-17 on 3-pointers.
Young shot 10-of-15 from the field and Hammon was 8-of-19, including 5-of-9 from the arc to set the tone for the Silver Stars.
"I knew I had to step up for our team," Young said. "I just kept moving and Becky, Vickie and Helen (Darling) did a good job of finding me tonight."
Nicole Powell scored 20 points for Sacramento, which made the WNBA Finals the last two seasons, winning the championship in 2005 and falling in five game to Detroit last year.
SAN ANTONIO 80 FINAL
Aug 27 11:07 PM
SAN ANTONIO 66 END, 3RD QTR
Aug 27 10:35 PM
SAN ANTONIO 49 HALFTIME
Aug 27 9:55 PM
SAN ANTONIO 27 END, 1ST QTR
Aug 27 9:31 PM
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