Comets 70, Sting 54
HOUSTON (AP) _ Cynthia Cooper prayed for injured teammate Wanda Guyton. Then she lifted the Houston Comets into the WNBA championship game.
Cooper, the WNBA’s MVP and leading scorer in its inaugural season, had 31 points, as the Comets rallied after Guyton was injured in a hard fall for a 70-54 victory over the Charlotte Sting in a semifinal playoff game Thursday night.
The Comets will play in the WNBA championship game Saturday in The Summit against the winner of the other semifinal between Phoenix and New York.
``I didn’t tell her we’d win the game for her because I was just concerned about Wanda at the time,″ Cooper said. ``I prayed over her and told her that she would be all right and that she would be with us.″
The Eastern Conference champion Comets trailed the Sting 33-29 at halftime and the score was tied 48-48 with 8:17 left in the game when the 6-foot-1 Guyton collided with teammate Tina Thompson under the Charlotte basket.
She complained of a sore neck and was taken off the court on a stretcher and transported to Methodist Hospital.
Team physician Bruce Moseley said Guyton suffered at least a mild concussion from the fall and her status would be evaluated on Friday.
After play resumed, the Comets went on a 10-0 run to take command of the game. They outscored the Sting 22-6 over the rest of the game.
Sting coach Marynell Meadors thought Guyton’s injury was the turning point.
``I really think it bothered us,″ Meadors said. ``I think it also stopped our momentum. Everybody was tired. I thought it was a very hard-fought game. I was pleased with our effort. We just couldn’t get our shots to fall in the last couple of minutes.″
Cooper made two free throws that tied the score 48-48 and had eight points in the Comets’ late charge, including a big 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down with 6:32 to play. That boosted the lead to 56-48.
``We were trying to get back in the second half and we weren’t shooting very well,″ Thompson said. ``We had to play really good defense. Tammy (Jackson) and I decided we were going to stop them from getting the ball inside. The first half, they got too many shots.″
Janeth Arcain added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Comets.
``What a game,″ Comets coach Van Chancellor said. ``The score was 70-54 and I thought it was 70-68 the way I was coaching on the sidelines. I worked hard but the players worked harder.″
Andrea Congreaves and Rhonda Mapp each scored 12 points to lead the Sting, while Vicky Bullett added 10 points.
The Comets beat Charlotte three of four times in the regular season but the Sting weren’t intimidated in the first half, taking advantage of Houston’s poor shooting for the halftime lead.
After Cooper hit a basket with 7:07 left in the half to make it 23-23, the Comets went 5:10 without a point while the Sting went on an 8-0 run for a 31-23 lead, the biggest lead of the half.
Houston shot 34.4 percent from the field in the first half and the Sting, who missed their first three shots, came on strong, hitting 51.9 percent.
The Sting lost only two home games in the regular season but had a 3-11 road record.