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Comets 65, Mercury 62

July 22, 1998

PHOENIX (AP) _ Cynthia Cooper scored 19 of her 23 points in the second half Tuesday night as the Houston Comets avenged their only loss of the season with a 65-62 victory over the Phoenix Mercury.

Sheryl Swoopes added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Comets, who won their 12th in a row to improve to 17-1. Their lone loss was 69-66 at Phoenix on June 24.

Cooper, the WNBA’s leading scorer at 23.5 points per game, scored four points and was just 1-for-6 from the field in the first half, but she came alive in the second to lead the late burst that made the difference.

Cooper scored 13 in the game’s final 7:15, six during a 10-3 surge as Houston broke away from a 47-47 tie to go up 57-50 on Monica Lamb’s two free throws with 2:18 to play.

Jennifer Gillom, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix, sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 57-53 with 2:02 to play, but the Mercury (12-5) could get no closer.

Cooper sealed the victory with four free throws in the final 36.6 seconds. Gillom’s 3-pointer at the buzzer provided the final margin.

Playing in front of a hostile American West Arena crowd of 14,705, Houston shot out to an 8-0 lead and never trailed in the first half, leading 26-22 at the break behind Swoopes’ 10 points.

Phoenix outscored the Comets 10-4 to start the second half to go up 32-30 on Michele Timms’ 3-pointer with 14:09 to go and Gillom’s free throw with 13:30 to play.

Phoenix went ahead 40-36, but Swoopes’ steal and three-point play highlighted an 8-0 run that put Houston back on top 44-40. Michelle Griffiths’ two free throws tied the game for the final time 47-47 with 7:12 to go.

Houston won the game at the foul line, going 25-for-30. Cooper was 11-for-13 and Lamb was 7-for-7. Phoenix was 13-for-19.

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