Comets win OT thriller over Sparks

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: July 22, 2008

Houston CometsHOUSTON — In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Houston Comets showed the WNBA who’s the team to beat as they defeated the Western Conference leading Los Angeles Sparks 75-72 in overtime at Reliant Arena.

Houston, who played in front of their second consecutive sellout crowd of 7,261, won their second straight game over a Western Conference opponent. They defeated the Minnesota Lynx 96-88 earlier in the week on “Comets Kids Day”.

The Comets well remembered the games on the road last week that they lost to both Minnesota and Los Angeles and they were fresh on their minds when they met.

“A lot of our attitudes were different,” Comets center Michelle Snow said. “We were upset about the last time that we played them. We knew that we could beat them. We were running the floor and forcing them to play us, because we were playing very aggressive.”

Houston (11-12), played hard from start to finish. The Sparks took an early lead, but the Comets countered with an 18-5 run to take a 23-14 lead at the end of the first period.

The Comets led by as many as 11 points in the game and they continued their physical play, outrebounding the Sparks 23-16 in the first half in route to a 40-30 halftime lead.

Snow was the only player in the game to score in double-figures in the first half with 11. Sancho Lyttle came off the bench to lead the team in rebounds with eight, seven of them coming off the defensive side.

“The momentum was going for us,” Comets head coach Karleen Thompson said. “Everyone stepped in and played a huge role throughout the game.”

Coach Thompson started the game with Tina Thompson, Tamecka Dixon, Snow, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba, and Shannon Johnson; but even when the reserves came in off the bench the team still didn’t miss a beat!

Lyttle, Erica White, Roneeka Hodges, and Matee Ajavon combined for 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocked shots off the bench. They also assisted with keeping WNBA No. 1 overall pick Candace Parker in check during the game.

Parker, who scored 34 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in her WNBA debut against the Phoenix Mercury, scored a career high 40 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, and five blocks against Houston on July 9th in their first meeting.

That was not going to be the case in their second meeting as the Comets held Parker to 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.

“We wanted to double Candace and force her back to the middle,” Coach Thompson stated. “We wanted to make her pass the ball and take away her one-on-one. She is a phenomenal player and tough to guard.”

Los Angeles will play Houston again at Reliant Arena on Saturday, September 6th. They will not face each other anymore this season unless it’s in the WNBA Playoffs.

Snow led Houston with 20 points. Dixon added 17, and Maiga-Ba scored 13. Lyttle was the leading rebounder with nine.

Lisa Leslie and Parker led Los Angeles with 16 points each. Marie Ferdinand-Harris added 15. Leslie also led the Sparks with nine rebounds.

Houston lost it’s lead in the fourth quarter after a late Sparks rally. Los Angeles took their first lead of the second-half with 7:46 remaining in the game on a basket by Ferdinand-Harris. The lead flipped flopped, until Dixon came up with a steal and was fouled. She hit two free throws, giving the Comets a 65-62 lead.

However, Leslie hit a three-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in the game to tie it at 65-65 and send it into overtime at the end of regulation. Dixon scored five of the Comets’ 10 points in OT to lead the team to victory.

“What a great game. What a great crowd to play in,” Los Angeles Sparks coach Michael Cooper said. “Houston has always been a stronghold for the league. The fans came out to support them.”


— Celebrity Watch in the Stands for the Comets/Sparks game include: Cleveland Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson, Houston Rockets Tracy McGrady, former WNBA legend Cynthia Cooper, Houston Texans DB DeMarcus Faggins, Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones, and forward James Posey of the New Orleans Hornets (formerly of World Champion Boston Celtics).

— Comets point guard Shannon Johnson tied her career-high assists with 13 against the Phoenix Mercury at US Airways Center on July 8th. She currently stands in fourth position on the WNBA’s all-time assists with a total of 1,324 in 308 games.

— Tina Thompson is now three steals away from 300 career steals.

— The Houston Comets in conjunction with Beyond the Court Organization and the Star of Hope Mission held a diaper drive prior to their game against the Sparks. Beyond the Court, a 501c3 organization istrying to collect a year’s supply of diapers for the Star of Hope Mission. A portion of the proceeds from ticket purchases for the game were donated to the Star of Hope Mission.

— The Comets re-signed Roneeka Hodges for the remainder of the 2008 season. Hodges, a 5-foot-11 guard from Florida State, was signed to a seven-day contract on July 5.

— Minnesota Lynx head coach Don Zierden missed the game vs. the Comets at Reliant Arena. Lynx media officials stated that Zierden was ill with pneumonia.

— Candice Wiggins of the Minnesota Lynx was named Hanns-G “Go Beyond Rookie of the Month for June.” Wiggins led all rookies with more than 18 ppg after averaging 18.6 points in 11 games. The third overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Wiggins has lived up to expectations following an All-American career at Stanford University. She is currently a leading candidate for the league’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award. With her all-around play, she has helped guide the Lynx to a 9-9 record, including a 5-0 start. she currently ranks second among rookies and 14th overall in the league overall in scoring (17.1) and she leads her team in assists with 3.5 per game.

— Connecticut’s Lindsay Whalen and San Antonio’s Becky Hammon were named the WNBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week. This is Whalen’s fourth-career Player of the Week award and her second this season. Hammon is earning her first Player of the Week award this season, her fourth career honor.

— Los Angeles Sparks rookie Candace Parker lists Comet forward Tina Thompson as one of two current WNBA players that she models herself after.