The Utah Starzz on a winning streak.
Stop laughing. It could happen.The 3-6 Starzz, who won their first road game in 345 days Thursday, 58-57 at Los Angeles, and who lost by two in double overtime at home to the defending-champion Houston Comets, meet the 2-7 Sacramento Monarchs Sunday at 7 p.m. MDT in ARCO Arena and Monday at 7 in the Delta Center.
Sacramento's strength since the very beginning of the WNBA in June 1997 has been All-WNBA first-team shooting guard Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, but the Monarchs will play without her for the rest of the season. She injured her left knee vs. Detroit June 23 and will have surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament and also has sprains in two other ligaments in the same knee. Sacramento is to add a player soon to take her roster spot.
The Monarchs are coming off an 84-67 loss Friday at Houston, its third loss in four games since losing Bolton-Holifield.
With that win in the Forum Thursday, Utah moved ahead of both L.A. and Sacramento in the WNBA Western Conference. The league's worst team is the 1-9 Washington Mystics.
Utah was 1-3 against Sacramento last year and lost two exhibitions to the Monarchs as well. But Bolton-Holifield averaged 19.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a game last year, and Chantel Tremitiere spent more minutes on the floor as Sacramento's point guard than any other WNBA player last year. Now, of course, she's with Utah, and former Starzz player Lady Hardmon is playing 23 minutes a night averaging 6.0 points at shooting guard for Sacramento.
Without Bolton-Holifield, Hardmon is a starter in a three-guard lineup that features LaTasha Byars (10.0 ppg) and WNBA No. 2 draft choice Ticha Penicheiro (6.3 ppg, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds) at the point. Byars scored 15, Hardmon 10 and Penicheiro nine at Houston. Rookie Quacey Barnes and veteran Linda Burgess are the other starters.
Had not 7-foot-2 Margo Dydek been available in the April 29 draft, Utah undoubtedly would have taken Penicheiro, the most-wanted NCAA player available. Instead, Sacramento got Penicheiro and found Tremitiere expendable. Tremitiere started the last two games for Utah and made only three total turnovers.