The 3-pointers were going down for the Utah Starzz, and their two-game, road-winning streak had a real chance to go to three games Saturday night in Gund Arena.
Erin Alexander's three with 8:05 remaining had Utah up again, this time by four points, after the Starzz withstood a 14-minute Cleveland run that started with a few minutes to go in the first half.But this is Cleveland.
The Utah Starzz had never beaten the Rockers, and they wouldn't this time, either. The Rockers outscored the Starzz 20-6 in the final eight minutes for their sixth straight win over Utah, 69-59.
Rocker center Isabelle Fijalkowski, the former University of Colorado star, did Utah in with 24 points and eight rebounds. She made 8 of 15 shots and was 8-for-9 on free throws. Eva Nemcova added 12, including four in the final minute, and Merlakia Jones had 10.
Fijalkowski scored eight in the first eight minutes of the second half to help Cleveland right itself after a first half in which Utah put on a 20-6 run and led by as many as eight (29-21).
Fijalkowski said coach Linda Hill-McDonald told the Rockers at halftime to step up their defense. "Basically, she told us we need to defend and play better on offense. We just stick together and do a very good job," she said.
For Utah, Wendy Palmer totaled 23 with a game-high 11 rebounds, her season high.
The power forward made all three of her 3-point attempts and has been the Starzz' leading scorer and rebounder in five of their last seven games since returning to the starting lineup after a broken toe slowed her early season. In her last seven games, Palmer has scored 138 points and gotten 59 rebounds. On the four-game road trip, she's gotten 67 points and 32 rebounds.
Utah (6-13) completed its longest road trip of the season with a 2-2 mark, and the Starzz will make their way home today for a one-game homestand against the Phoenix Mercury Monday night in the Delta Center.
Guard Tammi Reiss (sprained ankle) is expected to come off the injured list for Monday's game, which means someone from the road-trip roster would have to be cut. Alexander was Reiss' fill-in. Leading Starzz scorer/rebounder Elena Baranova (sprained ankle) may also be able to play by Monday. She spent most of the road trip watching after injuring an ankle last Sunday in Washington.
Cleveland (10-8) has won four of its last five games and is 4-0 in its recent home games.
Utah's downfall pretty much started when 7-2 Margo Dydek (8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) was called for an offernsive foul, her fourth, at 7:39. Ten seconds later, Palmer picked up a defensive foul to put the Rockers into the bonus, and Cleveland's Janice Braxton made the free throws. Fijalkowski blocked a Tricia Bader shot, and a few seconds later, Dydek was called for traveling to end another Utah possession. Chantel Tremitiere missed a layup, and Cleveland's Cindy Blodgett (NCAA scoring champ) hit her only shot of the night, a three that put the Rockers up for good at 54-53.
It took Cleveland a long time to get its points, but Utah possessions kept ending in fouls and turnovers. Dydek picked up her fifth foul at 4:26, and Fi-jal-kow-ski hit free throws, before Dydek rebounded a Kim Williams miss and put in Utah's first points in four minutes at 4:01.
The Rockers finished off a 17-2 run to make it 66-55 as Utah went 1-for-17 from the field until Palmer hit her third 3-pointer of the night with :25 left.