Remember Wednesday night when Wendy Palmer of the Utah Starzz celebrated her birthday with a career-high 31 points and 11 rebounds and hauled her team to a 10-point win against Sacramento in the Delta Center?
It happened in reverse - worse - Saturday night for the Starzz in ARCO Arena.Monarch Linda Burgess, whose career high was 20 points last year against Utah when she played for Los Angeles, scored 33 points as the Monarchs exploded for an 82-55 victory over Utah in the Starzz's second-to-last game of the season.
Burgess came off the bench in the first half, but center Tangela Smith, who played well (13 points) against Utah's 7-foot-2 Margo Dydek Wednesday, couldn't play in the second half because of knee tendinitis.
Burgess made one of two free throws on Dydek's third foul at 17:23 of the second half to key Sacramento's comeback. Latasha Byears made two baskets to make it 43-35 for Utah, Ticha Penicheiro scored and Burgess made a basket and a 3-pointer to make it a 13-0 run to make it 43-42 for Utah. Burgess simply couldn't miss until 3:24, and Byears tipped that one in for a 17-point Monarch lead.
"We recognized once she hit four or five layups that she was hot," said Monarch guard Lady Hardmon.
Utah fell to last place in the WNBA Western Conference at 8-21 with Phoenix coming to the Delta Center to end the regular season Monday night. Sacramento climbed out of last, now 8-20.
Utah led by 13 points with 18:43 left in the game and was outscored 52-12 from there.
The Monarchs made a 10-0 run after Tammi Reiss' basket at 18:43 had put Utah up 43-30.
Palmer, who'd heated up with nine points in the last 31/2 minutes of the first half, stopped a Monarch break after one of Utah's 21 turnovers by knocking the ball out of bounds, but Palmer hit one of the struts holding up the basket and injured her right leg. She was hobbled after that. She had some rebounds but didn't score again.
Utah didn't score for nearly six minutes. The Starzz shot 54 percent the first half but made two field goals in nine minutes while the Monarchs outscored them 28-4 (two Elena Baranova shots).
Baranova would get one more basket, and Kim Williams put in three, but Burgess couldn't stop herself, and point guard Penicheiro added a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Baranova led Utah with 13 points, Williams had 12 and Dydek 11. Palmer had nine points and 12 rebounds.
Hardmon, traded by Utah to Sacramento in the preseason for Chantel Tremitiere, finally got untracked against her old team with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
"The first three games, I was hesitant," said Hardmon. "It was a new team. Late in the season, we're playing Utah again, and I'm at my peak. I don't have any animosity (about the trade). They needed a pure point guard."