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Monarchs score big victory

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The defending champion Sacramento Monarchs got off to a record-breaking start in the WNBA finals.

Kara Lawson scored 22 points, Nicole Powell had 21, and DeMya Walker added 17 -- each reaching career playoff highs -- to lead the Monarchs past the Detroit Shock, 95-71, last night in Game 1, breaking finals scoring records for a half and a game.

``Everybody is coming out there with a vengeance. I'm not really surprised with my team," Powell said. ``It's really special when everybody steps up their game."

The Monarchs' high-scoring trio had at least 11 points each to help Sacramento score a record 53 points in the first half, and lead by 15. They helped Sacramento close strong and break Detroit's record of 83 points against the Los Angeles Sparks in 2003.

Cheryl Ford led the Shock with 25 points, but Swin Cash was scoreless in 11 minutes and Ruth Riley scored just 2 points.

``I'm tickled to death," Sacramento coach John Whisenant said. ``We got home court back, and that was our goal.

Game 2 is tomorrow night before the best-of-five series shifts to Sacramento.

The Monarchs led, 53-38, at halftime -- surpassing Houston's record of 48 in the second half in a 1998 finals game.

``They seemed to want it more than we did," Laimbeer said.

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