By Bethany Sorensen
With four regular season games to go, the Utah Starzz are already looking ahead to the playoffs.
In order to get to the playoffs, Utah could have used a win in their last two match-ups against Sacramento and Los Angeles.
The Starzz traveled to Sacramento on Aug. 1, to play the Monarchs, but Utah could not pull off the victory.
Before the game, Utah guard Marie Ferdinand said the Starzz needed to be cautious against Sacramento.
“Right now they have all their players back including Yolanda (Griffith) and Ticha (Penicheiro),” she said. “So they”re playing with a lot of confidence right now and we have to know that coming in and not fall behind early and be prepared early in the game to try and come up with a win.”
Utah fell behind by 13 points at the half, but brought the score within two points on a 12-2 run.
The Starzz could not hold on and lost 80-71.
Center Margo Dydek tied her career high with 27 points and added 11 rebounds.
Sacramento was more balanced as guard Ruthie Bolton scored 20 points and forwards Tangela Smith and Yolanda Griffith each added 19 points.
Following the loss to the Monarchs, Utah journeyed south for the faceoff with the Los Angeles Sparks Aug. 4.
Before the game, guard Jennifer Azzi said the team”s 1-9 all-time record at L.A. was not going to discourage Utah.
“Anybody can beat anybody in this game,” she said. “L.A. is great, but anything can happen.”
The Starzz made a valiant effort, but could not force the win.
Utah had a rough start, trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half, but led by Ferdinand, the Starzz rallied for a three-point lead in the second half.
However, the Starzz buckled under pressure from Sparks center Lisa Leslie, who scored L.A.”s final five points for the 90-86 win.
After the two losses, a playoff spot began to look grim for Utah.
However, luck was shining on the Starzz. The Seattle Storm lost to the Minnesota Lynx on Aug. 4, allowing third-place Utah to clinch a playoff berth.
The Storm trail fourth-place Portland by one game for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Fire will try to finalize their playoff spot as they travel to Utah for the August 5 game at 8 p.m. in the Delta Center.