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Silver Stars halt slide as Becky Hammon hits milestone; Sun clinch berth

SAN ANTONIO -- Becky Hammon moved into the WNBA record books and put an end to the San Antonio Silver Stars' skid.

Hammon scored 16 points to lead the Silver Stars past the Connecticut Sun 78-66 on Tuesday night to end a six-game losing streak. She became the seventh player in WNBA history to score 5,000 career points when she hit a free throw with 2:23 remaining in the second quarter. Hammon now has 5,008 points.

Connecticut (18-12) lost its second straight game, but still earned its first playoff berth since 2008 thanks to Chicago's loss to New York.

"The win," Hammon said when asked which was bigger, the victory or her 5,000th point. "The win is a huge monkey off our back."

The Silver Stars swept the season series against the Sun.

Sophia Young and Jia Perkins each scored 15 points for the Silver Stars (14-15), who increased their lead to two games over Los Angeles for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Tina Charles scored 16 points and Asjha Jones had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Connecticut.

San Antonio has won only three of the last 13 games, but held the Sun to 25 of 64 shooting. San Antonio outrebounded Connecticut 38-33.

The Sun pulled within eight points with 35.3 seconds left on Charles' layup, but Hammon hit four straight free throws to put the game out of reach.

"I think what she's achieving is utterly amazing to me," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "People don't understand how hard Becky Hammon has worked at the game since she came into the league."

The Silver Stars hit 15 of 29 shots from the field in the second half, taking their biggest lead at 53-34 on Young's jumper in the lane with 4:34 left in the third quarter. San Antonio hit 9 of 15 shots in the quarter while holding Connecticut to 5 of 16.

Although the Sun made the playoffs, coach Mike Thibault wasn't happy with the way they made it.

"It doesn't feel real good," Thibault said. "You'd rather win to get in. I don't like backing in. We knew we were going to get in eventually, but it's not a fun way to have it happen."

Neither team shot well in the first half, with the Silver Stars going 14 of 38 and the Sun hitting 10 of 32. But San Antonio was able to finish the half on a 9-2 run to take a 38-28 lead.

The Silver Stars held the Sun to 4 of 17 shooting to take a 21-14 lead after the first quarter. Ruth Riley scored five straight points and Hammon followed with a 3-pointer to help the Silver Stars go ahead 8-0.

Thibault received a technical foul in the quarter for running out to halfcourt to argue with the referees.

Hammon's 3-point play in the second quarter, with the free throw giving her the 5,000th point, put the Silver Stars up 32-26. Kalana Greene followed with a layup for Connecticut, but Robinson and Perkins combined for six straight points to close the half.