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COMETS FEEL FORTUNATE TO SURVIVE

Having survived a near-collapse to reach Tuesday's decisive Game Three against the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Finals, the Houston Comets relish the fact that both teams' seasons are now on the line.

The Comets remain alive in the best-of-three series because they came back up from a 12-point deficit with seven minutes left Saturday, sent the game to overtime and won, 74-69. Phoenix had won the first game on its home court and was gunning for a sweep.

With the finals even at 1-1 and two full days to mend various bumps and bruises, the Comets say they're primed to defend the inaugural WNBA title.

Two-time league MVP Cynthia Cooper led the late charge and finished with 27 points despite frenzied double- and triple-team defenses.

For its part, the Mercury hasn't run up the white flag even though another hostile sellout crowd awaits it for the finale. Coach Cheryl Miller doesn't anticipate having to make many motivational speeches.

"There's no reason to try to keep this team up. It's the last game of the season, so I think that's enough motivation in itself," she said.

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