Liberty Catch-ing Fever as Indiana Wins
Added by Luis Vazquez on September 3, 2013.
Plenette Pierson posts up Tamika Catchings. (Photo Credit: Marlene Amaya-VAzquez)
The game started in the worst possible fashion here at the Prudential Center. Bad decisions and horrid passing killed the Kamiko Williams at forward experiment. She did not see any more action after a brief cameo in the opening moments of the first as the Liberty fell behind Indiana (13-15) 14-0. The benching of Toni Young necessitated this move and shortened the roster further. The Liberty would have been blown out as Zellous and Christmas had the home team down 23-7 late in the first but the Liberty knew the importance of this game and through free throw shooting, Delisha Milton-Jones three from the key and Alex Montgomery early charge (9 PTS) kept them in range down 27-14 at quarters end. Cappie Pondexter was now favoring the heel noticeably.
The Liberty (11-18) chopped away with increased intensity on defense and put together a run when down thirteen, Plenette Pierson hit a jumper followed by Katie Smith three from the corner that made it 29-21. The highlight of the push came when Leilani Mitchell who misplayed a pass and chasing it to the half line had only two seconds on the shot clock shot when she heaved a deep three that swished the nets to make it 29-24 bringing the 6,000 plus fans to life. A pretty pass from Cappie to a cutting Pierson for a layup got New York to within three. Montgomery who pushed the ball well scored on a drive and later her jumper got the Libs within one.
The third quarter was about Kelsey Bone. Only having had three points entering the quarter the liberty started feeding her over and over. And she started racking up fouls and scores. Layups and three point plays worth eleven points (13 in total) worth that at the end of her run put New York up 54-52 at the end of three. But the effort to overcome mistakes continues to take its toll. “We keep digging ourselves these weird holes,” Bone said. `”Same result in a loss, but we’re fighting, we didn’t just lay down. Now we’ve got to figure out a way to come out strong.”
But with opportunity in the air, Tamika Catchings (22 points) hit a three which took the wind out for a moment. In the fourth the fortunes of two teams fighting for the remaining playoff spot with precious few games remaining ensued. Shavonte Zellous, who finished with 21 points, led a spurt that put Laimbeer’s team on the brink again. “We knew this was going to be a game,” Zellous said. “New York is fighting for a playoff spot, we’re fighting for a playoff spot. We knew this game was going to be a game of runs. Towards the end we just locked in defensively and got stops when we needed it and scored when we needed to.”
But for a moment when Plenette hit another jumper starting a final desperate charge, it seemed possible that New York may just pull this out. A Mitchell three made it a three point game. Then for a two minute stretch every Indiana score was matched by Kara Braxton who hit two free throws, a turnaround jumper, and then a layup to keep the Liberty at one behind. With 2:32 left Katie Smith hit a jumper to slice it to one, but as the Liberty missed baskets, Erlana Larkins and Zellous found holes and with the Fever up 69-67, Plenette missed a short hook that went in and out and Cappie finally tried her damnest to win it by taking her defender in post then missing a layup that appeared to be a foul then taking a one-on-one and lifting a fadeway jumper that missed.
Down 71-67, Cappie took a three that got stuck between the backboard and net. After losing the tip-off, time ran out. A surreal feeling took over as it was one of those games that looked within reach all the way until the end when New York woke up and realized the nightmare scenario ahead. Indiana’s Tamika Catchings summarized it well. `”Definitely a game of highs and lows,” Catchings said, “We started off really well and then going into the second quarter we kind of hit a lull. Third quarter was a battle back and forth … they ended up taking the lead for a little bit. Then the fourth quarter we did a really good job of continuing to just execute, doing down the stretch what we needed to get done.” Next stop for New York is Tulsa and a two and half game deficit with five to play.