Liberty Fall Short Again to Chicago
The New York Liberty played the Chicago Sky on PRIDE Day, and that’s what tonight was about. Looking for their first back to back wins this season, the Liberty had to like their chances with Elena Delle Donne out due to sickness. However, all it did was ignite Epiphanny Prince whose shooting helped lead the Chicago Sky to a 73-69 win, their ninth straight over the Liberty. This was a game of missed opportunities, poor foul shooting, and one half of intense play. Frustration was the smell in the post conference air. “We’re tired of losing to Chicago. We’re frustrated and getting angry now.” Bill Laimbeer, intense, explained. “We can’t seem to put together two halves or get all our players playing reasonably good on the same night.”
The Sky rode the hot shooting of Prince early as they raced out to a 25-16 lead after one quarter. The Liberty were pushed and pressured out of their offense and great opportunities to finish off plays eluded them throughout. “I think we played well, we punched first and we were focused on defense.” Prince said. “I think we executed the game plan and its defensive schemes; it worked in our favor.” The second quarter would show more of the same and only the scrappy play and scoring of Sugar Rodgers (12 points, 2 boards) and Avery Warley-Talbert tough play kept them within shouting distance.”We just have to get back into the game tomorrow. (Connecticut)” Sugar said. “We can hang our heads, but what’s the point.” But with the Sky shooting 62 percent and their guards, Prince, Quigley (11 pts) and Vandersloo taking advantage of slow switches by the Liberty , they had the run of the perimeter and inside did what they wanted enroute to a 50-37 halftime lead.
New York started the second half with a 9-2 run that highlighted a tougher committment to defense and an Alex three closed the deficit to 52-46 with 8:13 left. This marked the third straight double digit game for Montgomery (11 pts, 5 reb.), the second time in her career. Prince, now with scoring help from Quigley and Tamera Young (13 pts) regained most of the lost ground. Plenette Pierson was inserted for more minutes as the game went on and her breakaway steal and layup closed the third with the Liberty down 61-54 and the feeling they could have done more.
The biggest concern was Cappie Pondexter who though distributing well was scoreless. But the Liberty made another run late in the quarter but Prince, who finished with 30 points and 5 assists , would hold New York off. “She is a phenomenal player. She was in the rhythm early and has been ever since she rejoined us.” Sky coach Pokey Chapman said. The Liberty were determined and kept banging away. Cruz scored twice to close the Liberty to within two. And magic appeared as Cappie found Pierson, and later on with less than a minute remaining Plenette posted deep into the box snd suddenly caught Tina Charles (16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) under the basket for layup and it was a two point affair once again.
Fast forward to Crunch time and 28 seconds left Pierson found space and drove for tying basket but suddenly the soaring shadow of Sylvia Fowles long arms came out of the sky and blocked it violently out of bounds and seemed to cement it. But there was time for one more shot and Cappie on left side of key dribbled then suddenly went for a rushed three. It flew over the basket and the realization set in that another late effort would go for naught. Tina shared why things have not been consistent. “It wasn’t anything they were doing, its what we were doing to ourselves-not staying consistent defensively, just letting teams come back in; that seems to be our thing right now.”