Liberty Give Maddie a Win for Her Birthday
It was a return to business at Madison Square Garden this past Sunday afternoon. The New York Liberty were matched against their conference rival, the Connecticut Sun. The team celebrated their mascot Maddie’s birthday, but afterwards displayed the old defensive grit and they needed it as they nearly gave this one away. But, the Liberty held on for a 67-65 win.
Tina Charles and Cappie Pondexter tied for the high score honors with 14 apiece, but it was a total team effort overall. Laimbeer reminded his team of two things after the game. “I wrote on the board after the game, one was that we have to play smarter. The second was that we have to value two points,” Laimbeer shared.
The fourth quarter saw the Liberty give an example of how easy it has been for them to waste great amounts of effort only to nearly get clipped in the end. The Liberty (5-11) survived a last second shot and Cruz hit one of two free throws to clinch.
The Liberty had to absorb another hot solo performance. This time it was forward Chiney Ogwumike who seemed everywhere on the court with 22 points and 17 rebounds. She got help from guard Alex Bentley, who had 18 and former New York teammate Kelsey Bone, who added 13 and eight boards. Plenette Pierson, who has provided solid play fom the bench with 12 sorely needed points, recognized how tough the Sun (8-8) are. “To win against a team that has been going on a hot streak is very important for us and it can really help us down the stretch when we’re trying to make the playoffs.”
The Liberty came out strong recognizing how first halves have been the death of them but they still were down five at the half, yet the low score was more Liberty style. A 19-11 second quarter gave New York a rare halftime lead of 34-31 as Cappie, Alex Montgomery, and Pierson all had six. Sugar off the bench had five and three rebounds. This was in direct response to criticisms about opening games. “Today we were able to recoup after the first quarter and have a lead at the half.” Laimbeer explained. “We do play very hard and very well in the second half. We play great defense in the second half traditionally, but our first halves have been our downfall.”
A great change of pace was the blocked shot. Even Liberty guards Cappie Pondexter and Sugar Rodgers got key blocks. The determination of their guards showed as Cappie and Ana Cruz made excellent plays off the dribble and as they fought they gained a four point edge and went into the final quarter up 54-47.
“We had alot of fresh energy, everyone was pretty much focused on getting a win from the beginning to the end.” Cappie explained.
The fourth saw Connecticut make a 13-3 run that brought it all the way down to two when Chiney took a miss and put it back to make it 66-65 with just under a minute remaining but Chiney made her only mistake by bounce passing to the post to no one. Two more defensive efforts and New York was victorious. Center Tina Charles, who missed alot of shots but still ends up with the numbers at the end, finally got Bone’s attention with a blocked shot in the second quarter while off balance and a key fourth quarter drive and layup which pointed the way to victory. “Knowing that we had to get a win, every game is really important to us regardless if we were coming in 11-4 or 4-11 as we were.” Tina exclaimed. “Every game is really important to us right now.”
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