Liberty Calm Rolling StormJuly 1, 2012
Newark, NJ- A win is a win no matter how it happens and the New York Liberty (5-9) will take every victory they can get as they struggle to find their way out of the Eastern Conference cellar.
After losing four out of their last five games, the Liberty headed into Saturday’s matchup against the Seattle Storm (6-8) with five days of rest and time to correct mistakes they’ve made in previous games. It was clear the Liberty made good use of this short layoff, as they played with renewed energy and ended the Storm’s five game win streak in a 77-59 victory at the Prudential Center.
“Our defense was good,” Liberty head coach John Whisenant said. “We got 12 steals which is important for our defense because that gives us offensive opportunities in the open floor where you take advantage of the quickness of Cappie (Pondexter) and Essence (Carson) and trail shooters like Leilani (Mitchell) and Nicole (Powell). It was a nice win against a team that is on a roll.”
The Liberty started off sluggish and fell behind by six early on before they finally found their rhythm at both ends of the floor. Kia Vaughn’s driving layup gave the Liberty its first lead of the game and the Storm briefly tied the score with a little over a minute left in the first quarter. A pair of free throws put New York ahead 13-12 late in the period and the Liberty never looked back after that point.
A solid defensive effort by the Liberty put the Storm on their heels for most of the game, scoring 20 points off of Seattle’s 25 turnovers. The second quarter saw the Liberty stretch the margin to eight before Vaughn left the game after taking a hit to the head and reported to have suffered a concussion.
With Vaughn out, DeMya Walker and Kara Braxton stepped up their efforts in the post. Walker added 11 points in the game with six rebounds, while Braxton chipped in seven points and also grabbed six rebounds. Despite the loss of Vaughn, the Liberty maintained their lead throughout the second half and matched the Storm shot for shot in the third quarter. The only threat to the Liberty’s lead came at the end of the period when Sue Bird drained a three-pointer as the clock expired. Still, the Storm got no closer than eight before New York pushed the lead back to double figures for the remainder of the game.
Ann Wauters and Tina Thompson were the only Storm players to finish in double figures with 10 points apiece. Sue Bird was held to nine points on 3 of 11 shooting.
Carson led all scorers with a season-high 22 points. Pondexter was once again the do-everything player, adding 20 points, seven rebounds (season-high), four assists and three steals.
“The entire team played well,” Carson said. “It felt good to have a week off and let our legs rest, especially when we started out the season and we had a lot of games back-to-back. We never really had the right amount of time to get our legs underneath us and we were able to do that this week and correct some of our mistakes. This week really helped us.”
The Liberty will have a few days to rest and will return to action on Friday night on the road against the Chicago Sky.