Liberty Lack Defense and Execution in Loss to SkySeptember 8, 2012
Newark, NJ - "One game at a time" has been the New York Liberty's motto during this six-game homestand. Prior to hosting the Chicago Sky, the Liberty stood ahead of them in the standings by a half-game. In a pivotal matchup that could potentially determine who will make the playoffs, the Liberty fell behind early on and never recovered in an 92-83 loss to the Sky on Friday night.
“We just didn’t guard. We didn’t defend them,” head coach John Whisenant said. “Our white line defense was not there.”
A slow start on the offensive end put the Liberty behind by eight within the first two minutes of the game. The gap on the scoreboard did not last very long, as New York settled in shortly thereafter, cutting the margin to two at the midway point of the first quarter. Unfortunately, miscues at both ends of the floor late in the period put the Liberty behind by seven heading into the second frame.
Whisenant was charged with a technical foul shortly after the start to the second quarter, which could be termed as an inauspicious beginning to the period. It did not spark the Liberty in any way as they continued to struggle. Despite being afforded the advantage of Sylvia Fowles leaving the game after suffering a lower leg injury at the start of the quarter, the Liberty still could not find a way to score and saw the deficit balloon to double digits. Momentum suddenly swung in New York's favor during the final three minutes of the first half, resulting in an offensive surge that had the Liberty behind by five at the break.
A 3-pointer from the Sky's Swin Cash was not what the Liberty needed at the start of the second half. Again, the Liberty fell behind by double figures before rallying midway through the third quarter to pull within three on a Cappie Pondexter trey. The Liberty had looked to build off this burst of energy, but the Sky quickly responded and pushed the lead to double figures heading into the final frame.
Faced with the task of overcoming an 11 point deficit, the Liberty attempted to chip away one possession at a time. A three-point play from Essence Carson, followed by a free throw from Plenette Pierson put the Liberty to within seven. Another window of opportunity came when the Sky were over the limit in team fouls, putting New York in the bonus for the rest of the way but they were unable to get the line. Any effort at a late comeback was spoiled by Epiphanny Prince, who continued to score and led the Sky to victory.
Prince led all scorers with 30 points, five rebounds and four assists. Tamera Young added 19 points. Courtney Vandersloot contributed 12 points, while Cash netted 10 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists.
Pondexter finished with 24 points and four assists. Pierson contributed 15 points. Kara Braxton logged a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Carson netted 12 points.
“We were a step slow,” Pondexter said. “We fought hard. It was a tough game for us. We just need to stay positive. We have an ample amount of games left that we can win. The key is staying positive and not putting our heads down.”
The Liberty will look to keep their playoff hopes alive on Sunday, hosting the Los Angeles Sparks at 4PM.