Shock Remain Unbeaten; Hand Liberty First Loss
By VIN A. CHERWOO, AP Sports Writer

Detroit 67, New York 57

NEW YORK, June 8 (AP) -- The Detroit Shock showed the improved New York Liberty just how much better the defending champions still are.

Deanna Nolan scored 17 points and Swin Cash added 14 to lead the Shock to a 67-57 victory over the Liberty on Friday night.

"It was definitely a statement game,'' Cash said. "Obviously with two unbeatens, only one can survive after tonight and we wanted to be in that role. We came in here with a little chip on our shoulder.''

Plenette Pierson had 13 points and Cheryl Ford added 11 points and 11 rebounds to help Detroit improve to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.

"We know we are the show in the league right now,'' Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "Teams want to play us, fans want to see us play, for good or bad.''

The Shock won the league's second-ever matchup between unbeaten teams with at least three wins, with both coming this week. New York handed Indiana its first loss on Tuesday after each team opened 4-0.

"We are the best team,'' Nolan said, "and we can only beat ourselves.''

Shameka Christon had 18 points and Cathrine Kraayeveld scored 13 for the Liberty (5-1). New York, which led the league in shooting at 47 percent, made just 32 percent (21-for-65) against the Shock. The Liberty came in shooting a league-best 52 percent from 3-point range, but were just 6-for-20 (30 percent).

"When your shots are not falling down, we need to attack more inside,'' Christon said. "However, we need to be stronger and not back down to their physical ability. ... Detroit is a very good team. They've won two championships. I think as a team, collectively, we weren't ready.''

Detroit shot 43 percent from the field and made 14 of 17 free throws. The Shock also had 11 blocks, four by Pierson and two each by Ford and Kara Braxton.

Liberty point guard Loree Moore struggled from the start, picking up two fouls and committing three turnovers in the first quarter. She committed two more turnovers and sat after getting her third foul with 6:25 left in second quarter, finishing the half without attempting a shot in 9 minutes, 16 seconds.

"I think it hurt us big time,'' New York coach Pat Coyle said. "We lost a lot of our aggressiveness when she went to the bench.''

Nolan and Ford hit consecutive jumpers to stretch the lead to 39-29 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the third. The Liberty used a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to five, but that was as close as they got.

"I would credit their defense,'' Coyle said. "They did a good job of getting us out of our offense. But a lot of that was on us also.''

Pierson's layup pushed the Shock's lead back to 10 with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the quarter, and they led by as many as 16 points in the fourth.

Detroit, one of the biggest and most physical teams in the league, had their way with the Liberty inside. New York was repeatedly stopped while trying to make moves toward the basket down low.

"We let them dictate what kind of game was played,'' the Liberty's Barbara Farris said. "Every time we got into the lane, we let their physical ability disrupt our style and what made us successful in the first five games.''

Detroit started slow and committed seven turnovers in the first quarter and then had seven the rest of the way.

"When you turn the ball over against a team like this, they use it to their best advantage,'' Pierson said. "We had to limit our turnovers and go at them and get them in foul trouble.''

Detroit, which has won eight of the last 10 regular-season meetings against New York, took control in the second quarter and led 33-27 at halftime. The Shock outscored the Liberty 21-8 while holding them to 3-for-15 shooting. New York had just one field goal and four points over the first 8:44 of the period.