NEW YORK, August 2, 2007 (AP) -- After several close defeats, the New York Liberty kept their poise down the stretch and ended their longest losing streak of the season.
Erin Thorn made three free throws in the final 16.3 seconds to help the Liberty beat the Minnesota Lynx 71-66 Thursday night and snap a seven-game skid. New York's previous six losses were by an average of 4.8 points.
"We closed out the game tonight,'' the Liberty's Ashley Battle said. "In past games, we have been right there ... but we didn't close it out, get big defensive stops or make big shots when we needed to. Today, we hit big shots, made our free throws and got a big steal at the end of the game.''
"You have to be able to win the ugly ones,'' Thorn said. "It's always a big confidence builder when you can get over that hump. We felt we've been so close lately. Now, we finally got one.''
Minnesota trailed by 17 late in the third quarter before scoring 12 consecutive points to pull to 55-50 on Shay Murphy's free throw with 6:05 left in the game. Kraayeveld then sank a jumper, and Thorn had a layup to push the Liberty's lead to nine with 5:15 to go.
Murphy and Augustus hit two free throws apiece in a 17-second span to make it 66-61 with 41.2 seconds left.
After McCarville made two free throws for New York 1 second later, Kristen Mann sank a jumper to pull Minnesota within five with 29.8 seconds left. Noelle Quinn stole Thorn's cross-court pass on the Liberty's ensuing possession and Mann hit a 3 to cut the deficit to two points with 19.5 seconds left.
"People are going to make a run at you,'' Liberty coach Pat Coyle said. "You have to withstand the run, keep your wits about you, and continue to do the things that got you the lead.''
Thorn made one free throw 3 seconds later, and stole the ball when Mann tried to save it from going out of bounds. Thorn was fouled and sank two free throws with 6 seconds left to seal the game and snap the Liberty's longest skid since a franchise-worst, 11-game losing streak last season.
"I knew the free throw was going long, so I was doing everything that I could to get to the ball,'' Thorn said. "I just got lucky. I was at the right place at the right time.''
New York scored the first six points of the third quarter, taking a 43-25 lead - its biggest advantage of the game - on Kraayeveld's jumper with 8:34 left in the period.
"We knew that New York was going to come out fighting,'' Lynx coach Don Zierden said. "Their backs were to the wall and they needed this win to stay in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately, we did not respond. We let New York dictate whatever they wanted to right from the opening tip.''
Nicole Ohlde scored five straight points on a three-point play and a layup to pull Minnesota to 45-34 with 5:46 to go.
The Liberty had an 8-2 run, capped by two free throws by Lisa Willis, to stretch their lead to 55-38 with 1:54 left in the third.
The Lynx scored eight straight points, capped by Abrosimova's layup, to pull within six with 5:42 left in the half. However, the Liberty scored the final six points to lead 37-25 at halftime.