Pierson Scores 25 to Lead Shock Past Liberty

Shock 72, Liberty 62 (F)
Check out highlights of Detroit's win over New York, keyed by solid guard play from Alexis Hornbuckle.
Detroit 72, New York 62

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 25 (AP) - Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer was worried that his Shock weren't ready for the start of the season.

One of his All-Stars - Swin Cash - had been traded to Seattle and two others - Cheryl Ford (knee) and Deanna Nolan (ankle) - started the year at less than 100 percent.

Sunday, though, the Shock beat the New York Liberty 72-62 to improve to 4-1.

"I told our staff that I was afraid we'd start 2-10 with the new players and the injuries,'' Laimbeer said. "It feels very good to be 4-1.''

Ford had microfracture surgery in September and only started practicing a week before the opener, while Nolan came to training camp after spraining her ankle in Russia. Both players have been in the lineup, but they are happy to be getting a lot of help from their teammates.

"Right now, everything hurts,'' said Nolan, who scored 14 points two days after hyperextending her elbow in a win at Atlanta. "It's huge that we are 4-1 with everything going on.''

Laimbeer decided before the opener to keep bringing last year's Sixth Woman of the Year, Plenette Pierson, off the bench despite the problems in the starting lineup. Sunday, Pierson had 25 points, and she leads the team with a 17.0 scoring average.

"Right now, we're trying to play hard and bide our time until Cheryl and Deanna get back,'' she said. "

Detroit improved to 3-0 at home despite only having one starter reach double figures. Kara Braxton added 11 off the bench.

Lisa Willis led New York with 12 points, but starters Loree Moore, Erin Thorn and Janel McCarville combined for only two on 1-of-12 shooting.

"They put me in to shoot the ball,'' Willis said. "I've got to think shoot first and be aggressive.''

New York missed 18 of its first 20 shots, and committed nine turnovers as the Shock built a 23-6 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Liberty rallied to pull within 29-19 at the half, but another prolonged scoring drought to start the second half restored the Shock's big lead. New York missed its first 10 shots of the period, allowing Detroit to go up 41-19.

"We got off to such a slow start, and I'm not really sure why,'' New York coach Pat Coyle said. "When you get down like that, you have to make threes to get back in it, and we didn't.''

The score was 54-29 at period's end, with Detroit outshooting New York 63 percent to 17 percent in the quarter.

The Liberty, though, started the fourth with a 23-4 run to pull within 58-52 with 5:17 left. Pierson, though, had a basket and an assist on the next two possessions, and the Shock held on to win.

"We always make things hard on ourselves,'' Pierson said. "I guess it gets us ready for the playoffs.''

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