Christon, Kraayeveld led Liberty past Lynx, 80-67
By VIN A. CHERWOO, AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK(AP) The New York Liberty fell behind by 17 points in the first quarter of a key game for their playoff chances. Then they focused and got a much-needed win.

Shameka Christon scored 24 points, Cathrine Kraayeveld had a season-high 18 and the New York Liberty beat the struggling Minnesota Lynx 80-67 Sunday.

"The first quarter was bad but we stuck it out and fought to get back in the game,'' Christon said. "We got some big defensive stops along the way. ... It's getting toward the end of the season and we are trying to make a push. Every game is very important and we are trying to focus on the little things and do what we can to make ourselves better.''

Tiffany Jackson added 10 points for New York (11-16), which won for the fifth time in eight games to move two games behind Chicago and Washington for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We have played some good basketball,'' Liberty interim coach Anne Donovan said. "It hasn't always translated into wins. I think overall we are getting better and we are getting to the point that we would be a very good playoff team if we get ourselves into that position.''

Nicky Anosike scored 18 points and Charde Houston had 15 for the Lynx (11-16), who lost their sixth straight and ninth in their last 10. Minnesota, coming off a four-point loss at Connecticut the previous night, shot 11 for 20 in the first quarter, but then made just 12 of 48 the rest of the way.

Anosike had 16 points on 5 for 9 shooting in the first half, but was just 1 for 3 after the break as the Liberty focused on stopping her in the second half.

"They threw a lot of double-teams on her,'' Lynx coach Jennifer Gillom said. "She kicked the ball back out like she was supposed to do, and hit the open man. The ball just wasn't going in. I tried to tell them when the shot's not going in from the outside, you have to penetrate and get to the basket. But evidently I don't know if we felt the penetration wasn't there, and we kept shooting those jumpers that weren't going in.''

Liberty center Janel McCarville, who made the winning basket in overtime of New York's win against Connecticut on Friday night, aggravated a left ankle injury she sustained at Washington last weekend and did not play in the second half. She finished with four points and two rebounds in about seven minutes.

Seldom-used reserve forward Erlana Larkins got extended playing time in McCarville's absence and tied a season high with six points and had three rebounds in nearly 11 1/2 minutes.

The Liberty got into trouble by missing five of their first seven shots, but the Lynx helped New York get back in it by scoring just nine points in the second quarter on 2 for 14 shooting.

The Liberty used a 9-0 run spanning halftime to take a 40-39 lead - their first of the game - on Christon's layup 1:12 into the third quarter.

Houston's 3 gave Minnesota it's last lead of the game, at 44-43 with 6:04 left in the third.

The Liberty then went on another 9-0 run, and Minnesota finally broke the drought with 1:55 left in the quarter.

In the fourth, New York surged ahead before Houston had consecutive baskets to pull Minnesota to 74-67 with 4:06 left, but the Lynx didn't score again.

Anosike wasn't sure if fatigue factored into the struggles for Minnesota, which finished 0-4 on its nine-day road trip that begin in Chicago last weekend and took the Lynx to Los Angeles earlier in the week.

"Maybe, but you get tired in games. That's what happens,'' the Lynx's second-year center said. "You just have to settle down and execute. I think that's something we struggled with, holding our composure and really trying to settle down when things get rough.''

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