Liberty Fall to Sparks

An apparent injury to Cappie Pondexter left New York without its All-Star, as the Liberty (7-13) fell to the Sparks (8-11) 68-54 Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Liberty avoided the slow start that has killed them time and again this season, finishing the first quarter with a three-point advantage over the Sparks. After Plenette Pierson replaced Avery Warley-Talbert with 6:11 to play in the period, New York was invigorated, picking up the tempo and gaining a little separation from Los Angeles. As the tempo increased, the ball movement did as well, resulting in seven Liberty assists on nine made field goals.

The strong play did not carry over into the second quarter, with both the offense and the defense struggling for New York. The Sparks used a 15-6 run through the heart of the quarter to jump out to a nine-point advantage. The run was aided by six Liberty turnovers, resulting in seven easy fast break points for Los Angeles. Carelessness with the basketball and 35.7 percent shooting from the floor sent the Liberty to the locker room trailing 42-33.

Thanks to the efforts of reigning Player of the Week Tina Charles, the Liberty were able to claw their way back to within two points in the third quarter. Charles scored six points during a New York 8-0 run, but a couple of late hoops for the Sparks gave Los Angeles a six-point edge heading to the final quarter.

With Pondexter sidelined for all but the first three minutes of the second half, Charles faced relentless double-teams each time she touched the basketball. Without a second option on the offensive end in the fourth quarter, Charles was effectively taken out of the game. New York was out-scored 12-4 in the final frame.

The Liberty were led by Charles, who scored 20 points with eight rebounds. Alex Montgomery added 10 points for New York. Pondexter did not score before leaving the game with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter. Making her Liberty debut, Swin Cash scored four points.

The Liberty take the court again this Wednesday against Atlanta at 11 a.m. at Madison Square Garden.