Liberty Host Defending Champs, Indiana Fever

The Liberty host the defending champions, the Indiana Fever, Wednesday, June 5th, at 11:00 AM at the Prudential Center. The Liberty notched their first win of the season and first win of the Bill Laimbeer Era in their home opener last Friday with a 78-76 win over the Tulsa Shock in overtime. They rallied behind a team effort in which Kara Braxton offered an intense defensive effort against the 6’8 Liz Cambage, Essence Carson was relied upon for big shots down the stretch of regulation play, and Cappie Pondexter first shined in the role of facilitator and later in the role of hero when she hit the go-ahead basket with .5 seconds left in overtime. The Liberty shot an impressive 51% from the field, but nearly gave the game away by coughing up 24 turnovers and allowing 29 free throw attempts to the Shock (compared to 10 total visits to the charity stripe for the Liberty). All ten of the Liberty players that suited up for the game scored. Essence Carson led all scorers with 18 points to go along with 5 rebounds. Kara Braxton posted a well-rounded stat line of 12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals and two blocks. Cappie Pondexter added 13 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists to go along with hitting the game winning shot. Plenette Pierson returned to the court for her first game of the season after missing the season opener with a sprained knee.

The defending WNBA champions are coming off of an emotional championship ring ceremony, but a deflating 86-77 loss at home to the Atlanta Dream last Friday. Indiana relies heavily on their five starters; Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Briann January, Shavonte Zellous and Erlana Larkins all play over 30 minutes a game. While returning that core from last season, the rest of their team is either young or injured. Catchings is the All-WNBA superstar leading this team in scoring averaging nearly 20 points per game. She plays inside and out and is one of, if not the most, frustrating and intelligent defenders in the league. Playing Robin to Catchings’ Batman is Katie Douglas, a proven scorer and thief in passing lanes. She and guard Shavonte Zellous are shooting over 38% from three. January brings the fire starting with her pesky perimeter D, can contribute in scoring, but so far has been best finding her teammates with an average of 6 assists per game. Larkins adores any opportunity to bang and be physical inside. She will not back down for a rebound using her strength to make up for being undersized inside.

Keys To The Game:
Take Care of the Ball!
The Liberty are averaging 21 turnovers over the first two games of the season. Check this out: Against Tulsa the Liberty made 35 field goals while the Shock only made 22. The Liberty shot 51% from the field while Tulsa only shot 29%. Still, the Liberty only won by a single basket because they allowed Tulsa to stay in the game with turnovers and free throws.

Do Your Job on Defense.
Liberty defenders cannot allow their player to get by them. Once any member of the Indiana starting five causes Liberty defenders to have to help they are capable of penetrating to pitch or of causing foul trouble. Each Indiana player holds their defender accountable- some with their ability to score, others with their ability to pass or knock down a three or rebound- thus the ability to guard one-on-one will be key.

Where to watch: The game will be televised on MSG+ and is also available on WNBA Live Access.

Game Day Activities: Why the early start time? The Liberty will also host their annual “School Day” themed game. Students from both New York and New Jersey will take a field trip to the Prudential Center for a fun day of cheering on the Liberty! Keep in mind that each student will receive Liberty branded thundersticks, so, one way or another, it will be loud at the Rock!