Pondexter, Liberty Net First Home Win

Cappie Pondexter didn’t think the Sparks would make that pass.

It was a pass that fell into her lap and as she finished the layup to cap off eight straight points in 39 seconds ending the first half, she was mobbed at half court surrounded by her ecstatic teammates and the sound of the crowd, which had been energized by an out of this world sequence.

“After she threw it, I thought ‘I’m getting this’,” Pondexter said with a smile. “I had to. It was right to my face. If I’m aggressive like that, it not only helps myself but the team as well.”

Pondexter finished the game with a team-high 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Liberty defeated the Los Angeles Sparks for their first victory in the Prudential Center, 77-67, on Sunday night. It was one of the team’s best defensive efforts of the season, causing the Sparks to turn the ball over 21 times, while also holding to them to 67 points, the lowest point total for a Liberty opponent.

The Libs started off slow at the beginning of the game, as Candace Parker’s strong play led the Sparks to a quick 19-10 lead. But the Liberty continued to fight, turned up the defense and never again relinquised the lead after Pondexter’s All-Star worthy performance.

“We’d like to have that every game,” head coach John Whisenant said. “That was probably the big key in the game.”

The Libs went on to build off of its halftime lead, going on an 18-0 run that the two halves, pushing them to a 14 point lead. Essence Carson continued her strong play as well, scoring 18 points off the bench while Plenette Pierson adding 14.

As the Liberty continue to become more comfortable with Whisenant’s schemes, the defensive intensity has increased. It is something that Leilani Mitchell said was one of the keys to the victory tonight over the Sparks, who defeated the Liberty last Tuesday night.

“We’re really pressuring the ball more and making sure we are in the right position,” she said. “We are just learning where he wants us to be in relation to the ball and to each other. That’s really been the biggest difference.”

Parker led the Sparks with a 16 points and 11 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season. Her night ended prematurely though, as she left the game six minutes remaining in the third quarter with an injury to her right knee.

As the game was coming to an end, the Sparks fought back, cutting the lead to eight with less than two minutes to go.

“They made runs and they made big shots but we didn’t let ourselves get down,” Pierson said. “We’re finally coming together as a team in this system and this new defense. We’re understanding where we need to be and how we need to play for 40 minutes. I think everybody is really falling into their roles now.”

The team takes its two game win streak on the road on Thursday, June 30, to face the Atlanta Dream.