Sun Sets on Liberty as Connecticut Edges New York
Although their record fell to 1-3, the Liberty saw their two first-round draft picks play their best games of their young careers, as Essence Carson scored 15 points and Erlana Larkins added 11.
Looking to avenge a 77-63 season-opening loss to the Sun, New York stormed out of the gate, racing out to a 9-2 lead in the opening minutes. From there, however, very little went right for the Liberty in the first half. They shot just 35 percent from the field, falling behind by as many as 17 points.
Meanwhile, Tamika Whitmore, who dominated the teams' first meeting at The Garden on May 18, led a smooth-running Sun offense, as she finished with a game-high 18 points. Still, a late run sparked by Larkins' six opening-half points cut the deficit to just eight, and lifted Liberty's spirits heading into halftime.
New York played some of its best basketball of the young season in the third quarter, sparked by Carson. The rookie from Rutgers made a strong move to the hoop and hit her first field goal attempt of the game, cutting the deficit to six. On the ensuing possession, she dove for the ball out of bounds while finding an open Larkins down low for the hoop. Carson then hit yet another hoop, and after the Sun made a basket of their own, hit a three-pointer to bring New York to within two points, 58-56.
That was as close as the Liberty would come, however, as the Sun finished the third quarter on an 11-5 run to stretch the lead restore their eight-point lead from halftime.
In the fourth quarter, last week's WNBA Player of the Week, Lindsay Whalen, took over for the Sun. The star guard, who finished the game with 15 points and seven assists, helped push her team's lead to 12 midway through the quarter. Although New York cut the lead to four points in the final minute of play, time simply ran out for them.
Friday night's game marked the Liberty's best offensive output of the season. All 11 players who dressed recorded at least one point, with five of them reaching double-digit scoring totals.
Carson led the way with 15 points, all scored in the second half, on 6-for-8 shooting. She hit two-of-three from downtown, and also chipped in with two boards, two assists and one steal.
Larkins, meanwhile, was a force down low, and her 11 points were a major reason why the Liberty outscored Connecticut 44-24 in the paint.
Cathrine Kraayeveld and Janel McCarville also had strong performances on Friday. Kraayeveld notched 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds, while McCarville netted ten along with three boards.
In the backcourt, Shameka Christon scored 12 points, and was a key down the stretch in the Liberty's final push, scoring half her points in the fourth quarter. Loree Moore, meanwhile, had yet another solid game running the point, scoring six points and six assists.
New York also improved on the boards from their May 18 game, even though Connecticut still had the advantage. Unlike their first meeting, when the Liberty was outmuscled on the glass by 17-rebound margin, New York pulled down just three less than their opponent, limiting their second-chance points.
The Liberty have one more chance to beat the Sun, when the teams square off at Mohegan Sun on July 15.
New York returns home on Tuesday to face Sue Bird, Sheryl Swoopes and the Seattle Storm.
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