By Dan Savage

July 25, 2008: Scoreboard | Video Play of the Day | Today in the WNBA Archive

The Liberty celebrate their thrilling triumph over the Sparks.
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images
McCarville's Game-Winner Lifts Liberty

Star center continues illustrious regular-season campaign: The Liberty have accomplished a lot this season. They started off as a long shot to make the playoffs and now find themselves in the thick of the East’s postseason pack. And when the regular season ends, in all likelihood they could be the favorites to represent their conference in The Finals. A big reason for their monumental turnaround has been the continued development of last season’s Most Improved Player Janel McCarville. Once considered unworthy of her No. 1 overall selection in the 2005 WNBA Draft, McCarville has started to take the league by storm. She’s currently averaging career bests in points, rebounds, assists and blocks, while also coming up clutch for New York night in and night out. She continued to add to her sensational 2008 campaign Friday as she fired off a team-best 15 points, including the game-winning layup with 6.4 seconds left to lift the Liberty over the Sparks. She came up big on the defensive end as well, forcing Lisa Leslie to take a tough shot as time expired. With Cheryl Ford now out for the season, New York could have the best inside presence in the East, which will pay huge dividends come September.

Mercury Able to Withstand the Storm: It looked as if the Mercury had the Storm’s number, following their sweep of Seattle in the 2007 playoffs. But when the Storm opened up the season series up 3-0 over their familiar foes, Phoenix started to wonder if it could ever get the best of Seattle again. Turns out taking reigning MVP Lauren Jackson out of the lineup does wonders for the Mercury’s chances. With out their All-Star center, Seattle was unable to stop Diana Taurasi from slashing through the lane as she racked up a game-high 31 points in the Mercury’s 94-80 victory on Friday. Although Phoenix led by 20 points in the second quarter, Seattle rallied back to tie the contest, only to have the Mercury answer with a 10-2 third-quarter run. Taurasi scored seven points in the final quarter to seal the deal.
"We didn't do a good job of sticking mentally tough and we made a lot of mental mistakes. We didn't play through fatigue and they did. ... They outplayed us tonight.''

-- Silver Stars forward Sophia Young on her team's lack of mental toughness in their road loss to the Lynx on Friday.

Janel McCarville, Liberty
15 pts, 6-10 FG, 3-3 FT
69-68 win vs. Sparks

Diana Taurasi, Mercury
31 pts, 9-17 FG, 3-6 3-pt FG, 10-11 FT
94-80 win vs. Storm

Lindsey Harding, Lynx
13 pts, 4-6 FG, 1-2 3-pt FG, 4-4 FT
78-68 win vs. Silver Stars

Betty Lennox, Dream
1-6 FG, 0-3 3-pt FG, 2 pts
81-75 loss vs. Mystics

Lisa Willis, Liberty
1-8 FG, 1-6 3-pt FG, 8 pts
69-68 win vs. Sparks

Alana Beard, Mystics
4-15 FG, 1-7 3-pt FG, 12 pts
81-75 win at Dream

Saturday's Games ...

  • Chicago at Houston, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Indiana at Sacramento, 10 p.m. ET
  • Thompson

    After missing the first 10 games of the season with stress fracture in her foot, Lindsey Harding had a tough time bouncing back. Although the Lynx were willing to hand over the keys to the starting point guard spot once she regained her form, it took over a month for that move to go down. But now that’s she’s back in her familiar role, she is putting up her best numbers of the season and has the Lynx playing at peak efficiency. Following a season-high 12-point performance in Thursday’s win over the Fever – her starting debut – Harding scored 13 against the Silver Stars to give Minnesota its second straight win. Now the only thing Lynx fans are wondering, is why couldn’t she have recovered sooner?
    It’s always tough to see a legendary leader like Tree Rollins let go, but it may have been the right move at the right time for the Mystics. Since removing Rollins, Washington has won two of its past three games under the interim leadership of coach Jessie Kenlaw, its most recent victory coming against the Dream on Friday. The new coach, who said she preaches “defense and discipline,” oversaw a Mystics squad that held Atlanta without a field goal over the final 3:46. Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who hasn’t been shy about her admiration for Kenlaw’s energy and motivation, led a balanced attack with 13 points and 12 rebounds.