No such luck.
Just one night later, his team reverted to old form in New York. Leading the Liberty by eight at halftime, the Shock built an 18-point lead in the third quarter, and then watched it rapidly disintegrate in a 74-64 defeat.
While the two-time conference champs are often derided for “playing down” to their opponent, Detroit’s promising start and 19 turnovers (New York had 12) suggest the fatigue from playing and traveling the night before had plenty to do with the stunning defeat.
The Shock (14-7) appeared to be on the fast track to win No. 15 when they rolled off the first seven points after halftime, leading to a timeout by Liberty coach Pat Coyle. Moments later the Shock lead peaked at 51-33. Then everything unraveled.
The Liberty (10-9) scored 14 unanswered points to make it a contest. The Shock appeared to regain some control in the last minute of the third, when Kara Braxton’s block led to a 3-pointer from Alexis Hornbuckle, ending Detroit’s six-minute field-goal drought. Katie Smith added another triple, and Detroit went into the fourth quarter scared but ahead, 57-51.
The Liberty kept coming, and took their first lead since 3-2 when Loree Moore’s triple made it 60-59 with five minutes to play.
"They are going to be that dirty type of team and push you around, throw some elbows, and try to be the bully,” Moore said of the Shock. “Every time we play them, we always seem to stand up. We come out shaky in the beginning, but we always seem to stand up when we need to."
Detroit once again seemed to have the answer when Plenette Pierson scored five straight points – her first since early in the second quarter – to give Detroit a 64-60 lead. But the Shock didn’t score again, and New York went on a game-ending 14-0 run, sewing up the second-largest comeback in Liberty history.
" Detroit is a great defensive team,” Coyle said. “They made us take a lot of tough shots, but we expected it. That's when scouting comes in and we still have to run our plays. In the second half, we did a much better job executing our plays and continued running."
Pierson and Smith led Detroit with 13 apiece, while Tasha Humphrey and Cheryl Ford each scored 11. Ford also hauled in 11 rebounds, five offensive.
Detroit’s frontcourt dominated the first-half action. Leading 21-20 after the first, the Shock went on a 9-0 run to open the second. Ford contributed two baskets to that run as well as their last of the quarter to make it 40-32 at halftime.
Detroit did not play a flawless first half, but any sins were washed away with a 24-12 rebounding advantage, including eight offensive boards. Pierson had eight points while Ford and Humphrey each had seven at the break. The three forwards shot 70 percent in the first half (7-of-12).
Though they maintain a half-game lead for first place in the Eastern Conference, the Shock drop to 5-7 on the road. Three of those losses have come on the second night of a back-to-back, including Saturday’s.
The Shock put their 9-0 home mark on the line Wednesday when they host the Chicago Sky at noon.