Silver Stars Fall to Liberty
1 2 3 4 F San Antonio Silver Stars (7-2) 20 14 19 22 75 New York Liberty (4-5) 24 15 13 29 81
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Playing on back-to-back nights, New York Liberty coach John Whisenant decided to limit Plenette Pierson's minutes to keep her fresh at the end.
The strategy paid off.
Cappie Pondexter had 19 points, Pierson scored 10 of her 14 in the final 4:08 and the Liberty beat the San Antonio Silver Stars 81-75 Friday night.
"I'm a veteran in this league. I've been there, done that many times before," Pierson said. "It's not how you play the entire game, it's how you finish. I knew in order to help my team get a win I had to come in there and probably play big minutes and make good baskets. My teammates found me in great positions."
Nicole Powell added 13 points to help New York (5-5) get its third win in four games, and second straight at Prudential Center—the team's home for the next three seasons while Madison Square Garden undergoes renovations during the summers.
Pierson, who came in averaging 12.0 points and 30.3 minutes per game, shot 4 for 5 from the field and 6 for 6 from the line in 18 minutes.
"Plenette is the one post player we have that is experienced, but not as a starter," Whisenant said. "She's experienced off the bench as a Sixth Woman of the Year twice with Detroit. .. She plays well fresh. One of the things I've done to her playing her minutes is she gets fatigued. … So I tried to rest her tonight and save her for that last four or five minutes."
Powell and Pierson made two free throws apiece to give New York a 75-71 lead with under 3 minutes to go. Young made two baskets 23 seconds apart, but Pierson mixed in two free throws and a layup to keep the Liberty ahead by four.
Pierson then had a fastbreak layup with 10.5 seconds left to seal the win.
Danielle Adams scored 19 points to lead San Antonio (7-2), which lost for the first time in five road games. Becky Hammon and Sophia Young added 16 points each for the Silver Stars.
"We just didn't make enough plays down the stretch," San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. "But give the Liberty credit. I thought Pondexter and Pierson in the second half made some very key plays."
San Antonio shot 34 percent from the field (26 for 76), including 7 for 30 from 3-point range.
"We didn't play particularly well," Hammon said. "We didn't execute our defensive game plan the way we wanted to and we didn't shoot the ball well. It's hard to win when you shoot 35 percent, you're not going to win many games home or away shooting that kind of percentage."
Pondexter made a jumper and Mitchell had a layup to give the Liberty a 63-58 lead with about 6 1/2 minutes to go.
Hammon hit a 3-pointer 25 seconds later and Adams made one of her own with 4:38 remaining to push the Silver Stars ahead, 66-65.
After Pondexter hit two free throws to put the Liberty up by three a minute later, Hammon hit another 3 to tie it 71-all with 3:26 left.
"The second half we definitely did all the small things that allowed us to be in a situation to win the game at the end," Pondexter said.
Ruth Riley made consecutive jumpers to give San Antonio a 44-43 lead with 5:47 left in the third quarter. After Hammon made a free throw 31 seconds later, Pondexter's jumper tied the score 45-45 midway through the period.
Jayne Appel's three-point play with 1:19 to go in the third gave the Silver Stars a 53-52 lead.
Leilani Mitchell's layup at the buzzer appeared to put the Liberty back ahead, but it was disallowed after a video review.
The Liberty scored seven consecutive points to take a 31-22 lead on Pondexter's layup with 6:56 to go in the second quarter.
New York mostly maintained that lead until Tully Bevilaqua made two free throws in the final minute of the period to pull the Silver Stars to 39-34 at the break.
Young had a layup and Danielle Robinson made two free throws to pull San Antonio within a point in the opening minute of the third quarter.
New York's Essence Carson missed the game due to traumatic iritis to her right eye. She is expected to play the next game at San Antonio next Friday.
The Liberty honored former star Vickie Johnson, now an assistant with the Silver Stars, at halftime as the team's first inductee into its Ring of Honor. Johnson spent nine seasons in New York before going to San Antonio for four more. She is the Liberty's franchise leader in scoring (3,246 points), rebounds (1,053), games (282), field goals made and attempted, and free throws made and attempted.
Teresa Weatherspoon, Sue Wicks and Kym Hampton have also been selected for induction into the Ring, and will be individually honored at other games this summer.
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