NEW YORK, August 12, 2007 (AP) -- Erin Thorn knew she had less than 4 seconds to get off a shot with the New York Liberty trailing by one point.
Thorn made a jumper at the final buzzer to lift New York to an 85-84 victory over the defending champion Detroit Shock on Sunday, improving the Liberty's chances for a playoff berth.
"When I got the ball, I had a big on me so I knew I had to create some space to be able to get a shot up,'' Thorn said. "I took two hard dribbles and faded away a little to create some space. I knew if I got it up on the rim it would give it a chance to go in.''
Guarded by Detroit's Plenette Pierson, Thorn got the inbounds pass, took two dribbles to the left and launched a fadeaway that bounced off the front of the rim, hit the backboard and fell in.
"I knew once it hit the rim, because it was soft up on the rim, it would probably fall,'' Thorn said. "Leaving my hand, I didn't know if it felt good. I thought 'Get a shot off, give it a chance.'''
Tiffany Jackson scored 16 points, Janel McCarville had 14, and Thorn, Ashley Battle and Loree Moore added 11 for New York (13-17). The Liberty, who rallied from 13-point deficit in the third quarter, pulled one game behind Washington for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
"We've been putting ourselves in positions to win close ones,'' Liberty coach Pat Coyle said. "Down the stretch, we had to execute to get back in the game, and we did.''
Deanna Nolan had 19 points and Katie Feenstra added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Detroit (24-7), which already clinched home-court advantage throughout the postseason. The Shock, playing without injured stars Cheryl Ford and Swin Cash, lost for just the second time in 15 games.
"This was a compete and have fun kind of game,'' Nolan said. "We still wanted to play hard and compete. We wanted to set the tone and get some other players more time to see what they can do.''
After Cathrine Kraayeveld made a layup with 41.9 seconds to go to pull New York within one, Nolan - who scored 12 points in the fourth quarter - missed a 15-footer in the lane with 25 seconds left. The Liberty then retained the possession three times when the ball went out of bounds, including the final time with 3.3 seconds left.
"If we came up with the ball after one of those rebounds, the game was over,'' Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said.
Shameka Christon added 10 points for New York, which earned a split of the four-game season series with Detroit - the Liberty's likely first-round opponent if they make the playoffs. The teams split the last two games, both in overtime on the Shock's home court.
"We played them tough all year long,'' McCarville said. "We just wanted to come out and take it to them. It didn't matter that that they were the No. 1 team.''
McCarville scored four straight points to pull New York to 72-70 with 7:16 left. After Nolan hit a 3 to stretch the lead back to five, Battle made a free throw for a technical on Laimbeer and Jackson had a driving layup.
Moore's 3 got the Liberty to 77-76 with 5:28 left, but Nolan hit a 3 of her own 23 seconds later and then added a jumper with 4:14 to go to push Detroit's lead to six.
After Nolan hit another jumper with 2:13 left, Battle's 3 20 seconds later pulled the Liberty to 84-81.
Detroit was hit with three technicals, starting with Pierson's at the end of the third and a delay of game with 8:24 to go in the fourth.
The Shock used a 19-2 run spanning halftime to take a 64-51 lead, with Ivory Latta's jumper with 4 minutes left in the third quarter capping a stretch of 13 consecutive points by Detroit.
However, the Liberty had a 12-2 run - including six points each by Jackson and Battle - to pull to 68-65 at the start of the fourth quarter.
New York led 32-28 after the first quarter while tying a season high for scoring in a period. The Liberty also had 32 points in the opening quarter of a 71-61 win against Sacramento on July 8.
Pierson scored four straight points in the final 1:51 of the second quarter to tie the score at 49 at the break.