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By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Writer

The New York Liberty were one of the league's hottest teams heading into the WNBA's month-long Olympic break, but that momentum seemed to have disappeared in their first two games back.

They're hoping they rediscovered it with a thrilling win in their latest game.

New York looks to build on its overtime victory and resume its push toward the top of the Eastern Conference when it hosts the league-worst Atlanta Dream on Friday.

The Liberty (16-12) were 9-9 in mid-July, but finished the month in impressive fashion. They won six of seven heading into the Olympic hiatus to pull within a half-game of East-leading Connecticut.

New York, though, struggled in its first two games after the break, blowing second-half leads in losses to Chicago and Detroit. It looked like that would happen for the third straight time Tuesday in Houston, when the Liberty squandered a 10-point halftime lead and allowed the Comets to force overtime.

However, Janel McCarville scored eight of her career-high 33 points in the extra period to lead New York to a 90-87 victory, snapping Houston's eight-game home winning streak.

"They couldn't (stop me)," McCarville, who tied Becky Hammon's single-game team scoring record, told the Liberty's official Web site. "We talked about how everyone needs to step up their roles and hit big shots when the ball is in their hands."

New York is a half-game back of Detroit and 2 1/2 behind Connecticut.

McCarville's effort was all the more critical with New York's leading scorer, Shameka Christon (16.0 points per game), out with a strained right hamstring.

Christon's status for Friday's game is uncertain, but McCarville has stepped up her game of late and shown her ability to fill the scoring void. She's second on the team with 13.7 ppg, but is averaging 22.3 over her past four games.

That stretch started when McCarville had 22 points and 10 rebounds in an 86-76 win over the Dream on July 27, the team's last game before the month-long break.

Atlanta (3-27), which lost the first 17 games of its inaugural season, won three of its next five but has been struggling since. The Dream come in having dropped eight straight, including their last three by an average of 15 points.

They shot 32.4 percent and were outrebounded 41-30 in an 83-69 home loss to Seattle on Tuesday.

"We had no way of keeping them off the boards," said coach Marynell Meadors, whose team averages a league-worst 31.7 rebounds per game. "They just had their way with us on the glass, getting most of the rebounds from us.''

Betty Lennox, scoring a team-best 17.4 points per game, has averaged 23.7 in her last three games.

The Liberty won their first two meetings with Atlanta by a combined 14 points.

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