Defense Keys Libs to Third Straight Win

The raucous Prudential Center crowd knew what the team had to do to procure a victory.

Chanting defense to inspire their team through most of the second half, the Liberty capped off a ferocious 17 point comeback that was sealed with an Essence Carson three pointer with 31.7 seconds left as to defeat the Sky 80-73 for its third straight victory.

New York’s defense was tenacious throughout the game, forcing Chicago into 21 turnovers while pestering the posts. It was the second most turnovers the Sky have committed all season.

After missing the past two games with an eye injury, Carson came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points, including nine in the fourth quarter alone. Wearing protective goggles during the game, Carson admitted they were sometimes uncomfortable to wear, which made her a little hesitant to shoot in the beginning of the game.

“Today, I didn’t want to come in and just shoot the ball. I wanted to come in with rhythm,” she said. “Especially with the team coming off back to back wins, they had been in rhythm. I didn’t want to come in and disrupt that rhythm.”

Held in check for most of the game, Cappie Pondexter also exploded in the final frame, scoring 13 of her 18 points in the final quarter. Together Pondexter and Carson combined for 22 of the teams 26 points in the fourth. Pondexter has had a flair for heroics at the end of games this year and spoke of how she enjoys having the ball in her hands is confident in her ability to score and keep her team in the game.

“When the game is on the line, I pride myself on making things happen,” she said. “If I struggle the whole game, I still have the confidence to help my team win and help us be successful.”

Plenette Pierson, Nicole Powell, Kia Vaughn and Quanitra Hollingsworth also scored in double figures for a balanced offensive effort. It was the first time this season that the Liberty had six players score in the double figures.

Sylvia Fowles, referred to by Hollingsworth as one of if not the best center in the WNBA, was held in check for most of the night, committing a team-high five turnovers while scoring only 14 points.

“I really enjoy guarding [Fowles],” said Hollingsworth, who notched a season-high 11 points herself. “She’s a big body, very athletic, and definitely presents a challenge. But I’m always up for it. ”

After allowing 85 points per game the first seven games of the year, New York’s defense has begun to click, only allowing 75 points in its past five games against some high octane offensive teams. Against Chicago, New York surrendered 49 points in the first half before locking down and holding them to 24 in the second half. Head coach John Whisenant attributed his team’s work ethic as the main reason for the clutch defense.

“I think the team feels like we can win every game,” he said. “I’m proud of my team, I think they showed courage.”

The Liberty’s next game will be on July 13, as they host the Atlanta Dream.