Liberty Fall in Home Opener in Front of Raucous Newark Crowd

As the opening lineups were announced, the electric crowd at the Prudential Center erupted, welcoming the Liberty to their new home for the next three years as Madison Square Garden undergoes its transformation.

While the end result was a disappointment, with the Liberty succumbing to a late Fever rally for an 86-80 loss, New York showed fans in its home opener the exciting brand of basketball they can expect all season.

The loss was the first of the young season as the Liberty's record dropped to 2-1. For the second time in consecutive nights, the Fever were able to construct a comeback. Star guard Cappie Pondexter was able to thwart their first attempt Friday night by hitting the game-winning jumper with 8.1 seconds left, but she and the Liberty were unable to hold off the Fever in the end on Saturday. 

The Libs finished with four players scoring double figures, with Essence Carson leading the way with 23 points, while Plenette Pierson, Nicole Powell and Pondexter each chipped in 16, 13 and 13 respectively. 

“We have no excuses, we lost to a good team,” head coach John Whisenant said. “The reason they have been in the playoffs the past four or five years in a row, winning 20 plus games, is they are a good veteran team. They did a good job and deserved the win.”

Forward Tamika Catchings led the way for Indiana, scoring a team high 19 points, with guard Katie Douglas adding 17.  Rookie guard Jeanette Pohlen scored a career high 14 points off the bench, hitting a team high four three pointers, including the daggar with 32 seconds left to help seal the victory for the Fever. 

Just like the first two games of the year, Saturday's match came down to the final minute. Whisenant admitted he’s worried about how the team will finish games, and believed fatigue may have been a factor in the home opener after playing back to back games. Still, he said Indiana had to travel back to Newark just like the Liberty did, and the team will look at film on Monday to correct some of the issues near the end of games.

After the team finished the third quarter with a seven point lead, Pondexter said the team lost their energy and momentum in the fourth.

“There’s no way we can beat a good team like Indiana without scoring or getting stops,” she said.

This will be a learning experience for the young Liberty squad and something the team will come across again. But, according to Pierson, it’s an experience the team shouldn’t look back on and ponder what they could have done differently. Instead, they need to take the positives out of it and get ready for their next game.

The team will look to rebound on Tuesday against the Atlanta Dream at home.