Liberty Bring Down Sky

In their first game after clinching a berth in the 2008 WNBA playoffs, the New York Liberty continued their push for home-court advantage in the first round with a dramatic 69-61 win over the Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

The victory over Chicago was an important one for the Liberty, as just over a week ago, New York fell to the Sky at The Garden 69-60 in their first game back after the Olympic break.

Sunday's contest was a hard-fought, tooth-and-nail battle from the beginning, as neither team could pull away from the other for most of the game. Rookie Sylvia Fowles was dominate for the Sky, scoring 14 points, including 10 in the opening half. However, Liberty rookie Essence Carson was equally impressive in the first half, scoring 10 of her own to keep New York in the game with Chicago up by one, 32-31, entering the second half.

Chicago gradually increased its lead as the game progressed, and with 7:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Sky stretched had it out to their biggest advantage of the day, up 51-46. From there on out, however, the game belonged to New York as the home team showed tremendous heart in refusing to lose by going on a remarkable 15-0 run

Down by five, Ashley Battle started the run when she drove strong to the hole for a hard-earned basket. On the next possession, Loree Moore penetrated the defense and kicked the ball out to Erin Thorn who, hit a 23-foot three-pointer from the corner that tied the game at 51-51. Just seconds later, Thorn hit an identical shot from the same spot on a kickout from Janel McCarville to give New York the lead.

McCarville followed that up with a hoop of her own. After Cathrine Kraayeveld stole the ball from Candice Dupree, Battle knocked down a three. The Liberty finished the run when Kraayeveld made a lay-up off a feed from Thorn, forcing Chicago to call timeout.

When all was said and done, New York had clawed back to take a 64-54 lead -- an advantage the Sky could not overcome in the long run.

Despite leaving the game early, McCarville led the team with 16 points. She also finished the game with three six boards, four assists and a steal.

McCarville's absence, coupled with the injuries to Shameka Christon and Tiffany Jackson, might give New York cause for major concern, but the Liberty remained confident after the game that they would persevere.

"I think we have a lot of character,” said Head Coach Pat Coyle. “I think the injuries we have been suffering are giving other players a chance to play. From day one, the depth is the strength of this team. Unfortunately, our depth is being tested through injuries.”

Meanwhile Moore, who had been suffering through a slump of late, dominated from start to finish. She played a solid all-around game, recording nine points, five assists and three rebounds. Moore even added a dramatic buzzer-beating three point heave to end the first quarter, much to the crowd’s delight.

“It felt good tonight,” the point guard said. “I stuck with it and didn’t really allow the slump to get to me. I tried not to get down too much, kept practicing hard and it paid off tonight. It feels good to get a good one off my belt.

Kraayeveld was impressive as well, pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds. She also added eight points on the night along with a steal and New York’s only blocked shot of the game.

New York continues its quest for home-court advantage with a tilt against the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars Tuesday night.

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