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WNBA: BEHIND THE SCENES 2011 – Liberty Central – LIBERTY FORCE A GAME 3

WNBA: BEHIND THE SCENES 2011 – Liberty Central – LIBERTY FORCE A GAME 3

Cappie Pondexter (photo credit: Thomas Humprey)

With their backs against the wall the NY Liberty came out fighting from the tip.  Nicole Powell and Leilani Mitchell found the range from deep and Plenette Pierson, Kia Vaughn and Kara Braxton neutalized Indiana front line.  Powell who led the Liberty with 19 points, a playoff career-high, also set her playoff-career best with three steals on the day.  Leilani Mitchell recorded a playoff career-high in three point field goals with three and Essence Carson finished with 12 points off the bench, all coming in the fourth quarter. New York scored 30 points in the second quarter matching their season-high in one quarter for points scored and matched their playoff record for most points in a half with 50 points.

For the second consecutive game, Katie Douglas led Indiana in scoring, with a game-high 20 points.  Tamika Catchings scored just 2 points, but grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.  Shavonte Zellous added 13 points off the bench.

The Liberty had five players score in double figures – Powell 19, Pierson 15, Pondexter 14, Carson 12 & Vaughn 10. Game three is on Monday night in Indiana.

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Liberty Give Indiana ‘Fever’ on the boards

Liberty Center Kia Vaughn defends Fever Center Tammy Sutton-Brown

It was the strongest statement the Liberty could make going into the playoffs, an 83-75 victory over the conference leading Indiana Fever.  Essence Carson led the way offensively with a game high 18 points off the bench, and NY controlled the game on the boards, out-rebounding Indiana 30-19.

“They just killed us on the boards.”  Fever head coach Lin Dunn said after the game.  “We both shot well from the three-point line, from the free-throw, but you can’t give them all of those second chance points. she continued.  “It might end up shooting you in the foot, so I am really disappointed that we didn’t rebound better.  You have to give (Kia) Vaughn, (Plenette) Pierson, (Quanitra) Hollingsworth, and (Kara) Braxton credit.  They really went to the boards and seemed to want the game more than we did.”

The Liberty scored 29 points in the first quarter to run out to a 29-21 lead. Their 29 points was one shy of the most points scored in a quarter this season.  Five Liberty players scored in double digits.  “You definitely want to go into the playoffs with a good head of steam, some good momentum.”  Carson said.  “Our last game definitely wasn’t our best so we want to forget about that and continue to move forward and now we just have to worry about Connecticut.”

The Liberty finished the 2011 season at the Prudential Center with a record of 12-5 on the season.

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Lynx defeat Liberty 86-68

Last Friday the New York Liberty traveled to Minneapolis and handed the Lynx their third home loss of the season.  Fast-forward to the Prudential Center where the Lynx returned the favor.  The game for the Liberty was best described by Liberty forward Plenette Pierson (photo l).  “It seemed like the basket was open for them and it was closed for us,” Pierson said. “I think we played defense, we had some let downs off and on and I think that’s what led to their run.” she continued. “When you’re hitting shots that can fuel you either way it goes. For us, our defense led to some easy shots and we missed them, so that was the biggest thing.”  It truly was.

Minnesota held New York to just five points on 1-of-19 shooting in the third quarter. The five points matches the fewest given up by the Lynx in a single quarter in franchise history. New York shot just 35.7% for the game.  The Lynx did another good defensive job on Liberty star Cappie Pondexter, holding her to nine points on 0-of-9 shooting. Minnesota held Pondexter, the league’s fifth leading scorer (18.0 ppg) to just 13 points on 4-of-17 from the floor Friday night at Target Center. In the last three meetings coming into tonight, the Lynx had limited Pondexter to an average of 12pts (29% FG & 32% 3ptrs).

For the Lynx, rookie Maya Moore (photo r) had a game-high 19 points to go along with 6 rebounds.  Plenette Pierson led the Liberty with 17-points and 8 rebounds, this is her sixth consecutive game scoring in double digits.

photos provided by Thomas Humphrey

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‘SUN-DOWN’…PONDEXTER, LIBERTY DEFEAT SUN IN OVERTIME THRILLER

Cappie Pondexter - NY Liberty (Thomas Humphrey)

In what had to be one of the most exciting games at the Prudential Center so far this season, the NY Liberty handled the Connecticut Sun for their first victory of the season against their eastern conference opponent.  Liberty all-star Cappie Pondexter carried her team in this game, and especially in overtime.

Cappie Pondexter dropped in 27 points for the night, her 22nd consecutive game scoring in double digits and third consecutive game with at least 25 points.  Pondexter also led the late-game rally, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.  “I thought it was a great win for us. Pondexter said.  “It showed you our competitiveness, just how bad we were willing to win. she continued.  “When you have that attitude, especially this late in the season when you’re tired, when you’re practicing, and you really don’t have a break, you know that’s pretty hard to do.  Pondexter played all 45 minutes of the game.

Essence Carson set a career-high with five steals and matched her career-best with eight rebounds.   And Kia Vaughn recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.  Vaughn also matched her career-high with three blocked shots.

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LIBERTY ‘MYSTIFIED’ IN D.C.

Matee Ajavon scored her 1000th career point and had a game-high 32 pts and Crystal Langhorne added 20 points and 9 boards as the Washington Mystics defeated the visiting NY Liberty 91-81.

Washington led by 8 after the first quarter and pushed their lead to 12 by halftime 50-38.

THE ‘WOW’ FACTOR:
The 50-points scored by Washington was a season high in a first half. The Mystics were on fire in the half shooting 56 percent (15 of 27) from the floor and 95 percent (18 of 19) from the line, and out-rebounded the Liberty 18-7. Washington finished the game at 29 for 58 (50 percent) from the field.

For the Liberty, Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson led the way offensively, scoring 21 & 20 points, respectively. Nicole Powell dropped in 13 and Quanitra Hollingsworth and Essence Carson added 11 points each off the bench.

The Mystics won for just the fourth time this season, second time at home.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS

Matee Ajavon Post-game Interview

Crystal Langhorne Post-game Interview

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PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 01:  DeWanna Bonner #24, Ma...

(L-R) DeWanna Bonner #24, Marie Ferdinand-Harris #9, Kara Braxton #45 and Penny Taylor. Image by Getty Images via @daylife

NEW YORK LIBERTY ACQUIRE ALL-STAR F/C  KARA BRAXTON
Forward Sidney Spencer Traded to Phoenix

The New York Liberty have acquired All-Star forward/center Kara Braxton from the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for forward Sidney Spencer, it was announced today by Head Coach and General Manager John Whisenant.

“Kara is a All-Star player with championship experience that has been successful in the league for a number of years and will make an immediate impact on the court. We feel this move increases our depth in the post and sets us up for further success as we look to build a championship caliber team,” said Whisenant. “Sidney Spencer is a incredible leader, tireless worker, and model teammate who will be missed. She’s a great shooter going to Phoenix where shooters are a premium, we wish her success in the future and thank her for her contributions to the franchise.”

Originally drafted by the Detroit Shock as the No. 7 overall pick of the 2005 WNBA Draft from University of Georgia, Braxton has posted career averages of 7.9 ppg and 4.6 rpg. A WNBA All-Star, Braxton helped lead Detroit to two WNBA Championships and has appeared in 41 playoff games averaging 7.4 ppg and 4.6 rpg. Braxton was acquired by Phoenix on July 23, 2010 in a trade sending Nicole Ohlde and a 2011 first round draft pick to Tulsa. This season, the 6-6 forward/center is averaging 10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 1.3 apg. Currently she ranks third in the WNBA in field-goal percentage (.600) and sixth in efficiency ranking per 40 minutes (24.7).

Sidney Spencer was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the 25th overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft shortly after winning the 2007 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship at the University of Tennessee. The Liberty acquired her rights via a trade with Los Angeles in exchange for the Liberty’s 2010 first round draft pick on May 5, 2009.  Spencer is currently averaging 2.5 ppg and 0.8 rpg.

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DEFENSIVE MINDED LIBERTY STIFLE SKY IN FOURTH QUARTER TO MAKE WNBA HISTORY

NY Liberty (photo credit: Thomas Humphrey )

In a low-scoring affair, the New York Liberty  became the first team to hold their opponent to 1-point in a quarter since the four quarters format was adopted in 2006.  New York held Chicago without a field goal in the 4th quarter and the Sky scored a season low 49 points.  “They had time to prepare for us and I thought Pokey (Chatman) did a good job having them prepared to stop us. Liberty coach John Whisenant observed.  “We missed some shots and missed some more.  Fortunately, and this is what I preach to our team since I came here is defense will keep you in the game, you’ve got to score to win them.”  He continued. “When you’re down, you’ve got to get stops, because you’re not catching up if you let them score. But our team stayed focused and they believed in what they were doing. We were able to start making some shots and held them to one point in the fourth quarter which is pretty good defense.”

For the Liberty Cappie Pondexter scored a game-high 15 points, while teammate Nicole Powell recorded her second double-double of the season (13 points and 10 rebounds).  “Sometimes you don’t shoot the ball well, you have to rely on defense, and that’s our bread and butter of our team. Powell said. “It creates offense for us and we got some steals and transitions because of the defense.”

Sylvia Fowles - Chicago Sky (photo credit: Thomas Humphrey)

Sky center Sylvia Fowles was the only Chicago player to score in double-digits with 11 points.  First-year coach Pokey Chatman summed up her teams performance with this statement.  “We scored one point in the fourth quarter.  When you go on the road and the team that is hot scores fifty-nine points, you need to win the game.  We didn’t do that.  The inability to score, turnovers, and a lot of empty possessions, so all of the hard work we did we essentially let slip away.  We were in attack mode a lot of east and west, north and south.”

The Liberty will now travel to Washington to take on the Washington Mystics (3-14), a team that has won just one home game so far this season.  (Saturday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m.)

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Liberty 3-point shooting a nightmare for Dream

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The NY Liberty traveled to Atlanta to face a Dream team winners of five of their last six games.  NY was coming off a tough loss against Phoenix at home.  No problem.  Leilani Mitchell found her stroke and was ‘trey sweet’ from downtown, nailing four 3-pointers, all in the fourth quarter.  NY shot a whopping 57.9% (11-19) from behind the arc while the Dream were 0-6.

The Liberty continue to get solid play from Plenette Pierson who finished with a team high 20 points and 8 rebounds, all-star guard Cappie Pondexter dropped in 16 points to go along with 5 assists  and 5 rebounds and Nicole Powell added 13 points, including three 3-pointers, as the Liberty bounced back in fine fashion.

New York is one game behind second-place Connecticut and 2.5 games behind first-place Indiana in the conference.

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‘TAYLOR MADE’ – Penny Drops 29 on Liberty in Newark

Penny Taylor (photo courtesy of Thomas Humphrey)

The WNBA’s best offensive team came into the Prudential Center and handed the NY Liberty a 91-84 loss, snapping their three game losing streak in the process.  All-star Penny Taylor had a 29-points performance, one-point shy of her season-high and Diana Taurasi, held in check most of the game, added 16 points for the visiting Mercury.

For the Liberty,  Nicole Powell finished with a team-high 16 points and registered her career-best with six steals. Kia Vaughn tallied a career-high four assists.  Vaughn also recorded her third double-double of the season with 11 points and ten rebounds.

Plenette Pierson, who finished her month of July with 15 points in tonight’s game, has scored in double figures in every game she played in July.  Cappie Pondexter added 13 points for the Liberty.

Other key stats:

The Liberty shot 42.5% from the field and a very anemic 26.3% (5/19) from beyond the arc.

Quanitra Hollingsworth recorded her season-high with eight rebounds.

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Take an All-Access look at Cappie Pondexter around her home and at practice for the New York Liberty.

24 Hours with Cappie Pondexter

Liberty Pound Shock

New York defeats Tulsa by 31 points, their largest margin of victory this season.

Tulsa's Sheryl Swoopes battles NY's Kia Vaughn for rebound (photo credit: Thomas Humphrey)

This was a one-sided game as the New York defeated Tulsa by 31 points, their largest margin of victory this season.  NY made sure there would be no let down against the leagues worse team by coming out aggressively from the start.  The Liberty shot a red-hot 57% from the field in the first quarter led by Cappie Pondexter’s 7 points.

“We came out and attacked the game the way you should after a loss. The all-star guard observed.  “Going against a team that has won one game, it’s easy to step into the game and feel like you automatically won. She continued.  “We remind each other [during] warm-up, the beginning of the game, and at half-time, it’s not over. That team (Tulsa) is searching for a win, they have a new coach and new energy so anything can happen.”

Three Liberty starters scored in double-digits, 15 points, 8 rebounds from Kia Vaughn, 12 points from Plenette Pierson and a game-high 18 points from Cappie Pondexter.  Essence Carson added 17 points of the bench, as the Liberty improve their record to 9-6 (third place in the east).

The Liberty now look to continue their winning ways as they travel to Connecticut to take on the second place Sun, the team which ended NY’s four-game winning streak, and is just percentage points ahead of NY.

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‘SUN-BAKED’ – Plenette Sits, Liberty Lose

The Liberty missed the presence of C/F Plenette Pierson who sat out the game with a knee injury (Thoams Humpfrey photos)

A road weary Connecticut Sun team arrived at into Prudential Center losers of two games in a row and having won just one road game,  to face a NY Liberty team on a streak of their own, winners of four in  a row.  But the Sun dug utilizing their size and speed, put an end to NY’s streak and won on the road for the second time this season.

With Plenette Pierson, their second leading rebounder and strong inside presence sitting out the game with a strained patella tendon, the Liberty still managed to out-rebound the Sun 35-31, but were outscored in the paint 30-24.

The Liberty shot a dismal 37% from the field (24-64) and the Sun took advantage outscoring the Liberty on fast-break points 15-5.  The Liberty were down by only 1 at the half, but gave a lack-luster second half performance, managing to score just 7 points in the fourth quarter.

Kia Vaughn (courtesy of Thomas Humphrey photos)

Liberty center Kia Vaugh continued her solid play, finishing the game with 15pts & 9 boards, Nicole Powell added 13pts and 6 rebounds and Cappie Pondexter had 11 points in a losing effort.

“We didn’t have any energy and I don’t know if it was because we were playing all of these games.”   Pondexter said after the game.  “Practicing, and no days off.  I don’t know what it is, she continued, “but I can tell we were a step slow and our shots weren’t falling.  We just played a very intense game against Atlanta and we had to go right back in the gym and prepare for Connecticut.”

NY’s bench managed just 14 points.

For Connecticut, Asjha Jones scored 14pts & 7 rebounds and Renee Montgomery had 12 pts.  With today’s win, Connecticut moves into second place in the Eastern Conference.

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Cappie & Spoon

Know Your Liberty: Cappie Pondexter & Teresa Weatherspoon

Liberty’s Cappie Pondexter and WNBA Star Teresa Weatherspoon talk about their experiences and their fond memories of each other.

New York won its third consecutive game, their longest winning streak of the season.

Essence Carson - NY Liberty guard

After tonight’s win against Chicago, New York has taken second place in the Eastern Conference.
Six players scored in double figures for the Liberty, the first time this season.
Second consecutive game that five or more members of the Liberty scored in double figures.
Third consecutive game Cappie Pondexter, Plenette Pierson, Nicole Powell, and Kia Vaughn all scored in double figures.
New York finished the game on a 10-0 run, taking the lead for good with 31.7 seconds left off an Essence Carson three point field goal.
New York recorded their first victory against Chicago this season.

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Fresh off a national championship with Texas A & M, meet NY Liberty rookie point guard, #50, Sydney Colson.

Colson’s College Highlights
2011 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention…Posted 100-assist seasons three straight years…Top 5 nationally in assists (6.4 apg), and top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3)…Leads Big 12 in assists and second in assist-to-turnover ratio…Ranks fifth all-time in A&M’s career assists (474) and fourth in steals (239).  National Champion (2010-11).

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Former WNBA Player Adrienne Goodson chats with NY Liberty forward Plenette Pierson and All-Star Guard Cappie Pondexter about the 2011 NY Liberty.

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Adrienne Goodson with Newark, NJ Mayor and NY Liberty fan Cory Booker


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