Liberty season ends in first-round elimination
TRACY JUSAY Special to the AmNews | 10/5/2012, 4:55 p.m.
Playoff basketball is never pretty. It's a downright grind, both mentally and physically, and in the end, one team comes away disappointed. After suffering a loss in Game 1 to the Connecticut Sun, the New York Liberty went into Game 2 looking to even the series and force the decisive Game 3. That would not be the case, as the Sun defeated the Liberty 75-62 last Saturday night, sweeping the series 2-0. Thus, their season ended the same way it began--with a loss to the Sun.
The Liberty's confidence appeared to have returned at the start of the game, the team utilizing an offensive burst that resulted in a 12-0 run. With momentum clearly in their favor, they surged ahead by as many as 16 in the second quarter before the Sun finally settled in offensively and played like the team that won the opening game of the series. By halftime, the Liberty were only up six and the second half was still anybody's game.
As expected, the Sun made the needed adjustments and responded to the Liberty's effort from the first half. By the end of the third quarter, the margin was only two and the clock was now ticking on the Liberty's playoff lives. They trailed for the first few minutes of the fourth quarter before a 3-pointer from Cappie Pondexter, followed by a hook shot from Plenette Pierson, gave the Liberty back the lead, with the possibility they could steal this game and extend the series.
Basketball is a game of runs, and as quickly as the Liberty had the lead, it was taken away. The Sun pulled ahead off a four-point play from Kara Lawson, and after that point, the Liberty never recovered. WNBA MVP and Queens native Tina Charles finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Sun in the victory.
Pondexter led all Liberty scorers with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists. Kara Braxton was the only other Liberty player in double figures, contributing 10 points.
"It was a complicated game," Pondexter said. "I think the depth that they had wore on us. They are a great team."
This playoff loss marks the second year in a row the Liberty were eliminated in the first round. While it's never a good feeling to be swept, Pondexter said it best: "Life goes on and we'll make improvements for next year."