Cappie Pondexter leads Liberty past Sun in first game back from Olympic break
NEWARK -- The Liberty's first game back from a disappointing first half and monthlong Olympic break was easily their best performance of the season.
They upset the best team in the WNBA, handing the Connecticut Sun their fifth loss of the season with a 79-66 win at the Prudential Center Thursday night.
They also avenged the worst defeat in franchise history, a 97-55 loss to the Sun on June 15. But most importantly, they showed promise for a potential playoff push down the final stretch of the season.
Cappie Pondexter scored 24 points and Plenette Pierson, who returned after missing eight games with calf and knee injuries, added 16. "We had a month off and we really focused and rejuvenated ourselves and just committed to being better," said Pondexter, who hit a 25-foot three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give the Liberty a 39-35 lead.
The Liberty opened the second half on an 11-4 run for a 50-39 lead and Pondexter's steal and coast-to-coast layup with 1:41 left in the third quarter made it 59-46.
Essence Carson hit a floater off glass in transition and Pondexter added a three off an inbounds pass as the Liberty opened its largest lead of the game at 73-54 with seven minutes to go in the fourth.
Kia Vaughn and backup center Kara Braxton held Tina Charles, who is averaging 18.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, scoreless until the 2:23 mark of the third. Charles, who just helped Team USA win gold in London, shot 1-for-7 and had a season-low four points with 12 rebounds.
"We did a good job keeping her out of there," Liberty coach John Whisenant said of Charles' presence in the paint.
Renee Montgomery had 16 points to lead the Sun (15-5), which had 17 turnovers.
The Liberty (7-12) snapped a three-game losing streak and now begin a five-game road trip with a rematch against Connecticut at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"Our goal is to win 10 more games to make that playoff run," Pondexter said. "Tonight is a great start."