Cappie, Carson help Liberty top Storm, 77-59
NEWARK -- The WNBA season is still young and playoff berths are far from being clinched or lost, but the struggling Liberty needed a good omen.
The Liberty broke a two-game skid and is two games behind the Atlanta Dream for the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot. The Storm, meanwhile, saw its five-game winning streak come to an end.
"I don't even think it was about Seattle, honestly," Pondexter said. "We were really striving to win, and we really wanted to win. We worked for the past week. We had a week to prepare, and I think having a week off, getting our legs refreshed and our minds focused . . . We were able to come out and win."
New York led 31-23 at the half as the Storm (6-8) shot a woeful 7-for-32 from the field while committing 14 turnovers. But Liberty starting center Kia Vaughn left the game in the second quarter with a concussion, which could open the door for 2012 first-round pick (seventh overall) Kelley Cain to receive more playing time.
Vaughn scored eight points before exiting and is the team's leading rebounder at more than six per game. Entering Saturday's game, Cain had averaged less than six minutes per game in eight appearances.
"It's a big loss, but as you saw today, when somebody goes down, we had a lot of people step up," Carson said. "As long as we continue to pick up the slack, we'll be all right."
As for who will fill in for Vaughn, Liberty coach John Whisenant said: "Whoever wants to step up. We'll certainly give Kelley Cain some opportunities."
The Liberty (5-9) avoided yet another third-quarter swoon, having been outscored by a combined 29 points in the previous two games.
Carson opened the second half with a bank shot, and Pondexter picked off an errant pass from Syosset's Sue Bird (nine points) on the ensuing play, converting the layup to give the Liberty a 35-23 advantage.
Bird drained a three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in the third to cut the Liberty lead to 56-48. The teams scored 25 points apiece in the third, a victory of sorts for a Liberty team that has had its share of third-quarter woes.
"I talked to the guys, and I told them that I think the most important thing about going into the third quarter is controlling how hard you play," Pondexter said. "And I think we came out focused and intense."