Liberty loses to Sky, falls half-game behind for last playoff spot
NEWARK -- The Liberty doesn't need an epiphany to realize its current state -- on the outside looking in on the playoff chase.
The Sky's Epiphanny -- Prince -- put them there.
The former Rutgers star scored 30 points and Chicago never trailed in a 92-83 win over the Liberty at Prudential Center on Friday night. Chicago moved a half-game ahead of the Liberty for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with six games to play.
The Sky (11-16) also earned a season split with the Liberty (11-17), meaning if the teams are tied at the end of the season, the postseason tiebreaker will be conference record. The Liberty is 8-12 against the East and Chicago is 7-12.
One saving grace for the Liberty is that four of its final six games are against last-place teams Washington and Tulsa.
Prince hit three fourth-quarter three-pointers to give the Sky a 10-point lead with 4:15 to play. Prince was 5-for-10 from three-point range, including a four-point play to open the scoring.
"We started right from the beginning not guarding them and that carried right through," said Liberty coach John Whisenant, who received a technical foul in the second quarter. "We just didn't defend them and that led to too many easy baskets."
The Liberty's 8-0 run, capped by Cappie Pondexter's three-pointer, made it 58-55 at the 4:04 mark of the third quarter and prompted a Chicago timeout. But the Sky answered with a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 10. Pondexter had 24 points.
Prince hit a jumper as the shot clock expired, then Tamera Young (19 points) hit an elbow jumper to make it 69-58 with 23.9 seconds left in the third. The Liberty never cut the lead to below seven in the fourth quarter.
Kara Braxton did her best to keep the Liberty in the game in the first half, scoring nine of her 13 points in the second quarter. But Prince's layup with 1.4 seconds left in the half gave Chicago a 46-41 lead at the break.