An air ball was a fitting end to Cappie Pondexter's night.
The Liberty trailed by two, only 19 seconds remained, and Pondexter had yet to score a point. Still, the inbounds pass went to her with a chance to give the Liberty the lead. But her three-pointer from the right wing hit nothing but air and the Liberty fell to Chicago, 73-69, Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Pondexter, who faced constant double-teams off the pick-and-roll, shot 0-for-7 from the field and missed both of her free-throw attempts.
"I wouldn't say it was a tough night," she said, alluding to her low shot total. "I made the right plays for other people to score. I did what I could. But me scoring zero points won't happen again."
The Liberty had no answer for New York City native Epiphanny Prince. She had 30 points, matching the season high she totaled against the Liberty on June 18. One of her five three-pointers came with 3:16 left and gave the Sky a 70-65 lead.
"She's a great player, especially when she comes to MSG," Tina Charles said. "This is like her home court."
Plenette Pierson found Charles, who had 16 points and eight rebounds, down low for an easy layup to pull the Liberty within 71-69 with 45.7 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Pierson's layup attempt was blocked out of bounds by Sylvia Fowles, setting up Pondexter's shot.
The Liberty (4-11) opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run, capped when Alex Montgomery (11 points) stripped the ball and went coast to coast for a layup, and pulled within 52-50 with 7:27 left in the quarter.
But the Sky (7-8) -- playing without Elena Delle Donne, who missed the game because of a recurrence of Lyme disease -- responded with a 9-0 run. Prince hit an open jumper off an inbounds pass and an uncontested pull-up three-pointer to help open a 61-50 lead.
"That goes back to the little things that we talked about that we can't continue to do," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said of allowing open shots. "Until we clean those up, we're going to struggle."