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Cappie Pondexter helps Liberty end skid with win over Atlanta Dream

Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry (35) is double-teamed by

Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry (35) is double-teamed by New York Liberty's Sugar Rodgers (14) and Alex Montgomery during the second quarter of a WNBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, June 22, 2014, in New York. Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow / Jason DeCrow

It's become a familiar feeling, brought on by situations the Liberty had become all too familiar with. Mired in a five-game losing streak and trailing by 11 to a first-place team that, two days earlier, had throttled them, it was only natural for frustration to creep in.

"It's really easy to get into that rut and get down on yourself; we've been there before," Cappie Pondexter said. "But we have to persevere, and we kept reminding ourselves that."

With Sunday's comeback victory over Atlanta, the Liberty also reminded everyone -- themselves included -- of what they are capable. Pondexter had 23 points and eight assists as New York surged in the second half to beat the Dream, 85-78, at the Garden.

The Liberty (4-10) used a 29-6 run to erase that 11-point second-quarter deficit and take control, earning their first win since June 8.

Pondexter erupted with 19 second-half points. Sugar Rodgers added 13 points, including three three-pointers, and Tina Charles had 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals.

Angel McCoughtry had 33 points and Sancho Lyttle 12 for Atlanta (9-4), but their teammates were held in check. The Dream had beaten New York, 85-64, on Friday in Atlanta.

"We're tired of losing," said Charles, whose team had dropped eight of its previous nine. "We're at a point where we still have a chance to make something of the season, so we have to get after it now."

Atlanta went up 40-29 on McCoughtry's jumper with 2:45 left in the first half, but Charles answered with a fadeaway seven seconds later, sparking a 13-0 run that carried into the third.

Pondexter put the Liberty ahead for good, 44-42, sinking a jumper with 7:27 left in the third. Alex Montgomery (12 points) pushed the lead to five with a three on their next possession. Plenette Pierson (11 points) gave the Liberty their largest lead, 58-46, on a free throw with 2:23 left in the quarter.

The turnaround, Montgomery said, started "with us doing all the little things right." Point guard Anna Cruz, with her perimeter ball pressure, had four steals, and Atlanta shot just 36.5 percent from the field.

"If we can play defense like that against [Atlanta]," Pondexter said, "we should be able to do it to anybody."

With 20 games remaining, the Liberty is 2 1/2 games behind Chicago for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

"We're still right there," Charles said. "We've failed a lot, but we're not defeated."

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