NEWARK - If Saturday's game was a one-on-one matchup between the Liberty's Cappie Pondexter and Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, it would have been an easy victory for the Liberty.
But basketball rarely is determined by the results of an individual matchup. The Liberty (9-13) could certainly attest to that, falling, 85-67, to the Sparks (16-7) at Prudential Center.
Four L.A. players finished with double-digit point totals. Only two Liberty players scored more than 10.
Pondexter, who entered the game fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 18.2 points, had a game-high 22 points and shot 7-for-15. Parker, who averages 18 points, had 12 points. The game was Parker's second after returning from a wrist injury that kept her out for three games.
But the victory in the battle of stars best rang hollow for Pondexter.
"At the end of the day, [Parker] got the W and I got the L," Pondexter said. "I really don't care about points. I'm just trying to win ballgames."
The best Cappie-Candace battle came in the third quarter when a Pondexter three-pointer cut the Sparks' lead to five with 5:49 remaining. On the next Liberty possession, Pondexter got her pocket picked by Parker, who tossed to Jantel Lavender, who knocked down a 14-foot jump shot to increase the Sparks' lead to seven.
Lavender led the Sparks with 18 points.
After Alex Montgomery's two foul shots got the Liberty to within five, Parker was fouled, capitalized on a one-and-one opportunity, and put the Sparks back in front by seven with 3:51 left in the third.
Parker hit all eight of her free-throw attempts in the win.
Pondexter had her next attempt blocked by Parker with 3:40 remaining in the third and the Sparks never looked back. Los Angeles outscored the Liberty 16-7 in the final four minutes of the third quarter.
As the third quarter ended, the Liberty was down by 16 -- victim of another subpar third quarter, this time being outscored 28-21.
"They went on a little run and broke our backs," Pondexter said. "We never recovered."
The Liberty found itself playing catch-up for most of the afternoon. It was in a 10-point hole at the end of the first quarter, trailing 23-13 after Los Angeles' Kristi Toliver hit a three-pointer with two seconds remaining. Toliver scored 10 of her 16 points in the opening period.