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Liberty loses playoff opener to Connecticut Sun

Cappie Pondexter reacts during the second half of

Cappie Pondexter reacts during the second half of Game 1 of an opening-round WNBA basketball playoff series against the Connecticut Sun. (Sept. 27, 2012) Credit: AP

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- The Liberty hasn't yet figured out a way to win at Mohegan Sun Arena, and it might not get a fifth and final chance.

The Liberty was outplayed early and outplayed late in a 65-60 loss to the Connecticut Sun last night in the opening game of a WNBA first-round playoff series. Game 2 will be played Saturday in Newark. Game 3, if necessary, will be played Monday in Connecticut, where the Liberty is 0-4 this season.

The Liberty erased a 14-point deficit and was tied at 45-45 in the third quarter before the game got away for good. The Liberty, which shot 26 percent from the field, was stuck on 45 points for 6:37 while the Sun scored 12 in a row to pull away.

"They've got more scoring options than most teams and they're hard to defend," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win on their court, and they're the Eastern Conference champions. We did that shooting 26 percent and 21 percent from the three-point line, so we're optimistic . . . We haven't thrown in the towel yet."

Cappie Pondexter had 14 points and six assists, shooting 3-for-14 from the field. Plenette Pierson had 13 points and nine rebounds and Nicole Powell added 11 points and five rebounds. The Liberty was 20-for-77 from the field and 5-for-23 on three-pointers.

"I think this might have been the worst playoff game I've ever played," Pondexter said. "I have to be smarter in Game 2. This team has been tough to beat all year. I'm still optimistic we can win and bring it back to Game 3."

The Liberty must win two in a row to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. The Sun did not lose back-to-back games in the regular season.

Tina Charles, named the WNBA MVP before the game, had 17 points and Asjha Jones had 10 points and nine rebounds for Connecticut, which led 27-13 in the first quarter. The Liberty fought back, tying it at 41 and then at 45 on consecutive baskets by Pierson.

"I'm happy with the effort," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. "We'll need to play better on Saturday."

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