Bill Laimbeer tried to provide fair warning to his team, insisting the Indiana Fever was going to be pumped up to avenge last week's loss. It didn't take long for the Fever to prove the Liberty coach was right.
Doomed by a sluggish effort at the game's outset, the Liberty trailed wire-to-wire and succumbed to the Fever, 80-63, at Madison Square Garden Friday night.
"We harped on it the last three days and we didn't come out of the locker room with the intensity necessary to match theirs," Laimbeer said. "Anybody could see in that game, they were playing much harder than us at the start of the game and they took a big lead. As coaches, it gets a bit trying. So we are going to have to re-emphasize a lot. We are being exposed. There's no question about that."
Tanisha Wright led the Liberty (3-3) with 12 points. She shot 5-for-6 but had five turnovers. Brittany Boyd and Sugar Rodgers had 11 points each for the Liberty, which shot 37.1 percent from the floor and 26.7 percent from three-point range.
Maggie Lucas paced the Fever (3-4) with 23 points and Marissa Coleman added 16 points and seven assists.
The Liberty trailed by as many as 20 points and trimmed a 15-point halftime deficit to seven by the third quarter. The Liberty trailed 70-63 with 6:24 remaining before Indiana closed out the game with a 10-0 run.
The Fever apparently had its mind set on ensuring there wouldn't be a repeat performance of the June 9 game between the teams, also at MSG, in which the Liberty used a 20-4 third-quarter run in an 86-79 win.
Liberty forward Tina Charles capped a rough first-quarter stretch by picking up a pair of fouls in 17 seconds. She was forced to watch from the bench while Indiana rattled off a 21-10 spurt that gave the Fever a 32-12 lead after the first quarter. Indiana led 48-33 at halftime.
But the Liberty couldn't climb out of that hole, was unable to finish off its four-game homestand in style and will have to find a way to achieve the necessary cohesiveness on the road.
Other than a June 28 date with the Los Angeles Sparks, five of the Liberty's next six games are away from the Garden.
"I'm hoping going on the road is going to help our frame of mind," Laimbeer said. "Right now, I think we are a tad shaken."