It's clear that Cappie Pondexter likes to play against her hometown team. She scored 30 points against the Chicago Sky in the Liberty's 57-54 win Sunday at the Garden, finishing one point shy of her season high - which came against the Sky on June 8. And in the Liberty's first 2010 game against the Sky, she had 22 points and eight assists.
The Liberty won all three games, with Pondexter hitting 33 of 49 shots from the field.
In yesterday's game, Pondexter scored 14 points in the final 12:14 for the Liberty, which outscored the Sky 18-9 in the fourth quarter.
Pondexter, who also had eight rebounds, reached the 30-point mark on a three-pointer with 3:51 left that put the Liberty up 50-47, its first lead since the first quarter. After the Sky's Jia Perkins tied it with a three-pointer, Pondexter hit a jumper with 2:23 to play to put the Liberty ahead for good. Leilani Mitchell's two free throws with 15.8 seconds left gave the Liberty a 56-52 lead.
Plenette Pierson scored 10 points for the Liberty (8-9), which won for the fourth time in six games. Perkins had 26 points for Chicago (8-11), shooting 10-for-20 from the field. Sylvia Fowles finished with 12 points and 19 rebounds.
Pondexter carried the team in the first half, going 5-for-5 and finishing with 16 points. "We were trying to get other people involved to make Cappie's life easier,'' Liberty coach Anne Donovan said, "but with nobody else knocking down shots, we just kept going back to Cappie's plays."
The Sky and the Liberty are two of the worst rebounding teams in the league, but control of the boards helped Chicago take a 35-26 halftime lead. Fowles nearly outrebounded the Liberty by herself with 12.
As the WNBA begins the second half of the season, Pondexter doesn't want to hear any more talk of her team needing to jell. "For me, that's over with,'' she said. "I don't want to hear about it anymore. It's about winning, and that's the only thing that's important."
Chicago is the only conference rival over which the Liberty owns a series lead. The Liberty will play eight conference opponents in its next 10 matchups. "We're going to continue to build and climb," Donovan said. "The playoffs are by no means out of reach for us."