NEWARK - In his pregame news conference before Thursday's game against the Chicago Sky, Bill Laimbeer spoke of getting his team to sustain quality play for an entire game and not having one quarter when "we're the worst team in the league."
Apparently the message didn't get through to Laimbeer's players. The Sky rode a hot-shooting first quarter to a 75-55 win over the struggling Liberty (6-9) in front of 12,858 at the Prudential Center.
The Liberty, which has lost five of its last six games, usually struggles in the third quarter. It was a bad first quarter that made the difference this time.
How bad was it? The Liberty committed six turnovers, including four on its first five possessions.
The Sky shot 12-for-17 from the field, including 5-for-6 from three-point range for a 34-11 lead. The Sky scored the first 13 points of the game.
"We have an issue where we just have quarters where we blank out, we don't do anything appropriately, we don't execute on offense, we turn the ball over and we get frustrated," Laimbeer said.
The Liberty outscored the Sky 44-41 the rest of the way, but the damage was already done.
"We turned the ball over. The first couple of possessions they made shots, so we found ourselves at the first timeout down 9-0," Cappie Pondexter said of the first quarter. "From that point it kind of went downhill."
Kelsey Bone was one of the few bright spots for the Liberty. The 6-4 rookie forward finished with 11 points, shooting 5-for-8, and had eight rebounds. Plenette Pierson added 11 points and Pondexter had nine points, shooting 2-for-11.
It was the third double-figure scoring effort in five games for Bone, who had 10 points and nine rebounds in the Liberty's loss to Indiana on Saturday.
"I'm getting a little bit more time and becoming a little bit more consistent, but I just want my team to win," Bone said. "Right now we're struggling."
Laimbeer, who has started Bone at times this season, noted some of her rookie mistakes but has otherwise been impressed.
"Overall I think she's progressing fairly well," the coach said.
Elena Delle Donne had 23 points and six rebounds and center Carolyn Swords, starting in place of Sylvia Fowles (ankle), chipped in 12 points for the Sky (11-4).
Dealing with Delle Donne was an issue for the Liberty. The 6-5 rookie shot 8-for-13 from the field, including 3-for-5 on three-pointers.
"She can shoot. There's no question about that," Laimbeer said. "When you're 6-5 and have a perimeter game like that you're going to be successful."