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Sluggish Liberty fall to Sun

NEWARK -- Nicole Powell stood apart from the huddle staring up at the ceiling and shaking her head. On a night filled with contested opportunities, she had just blown her easiest shot.

Powell missed an open layup after a clean breakaway with the Liberty down by five to Connecticut with 1:40 left -- an unfortunate miscue at a critical moment that ended up sealing the Sun's 68-59 victory on Friday night.

It also served as an appropriate microcosm for a game that featured more than its share of missed shots, turnovers and fouls -- just the type of game that the Liberty (8-6) had been winning of late.

The Sun improves to 7-5.

"I wish I had a reason for why we had these mud boots on," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "We were moving in slow motion on both offense and defense."

The loss snapped the Liberty's four-game winning streak. There were multiple factors working against it on Friday.

There was the absence of 6-2 starting forward Plenette Pierson, who sprained her knee in the third quarter of Wednesday's game. There was the sudden ineffectiveness of Essence Carson, who shot 1-for-8 from the field and scored only two points.

And there was a Friday night crowd of 7,722 -- far thinner than Wednesday's afternoon game, which drew more than 14,000 -- that forced the Liberty to find its own energy.

"I don't know if it was because we've been playing all these games, all the practicing, no day off, I really don't know what it is," said guard Cappie Pondexter, who scored 11 points. "But I could tell we were a step slow."

The Liberty held a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter after a strong third quarter rally. But the team scored only seven points in the fourth and shot 37.5 percent from the field, the lowest since June 14.

"It was just not a sharp, alert, intense effort," Whisenant said. "I'm just disappointed."

Pierson, an eight-year veteran, is averaging 13 points and 5.3 rebounds this season. She will be a gametime decision for Sunday.

New York Sports