At halftime, Bill Laimbeer warned his team, "You better watch out." He had seen the San Antonio Stars begin to push the tempo against the Liberty and get some easy baskets. Midway through the third quarter, all the Liberty could do was watch as the Stars went on a 21-3 run to close the quarter and put the game away, eventually winning, 87-75, Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Liberty (2-5) committed six turnovers during the fateful stretch, allowing the Stars (4-4) to turn steals into fast-break baskets and a 53-51 deficit into a 16-point lead.
Danielle Adams scored eight during the run, burying a three-pointer and making a shot on a nifty spin in the paint. A midcourt strip and breakaway layup by Jia Perkins just before the buzzer made it 72-56.
"I saw some lackadaisical effort with the basketball," Laimbeer said of the third quarter. "We threw the ball all over the gym. What was disappointing is we put our heads down. We have to be mentally stronger."
He also said center Tina Charles, who led the Liberty with 11 points and seven rebounds, needs to stay in the post on offense.
"That's how we're structured. That's why she's here," Laimbeer said. "She floated around [Thursday night]. That can't happen."
Charles agreed, saying she tends to drift away from the basket because she'd done it in previous years. "But," she said, "he's the head guy, so whatever he says goes."
The Liberty shot 48 percent from the field but committed 21 turnovers. San Antonio had five players in double figures, led by Sophia Young-Malcolm, who scored 18 points and shot 8-for-9.