WNBA Report: Pondexter's Big Day Stops Streaks on Atlanta and Her Liberty
NEW YORK – The New York Liberty started a critical five-game homestand by rallying for an 85-78 victory over the Atlanta Dream Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in the WNBA.
Fittingly, it was Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter, who shined brightly on the day that fans received a bobblehead with her likeness.
She led five players in double figures with 23 point on an efficient 7-of-8 shooting from the field. Pondexter added eight assists for the Liberty, who stopped a five-game losing streak.
Many of her assists went to former Georgetown star Sugar Rodgers (13 points), Alex Montgomery (12), Tina Charles (12) and Plenette Pierson (11).
Rodgers tied her season-high by making three 3-pointers. She drained one in each of the first three quarters.
It was a balanced effort for the Liberty, who finished with 15 assists on their 25 baskets. Also, in winning for the first time in two weeks, New York (4-10 overall) placed five players in double figures for the first time this season.
The Liberty’s strong second half performance ended Atlanta’s franchise-record tying six-game winning streak. Atlanta fell to 9-4 overall.
“I like having the ball in my hands whether it's scoring or getting my teammates involved,” Pondexter said. “Today was a dogfight. Atlanta is the No.1 team in the East and this was a good game for us to win tonight.
"This one is worth celebrating. They’re a tough team and we know that if we’re able to beat them, then we should be able to beat anybody. That’s a mindset we have to have going forward.”
Pondexter was the ultimate finisher in this game as she scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. She scored five straight points on a 3-pointer and a layup to put the Liberty ahead, 67-60 with 7 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.
Pondexter and the Liberty really got going after they fell behind, 40-29, with 2:45 remaining before halftime.
The entertaining and dominating 29-6 run they unleashed over a 10-minute stretch was the centerpiece of the Liberty’s victory. The burst featured contributions from everybody on both ends of the floor during the run that bridged the second and third quarters.
The blitz started with a Charles jumper that helped the Liberty close the first half by scoring the final nine points to trail, 40-38, at intermission. During the first eight minutes of the third quarter, the Liberty rocked the Garden and staggered the Dream by scoring 18 of the quarter’s first 25 points. Pondexter’s basket with 7:27 remaining in the third quarter gave the Liberty their first lead of the game, 44-42. New York never trailed again.
During its game-changing burst New York’s defense forced five turnovers, blocked three shots and made life miserable for Atlanta.
“We continued believing in one another,” Charles said. “We still have players who are still developing. Sugar did great and Alex came out attacking today. Everybody feeding off of one another really helped us today. We were tired of losing and we had that in the back of our minds today. We’re still at a point where we can turn our season around.”
The Liberty survived Angel McCoughtry’s first double-double of the season (33 points and 10 rebounds).
McCoughtry fell four points off of her career-high of 37 points established against Tulsa in 2011. The Dream had sliced 10 points off the Liberty’s game-high 58-46 deficit after rookie Shoni Schimmel, the former Louisville star, made a 3-pointer to make the score, 62-60, 45 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Schimmel finished with 10 points and Erika DeSouza also kept the Dream close with her 14 rebounds.
“We have to realize that we have to bring our A game every night because we’re going to get everybody’s best shot, but that’s a compliment to us,” McCoughtry said. “I think we lacked a lacked a little energy and focus today. This is a good loss for us to get back and get focused again.”
The Liberty return to action Friday night when they host Connecticut while Atlanta visits San Antonio Thursday night.
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