Liberty comeback falls short, Sun get 5th straight win

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Last night, the New York Liberty celebrated Pride Night in front of 10,240 enthusiastic fans.  The team had a full week of rest since defeating the Dallas Wings in overtime last Friday.

Now, back at Madison Square Garden, the Liberty looked to snap Connecticut’s four game winning streak, while starting one of their own. The game marked the return of Kia Vaughn and Epiphanny Prince from the EuroBasket competition.

The Sun returned Alex Bentley from Europe, but also lost Morgan Tuck and Lynetta Kizer to injuries.  In the last match-up with New York, the Sun earned a 96-76 victory at home.  Despite the injuries, the young team looked poised for the task early on.  The visitors led maintained separation for the entire first half, leading by as many as 18 points.  Additionally, the Sun defense kept Liberty top scorer Tina Charles to two points at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Sun extended their largest lead to 21 points behind the work of Jasmine Thomas (18) and Jonquel Jones (16).  Sugar Rodgers led New York with 13 points, but saw no action in the fourth quarter due to back discomfort. Despite losing Rodgers, the Liberty tied up the score with 1:06 left.  Charles scored 11 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter alone.

“I didn’t want to give up,” said Charles after the game. “I just searched for an opportunity to score and my teammates started finding me.”

However, the Liberty neglected to score on their next two trips down the court. Jasmine Thomas nailed a huge 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds left to give Connecticut a five point lead.

While the Sun are clearly streaking in the league right now, there are certainly some things New York needs to improve on. On the night, the Connecticut Sun limited the Liberty to two offensive rebounds, while bringing down nine of their own. Stokes and Charles were kept in check for most of the game underneath.

“Give Connecticut credit, they played a very strong game, all game long,”  said Liberty coach BIll Laimbeer. “In Connecticut, we didn’t show. Here, we played a lot harder, but the same problems [are persistent]. We gave them all those additional opportunities.”

Additionally, defensive assignments were lackadaisical.  The Liberty allowed 30 points in the paint and 21 points off second chance opportunities. However, the overall attitude from the Liberty locker room seemed to be things were fixable. There is no panic, but resolve to control the controllable.

“We have so much potential to be one of the best teams in the league,” said Epiphanny Prince, “we have all the pieces right now, we just have to put the work in.”

The Liberty return to the road Thursday against the Washington Mystics.  The Mystics are undefeated in conference play (5-0). This will be the first time the teams go head-to-head this season. A win against Washington on the road will go a long way in proving the New York Liberty can be contenders this season.

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