New York, NY – On Camp Day at Madison Square Garden the New York Liberty (9-9) changed their fortunes and defeated the first-place Washington Mystics (12-6) by the score of 75-67 in Thursday afternoon basketball. It was the first time this season the Liberty defeatd the Mystics, as Washington came into today’s game beating the Liberty twice in this 2010 WNBA season.
It was an electric atmosphere at the Garden as the Liberty had 18,162 campers all clapping thundersticks and singing various songs including the famous “Empire State” song by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The campers rocked the Arena and that energy transferred to the Liberty play as the team came out the gate fast and furious, while playing hard and hitting some key shots throughout the game
Leading the way for the team offensively for the Liberty was guard Cappie Pondexter who scoring 17 points, while dishing out seven assists and grabbing three rebounds. Pondexter really took control of the Liberty offensively in the second half as she was able to net 11 points in that half alone.
“That is what Cappie does. Cappie is a winner.” Liberty head coach Anne Donovan said after the game. “She is going to take the game on her shoulders when it’s time for her to take control of the game.”
Also taking control of the game was center Janel McCarville who had a double-double scoring 16 points while grabbing 12 boards, while also going 4-for-4 in free throw shooting. McCarville netted many key buckets in the Liberty’s victory, along with key rebounds throughout, including in the 5:36 mark as she made a strong offensive move to the net and made a good lay-up to make the score 22-21 in favor of New York.
“Coach Donovan stressed that she wanted more points in the paint today and I took it upon myself to establish a low post presence today,” McCarville said after the game. “It was a good team win, they were in first place in the Eastern Conference, we needed to play our game and get the win and we did.”
Forward Nicole Powell showed off some long range shooting for the Liberty tonight scoring 10 points, while also blocking a shot early in the first quarter. It was in the 5:41 mark of that quarter that Mystics forward Monique Currie tried for an inside shot that was met by a resounding block by Powell. A three-point field goal shot at 3:14 in the third quarter to give the Liberty the 45-39 lead and to make the campers in attendance rock the Garden.
“It’s just a great win for our team” Powell said of the victory. “We are trying to climb our way into the playoffs against a very good team and everyone really stepped up and that was the difference in today’s win.” On having an electric crowd for the game, “It was great to have the campers at today’s game. When the songs came on and with the thundersticks you really felt their energy and it was a wonderful thing.”
The Mystics battled all afternoon long as there were eight lead changes, while these two teams were tied seven times tonight. One of the leaders for the Mystics was forward Crystal Langhorne who had a double-double of her own, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 boards.
“I call her the perfect 10. I just love her. She just does whatever we need her to do,” Mystics head coach Julie Plank said. “She is the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. She is totally unselfish and gives our team a lot of confidence.”
One of the keys to the Liberty victory was a strong defensive play led by point guard Leilani Mitchell. Along with six points and three assist Mitchell had seven steals to lead the Liberty defensively in guarding her counterpart Lindsey Harding, who only had 10 points in today’s game.
“For me Lindsey Harding is a great point guard, she really likes to protect the basketball.” Mitchell said of facing her counterpart, “I was just trying to keep pressure on her and contain her, she is the one that get’s that team going so controlling her was a huge part of today‘s game.”
Mitchell along with center Taj McWilliams-Franklin combined to help seal the victory for New York. Combining for free-throws and a steal. It started with Mitchell, who had two key free-throws for the Liberty at the 21.5 second mark of the fourth quarter for the 73-67 lead. McWilliams-Franklin, who ended the game with nine points and four rebounds, had the final two free-throws at the 10.6 mark along with a steal by Mitchell to cap the 75-67 Liberty victory.
The Liberty look to continue their climb to the top of the Eastern Conference Standings and a playoff push on Sunday July 18.New York will have an important home game in the Garden against the third-seeded Indiana Fever with tip-off starting at 4:00 p.m.
Janel McCarville likes her team’s chances of the playoffs saying “I think we are in a good position, you know the east is tough this year. Everyone night in and night out comes to play and I think we are in the position we’re in we are definitely in the race for the playoffs at the halfway point of the season.”