New York – Guard Kalana Greene came off the bench to spark the New York Liberty (12-11) offense in the 77-72 victory over San Antonio (8-15) in Tuesday night basketball. With today’s victory the Liberty was able to get its second series sweep of the summer and the first series sweep in the all-time history against San Antonio since 2004.
“We kept digging ourselves into a hole,” Kalana Greene said of the close game tonight. “We gave ourselves the lead and then San Antonio goes on a run, they know how to play this game to get back into it. But we reached and we executed well enough on offense down the stretch to come away with the win.”
Greene who netted 17 points and eight rebounds in 24: 30 of playing time, helped to push New York to victory in spite of another close contest. The two teams today were tied four times and the game had six lead changes. The victory was a big one for New York as they are now the fifth-seeded team in the Eastern Conference standings.
Forward Plenette Pierson who had 16 points and eight rebounds, with some of the biggest defensive rebounds of the game belonging to the forward in the game. Eastern Conference player of the week Cappie Pondexter netted 13 points, four rebounds and four assist, while point guard Leilani Mitchell had 10 points and eight rebounds. The combination of Pierson, Greene and Carson all came off the bench tonight and provided many key moments in the victory for New York tonight.
“It is awesome to play great team basketball,” Cappie Pondexter said of the game tonight. “It feels good not having to take all of the shots or force everything. I think these guys did a great job of coming in and brining so much energy. That energy brought so much pressure on San Antonio they did not know what to do.”
Head Coach Anne Donovan also liked what she had seen from the bench players saying, “I think Plenette Pierson, Kalana Greene, and Essence Carson all came in and gave us a big lift. More than half of our points came from those three and eleven boards to go with it. When your number is called you’ve got to be ready to go and the three of them were called and they, all three stepped up.”
San Antonio was led by forward Chamique Holdsclaw who is an alum of Christ the King High School. Holdsclaw had 18 points and nine rebounds in a fine game for the Silver Stars. Center Michelle Snow followed with 14 points and eight rebounds and forward Sophia Young had 12 points and five boards. Fan favorite and former Liberty star Becky Hammon had 10 points and four boards along with showing off some of her patented moves to the crowd in tonight’s game.
The Liberty got the game going on a good note building a first quarter lead of 16-9 at the 1:25 mark as forward Plenette Pierson netted a hook shot t with the assist from Leilani Mitchell. Guard Essence Carson hit a running jump shot with 31 seconds remaining to give New York the 18-11 lead. Silver Star center Michelle Snow drove to the hoop and netted a lay-up to cut the lead to 18-13 at the end of the first quarter.
San Antonio started to chip into the New York lead in the second quarter as guard Roneeka Hodges drained a three-point shot at 3:28 to make the score 29-26. Carson hit a jumper with 3:09 remaining to give the Liberty the 31-26 lead. Forward Sophia Young would cut into the lead again for San Antonio by hitting a jumper to make things 31-30 with 2:50 remaining.
The two teams would go into half time tied 36-36 as Kalana Greene hit a jumper with 26 seconds left. Sophia Young answered back with a bank jumper with seven seconds left which made the half tense for both teams.
As third quarter began with the lead thanks to back-to-back lay-ups by Young and Chamique Holdsclaw, gave the Silver Stars the 42-39 lead with 7:57 left. For the 10,712 in attendance felt like they were having a bad case of déjà-vu as the Liberty have lost games in the second half of play. Thankfully for those fans Taj McWilliams-Franklin hit a big lay-up at the 2:44 mark which made the score 54-48 in favor of the Liberty. Greene would hit a big three-pointer with 29 seconds, which was followed by a jumper with eight seconds remaining to give New York the 61-57 lead.
Hustle and heart helped the Liberty win the final quarter as San Antonio would continue to fight for the win. Cappie Pondexter hit a huge three-point shot at the 8:10 mark to make the score 64-57 in favor of New York. Holdsclaw drove hard into the lane to get a lay-up to cut the Liberty lead to 67-63 with 7:05 remaining. Pierson who grabbed four rebounds in the fourth quarter was essential in the victory as the Silver Stars seemingly had second chance shots for most of the game. Along with those rebounds a huge driving lay-up with 2:24 left gave New York the 75-69 lead.
“It is just a matter of heart,” Pierson said of her rebounding performance today. “I wanted the ball more and I wanted to help the team win so that we can continue our playoff push.” Of her overall performance Pierson said, “My teammates got me into a really good position tonight in where I could get easy baskets and attack their defense and I wanted to go out and play hard for them tonight.”
San Antonio would not quit as Roneeka Hodges continued a fine evening by hitting a huge three-pointer with 44 seconds left to make the score 75-72 in favor of New York. Hustle and heart continued to lead the way for New York as Taj McWilliams-Franklin got a key steal and two good free throws to seal the 77-72 victory.
The Liberty will next be in Madison Square Garden for another big home game against the Los Angeles Sparks who are fourth-seeded in the Western Conference. Each game and victory is vital for New York as they hope to make a trip to the playoffs this season. Tip-off time for the Liberty vs. Sparks game is slated for 7:30 p.m.
“It is a fight and we just have to keep on winning.” Cappie Pondexter said of the playoff push. “Right now we are trying to climb up that ladder. We are going to keep fighting. The team is showing a lot of resilience right now and we just have to keep working and playing hard, we just hope it pays off.” Cappie has full faith in her team saying, “As long as everyone can keep playing the way we are right now, I don’t see anyone that can beat us.”