Hot-Shooting Liberty Melts the Mercury, 107-69

New York, NY – Sensational shooting by the New York Liberty (19-11) led to a 107-69 victory over the defending WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury (14-17) on Saturday night basketball at Madison Square Garden. The Liberty have now clinched a spot in the 2010 WNBA playoffs with tonight‘s win, along with winning eight-straight games.

“Back-to-backs are tough. This is the second for us, and we have another one coming up.” head coach Anne Donovan said after the game. “We had a lot of motivation against Phoenix; the last time when we were there we stumbled. Today everyone was really focused. We just stayed with the game plan. You put your mind into it and get it done.”

The Liberty did just that having five players in double-digit scoring. Leading the way for New York offensively was guard Cappie Pondexter who had 28 points, from 8-for-15 shooting from the field. The MVP candidate was 3-for-7 from the three-point arc. Also having a stellar day shooting was forward Nicole Powell, who had a career-high 23 points. Powell who certainly powered the Liberty shot 8-for-10 from the field, and 7-of-9 from the three-point range.

“We played exceptionally well today, especially going back-to-back,” Pondexter said after the game. “Our focus is absolutely great. We really pushed the tempo, ran the ball down the court, and we set the tone from the beginning.”

Nicole Powell agreed saying, “It was a great win for us today, especially going back-to-back. Everyone is just getting better. That is the most important thing is that everyone keeps getting better.”

Coach Donovan liked what she had seen from her forward Powell saying, “When Nicole (Powell) shoots the ball like that we’re really hard to beat.” Also complimenting Pondexter Donovan stated, “Cappie Pondexter is so good, the best one-on-one player in the league. Then when you add Nicole Powell’s three against the zone, it’s a pretty deadly combination.”

Center Taj McWilliams-Franklin netted 13 points to go along with five rebounds. Forward Plenette Pierson had several nice driving lay-ups for the Liberty in scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Forward Janel McCarville rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points along with grabbing six rebounds and dishing out six assist.

Pierson had this to say of the teams showing tonight, “We played really aggressively tonight, we were able to focus our defense on the League’s leading scorer (Diana Taurasi) and it frustrated her.”  When asked about her brand of play in the game Pierson said, “I was just trying to be aggressive, go after the loose balls and hustled and it was contagious.”

Every single player on the New York bench provided a key moment, stop, rebound, and point in the victory over Phoenix. Guard Essence Carson cashed in on several great scoring opportunities notching eight points while grabbing six boards. Center Kia Vaughn had several strong drives to the net tallying seven points, while grabbing five rebounds.

“It was a great team win,” Carson said after the game. “We were able to get the stops that we needed to and really stepped up today as a team.” The guard would continue to say, “We want to make sure that everyone on the team is ready. That every time someone touches the floor that they are ready to play and come out with a victory.”

Phoenix for the most part was not the offensive juggernaut, having all-time scorer Diana Taurasi kept to five points. Taurasi did have two very nice assists in the game, but it wasn‘t a typical game for league‘s leading scorer.  Stepping up to lead the Mercury offensively was forward DeWanna Bonner, who had 20 points and seven boards.  Guard Temeka Johnson scored 14 points and dishing out four assists. Center Kara Braxton provided a strong inside post presence netting 11 points and grabbing eight boards.

New York played with heart and hustled from the first quarter on. The Liberty and the Mecca was rocking most of the night as the crowd as the 9,645 exploded with energy throughout.  Those fans are going to be in for one wild ride.

“We’ve got a lot of games coming up where we’re going to log a lot of minutes and that locker room is not satisfied,” Coach Donovan said afterward. “Our goal of making the playoffs has been reached tonight, and now we’re going to set new goals for ourselves in the postseason.”

That ride will start on Tuesday as the Liberty square off with the Indiana Fever. The 7:00 p.m. game will be a battle for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Liberty and the Fever have had epic battles in the past and it should be another battle on Tuesday night.

One of the keys to success against the Fever, “Stopping Tamika Catchings,” Pondexter said after the game. “She is really a catalyst for the Fever on both ends of the court. Hopefully we can get her frustrated and not have her score a lot of points against us. Catchings has been on a rampage in this second half, she is a tough player. She sets the tempo of the team and hopefully we can come out and be aggressive and play really well at home.”

Nicole Powell had this to say of the Fever, “Indiana is such a great team they are both tough offensively and defensively. They got some really great offensive players; it’s going to be a challenge. For us we need to be sharp and we need to be ready.  It is going to be a fight; Indiana keeps coming at you so you need to be prepared.”

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