Liberty opener a Sun setback

The Liberty had all but hit the send button on the Thank You! note they were going to send yesterday.

The Rangers gritty trek through the NHL playoffs forced the Libs to gladly move their WNBA opener from Prudential Center, where Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals was played, to the Garden. And there, in the Worlds Most Famous Arena, the Liberty found a loud crowd, a Connecticut Sun team that was collecting technical fouls like spring flowers and a golden chance to open the season with a win.

Cut! Dont play the fourth quarter!

Too late. In a collapse that could prove to be a disheartening preview of the season, the Liberty were outscored 27-15 in the final 10 minutes and dropped a 78-73 decision. The teams play again tonight in Connecticut, where the crowd wont be as supportive and the refs slightly less willing to call three technical fouls on the home team.

I thought we could get them in here, said New York coach John Whisenant. We just hit some dry spells.

The Liberty (0-1) treated the fourth quarter like a scrimmage. They allowed the Sun (1-0) to shoot 56.6 percent from the field while the home team clanked on 8-of-14 shots (6-of-14).

There were theories for the loss, as there always are but none held water. Whisenant speculated the Sun dominated the boards in the fourth quarter, but the Liberty won the glass 9-5, allowing just one offensive board.

Leilani Mitchell suggested fatigue set in but Plenette Pierson (15 points, 10 rebounds) was the only player to go the full 10 minutes in the fourth quarter. Cappie Pondexter (19 points) was the only Liberty player to log more than 30 minutes in the game.

Pierson said the team still needs to gel. There is some validity in that. She is one of four players that led their respective winter league teams in Israel, Italy, Poland and Turkey to titles. They didnt arrive in camp until earlier in the week.

But the well-traveled Liberty players still managed to open a nine-point second-half lead and took 58-51 lead into the fourth quarter. The Sun, which got 19 points and 10 rebounds from Tina Charles and 13 off the bench from Allison Hightower, scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to tie the score at 58-58.

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(1) Liberty opener a Sun setback
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