Pondexter leads Liberty to 71-67 win over SunAug 1, 2010 - 11:51 PM By ZINA KUMOK AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- After becoming the second-fastest player to reach 3,000 points, Cappie Pondexter remembered her first game in the WNBA.
Pondexter scored 24 points in the Liberty's 71-67 victory against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday, reaching her career mileston in 154 games - the second fewest in league history.
"It was a TV game against Sacramento and it was like the worst game of my career," Pondexter said of her WNBA debut on May 20, 2006, in which she finished with eight points for Phoenix. "I remember going home and crying. It was so terrible, stank the gym up. But from that day on, I've been playing definitely at a high level. It's a great honor and I'm pleased to know that my hard work has paid off."
Pondexter reached the milestone with less than 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter, giving the Liberty a four-point lead. She wasn't aware of her proximity to the record until a friend texted her before the game. When the announcer told the Madison Square Garden crowd of her achievement, Pondexter didn't nod or acknowledge the achievement.
"It was a lot of basketball left," she said. "I just wanted to focus in and get the win. That's the most important thing to me."
Pondexter made three free throws in the final minute to give the Liberty a 70-67 lead.
Leilani Mitchell added 15 points to help New York (14-11) win for the fifth time in six games and move three games above .500 for the first time this season. The Liberty also took over sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference and remained one game behind Washington.
"The other teams have been noticing, but now that we're peaking at the right time," New York coach Anne Donovan said. "I think there's not anybody that's not talking about New York being in the playoffs and doing some damage."
Asjha Jones scored 18 points to led the Sun (13-12). Renee Montgomery had 20 and rookie Tina Charles added 12 points and 10 rebounds for her league-leading 16th double-double of the season.
Montgomery said the team's 20 turnovers were one of its biggest mistakes.
"You can't give the team that many extra possessions when it ends up being a four-point game," she said.
Liberty forward Janel McCarville made a layup to give the Liberty a 67-65 lead with 1:38 remaining. Charles, a New York native, tied the score 15 seconds later with two free throws, but the Sun didn't score again.
Pondexter was fouled by Jones with 38.7 seconds remaining and made both free throws to put the Liberty ahead for good. She added one more 18 seconds later to increase the lead to 70-67.
Mitchell's layup gave the Liberty a 58-56 lead with 6:43 left in the fourth quarter. It was New York's first lead in more than 6 minutes.
Pondexter hit a 3-pointer to give the Liberty a 65-63 lead with 3:37 to go. Montgomery tied the score with two free throws nearly a minute later.
Mitchell made back-to-back 3s to cap a 10-0 run and give New York a 44-36 lead with 6:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Charles scored six points as the Sun followed with a 16-0 spurt to take an eight-point lead with about 2 minutes to go in the period.
"They were bound to make runs in this game and we knew it," McCarville said. "It's just a matter of how we responded to it. They got in, they took the lead, but we were able to fight, keep our position and not give up too much and we made the last run in the game in order to get the win."
Pondexter's jumper pulled the Liberty to 52-50 heading to the fourth quarter.
- WNBA Capsules May 21
- WNBA Capsules May 15
- WNBA Capsules May 14
- Vandersloot, Pondexter help Sky cruise to 93-70 win over Sun May 14
- NY Liberty acquire Wings' Amanda Zahui B for draft pick May 11
- Indiana trades Layshia Clarendon to Atlanta for draft pick May 10
- Minnesota Lynx re-sign ex-Gopher center Janel McCarville May 7
- Army star Kelsey Minato gets a chance to play in WNBA May 7
- Liberty trade for All-Star guard Shoni Schimmel May 2
- Taurasi, Catchings, Bird headline US women's Olympic team Apr 27
- UConn trio look to make history at WNBA draft Apr 14
- Candice Wiggins retires from WNBA at age 29 Mar 22