Powell, Pondexter help Liberty win 10th straightAug 20, 2010 - 3:17 AM By VIN A. CHERWOO AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- With the New York Liberty trailing the last-place Shock at halftime, coach Anne Donovan let her players know she was disappointed with their lackluster play. They responded in the second half and came away with another big victory.
Nicole Powell scored 20 points, Cappie Pondexter had 16 and New York beat Tulsa 95-85 Thursday night for its franchise-record 10th straight victory. The Liberty moved into a tie with Indiana for first place in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining.
"(Donovan) told us that she had been telling the media for the last two days that we wouldn't take this team lightly, so we had to come out in the second half and prove it to her," said Pondexter, who had just four points on 2-for-6 shooting in the first half. "We did a much better job in the second half of containing penetration and not giving them easy shots."
Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 15 points, Leilani Mitchell had 14, Plenette Pierson 12 and Sidney Spencer 10 to help the Liberty (21-11) win for the 14th time in 16 games since the All-Star break. They also tied the franchise record for victories set in 2001, when teams played a 32-game schedule.
The Liberty, who shot 60 percent (12 for 20) in the opening 10 minutes, were just 4 for 14 (29 percent) in the second quarter. New York also committed seven fouls in the second and Tulsa took advantage by making 9 of 11 at the line to take a 36-33 lead at the break.
"I thought we would come out really focused and keep our energy," Donovan said. "We just didn't come in as aggressive. The game wasn't as big maybe as the Indiana game (on Tuesday) was or the emotion behind the Phoenix game (last Saturday), so it was a little bit of a letdown tonight but the good thing was that we still came out on the winning end."
The Liberty shot 51 percent from the field, including 12 for 26 (46 percent) on 3-pointers, and 87 percent (13 for 15) from the free throw line. New York also had 25 assists on its 35 field goals.
Shanna Crossley scored 21 points and Scholanda Robinson added 16 for the Shock (5-28), who have lost six straight and 25 of 27. Ivory Latta and Tiffany Jackson had 11 points each for Tulsa, and Marion Jones scored eight in about 20 minutes.
The Shock were 44 percent from the field, including 38 percent (6 for 16) on 3s.
"We're not a very good shooting team," Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson said. "You look at them and they have people standing out there busting 3s from 30 feet out."
The Liberty hit five 3-pointers in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to pull ahead, and then held off the Shock down the stretch after Tulsa pulled within four points.
Spencer's 3 with 7:17 remaining gave New York an 80-65 lead, the Liberty's biggest of the game.
Crossley made two free throws and hit a 3 to cut Tulsa's deficit to 10 with 6:36 to go. Crossley made two more free throws, Latta hit a jumper and Chante Black a layup to pull the Shock to 82-76 about 2 minutes later.
Jones made a layup and Latta a jumper as the Shock cut the deficit to 84-80 with 2:48 remaining, but that was as close as they got.
McWilliams-Franklin had a layup 14 seconds later, Pondexter made a jumper and Carson added a layup to increase New York's lead to 90-80 with about a minute to go.
Powell had all of her points in the first half, and left the game with 8:40 remaining in the third quarter after getting hit in the face. She didn't return, but is expected to play at Washington on Friday.
Powell shot 8 for 10 from the field, including 4 for 5 from beyond the arc.
"She was on pace for a 40-, 50-point game the way she was shooting," Pondexter said. "When she shoots like that, it's hard for teams to key in on everybody else."
After Nicole Ohlde's jumper gave the Shock a 52-45 lead, Spencer had consecutive baskets and McCarville converted a three-point play to tie the score with 6:21 left in the third quarter.
Spencer hit a 3 to put New York ahead 57-56 with 4:24 to go in the period, but Crossley's 3 put the Shock back ahead 10 seconds later.
However, Mitchell's 3 with under 4 minutes to go gave the Liberty the lead for good, 60-59. She made another 3 about 1:20 later to put New York up 67-61, and Pondexter hit two from long distance in the final minute of the quarter to increase the lead to 12.
The Liberty shot 11 for 20 (55 percent) in the third. They outscored the Shock 30-15 and outrebounded them 11-5.
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