for this game

Liberty clinch playoff berth with win over Sky

Aug 20, 2007 - 12:42 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- The New York Liberty clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the Chicago Sky, 58-52, on Sunday.

The Liberty (16-18) needed a win to qualify for the playoffs after the Washington Mystics beat the Connecticut Sun, 76-74, before New York took the court on Sunday. With the pressure on, the Liberty rose to the occasion, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

"It's about us, and it's about us getting the job done," Liberty coach Pat Coyle said. "I'm really proud of our players. Being such a young team that's in this environment, we could've easily had it go the other way. They stuck together. Shameka (Christon) and Janel (McCarville), all of them, down the stretch made the plays to get us into the playoffs."

Both the Mystics and the Liberty finished the season with the same record, but New York won three of the four matchups during the regular season to hold the advantage in the head-to-head tiebreaker.

"Our backs have been up against the wall for about three weeks now," Coyle said. "We just made the plays that we had to make to get here. I couldn't be more proud of a group of young women than I am of this team."

The Liberty will face the Detroit Shock on Friday in Game One of the best-of-three series. The Shock, who are the reigning WNBA champions, finished with the league's best record at 24-10 but split the season series, 2-2, against the Liberty.

The Sky (14-20) shot just 20 percent (8-of-40) from the field in the first half as the Liberty took a seven-point lead into the locker room.

Chicago responded by outscoring New York, 24-10, in the third quarter to take a 45-38 lead into the fourth.

Strong low-post play by Cathrine Kraayveld, who had 12 points and nine rebounds, helped pull the Liberty back within one point before Shemeka Christon hit a 3-pointer to put New York back on top with 5:58 left in the game.

The Liberty extended their lead to 53-50 with 1:42 left when Christon hit a fadeaway jumper before Kraayveld drove the lane and hit an underhanded layup to give the Liberty a five-point lead with just under a minute to play.

Christon, who finished with 15 points, iced the contest with a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left.

When I shoot I don't think about it," Christon said. "My teammates got me the ball I shot it and it went in.

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