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Liberty-Dream Preview

Jul 31, 2009 - 4:51 PM By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN STATS Senior Writer

New York (6-11) at Atlanta (9-10), 7:00 p.m. EDT

The New York Liberty's dismal season cost Pat Coyle her job as coach.

One day after Coyle was dismissed, Anne Donovan will make her coaching debut with the sliding Liberty when they visit the Atlanta Dream on Saturday night.

The Liberty (6-11) lost their third straight home game Thursday, falling 78-75 at home to Washington. New York trailed 34-12 after one quarter.

The club announced Friday that Coyle's tenure was over. She joined the franchise as an assistant in 1998, and took over as head coach in 2004, but never led the Liberty past the Eastern Conference finals.

"We thank Patty for her contributions to the New York Liberty over the past 11 seasons; I have great personal and professional respect for her," general manager Carol Blazejowski said. "However, at this time I decided that a change was in the best interests of the team."

Donovan was named interim coach. She has previous experience with Charlotte and Seattle, leading the Storm to their lone WNBA crown in 2004.

New York has never won a title.

The Liberty are beginning a five-game road trip after an 0-3 homestand. They are on their third three-game losing streak of the season, and are averaging an Eastern Conference-low 73.1 points this year.

New York is 3-0 against Atlanta this year and 6-0 all-time.

But the Dream enter off a 106-76 win over Phoenix on Thursday in which they scored the game's first 15 points, outscored the smaller Mercury 46-30 in the paint and led by as many as 45 points.

"We jumped on them early and that gave us the confidence we needed," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. "We've got long arms, big players and we can run the floor. I knew before the season what type of team we have. Tonight, it just came together."

It's a bit of a surprise that Atlanta's size advantage hasn't paid dividends against New York this year. The Liberty own the worst rebounding margin in the WNBA at minus-6.3 per game.

How New York's Janel McCarville and Cathrine Kraayeveld can cope with Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle and Erika DeSouza inside should be a key to this matchup. Lyttle had 12 points and 15 rebounds on Thursday and DeSouza added 14 boards.

"It was a statement game for us," Lyttle said. "We had to come out and make a point to start the second half of the season. We had the mind frame of what we wanted to do and got it done."

McCarville has struggled through a poor season, but broke out of her slump for a season-high 28 points in Thursday's loss. She averaged 7.0 points in her previous three games.

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