Sun-Liberty Preview

The Associated PressAugust 2, 2013

The New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun entered the All-Star break out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

Both have come out of the break with big victories against teams in front of them.

They'll seek to build on those wins Saturday night when the Liberty try to hand the Sun a sixth straight road loss.

Connecticut (5-12) swept a first-round series from New York (8-11) last year and both have work to do to get back to the postseason.

The Liberty and Sun are the East's worst teams, but are well within striking distance of Washington and Indiana for the conference's last two postseason spots.

Connecticut resumed play after the break by rallying from a 16-point deficit in the second half in Thursday's 70-64 victory over the Fever.

"It's a new season," Sun center Mistie Bass said. "We came into the second half with a new mindset that we have a chance to get in the playoffs and it's got to start today. And all of the sudden, you look up at the scoreboard and it's 50-34.

"All you can do is say, 'not again.' You've got to dig deep somewhere inside yourself and find a way as an individual to do as much as you can, and I thought like everyone did that and we came together."

Tina Charles had 22 points and 12 rebounds for her third straight double-double. Bass added 12 points.

One night before the Sun's big victory, the Liberty tightened up the playoff picture with an 88-78 road win over the Mystics that featured a 56-26 advantage in points in the paint. Center Kara Braxton had a season-high 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting and her backup, rookie Kelsey Bone, made 7 of 9 shots for 15 points and added a season-best 11 rebounds as the Liberty dominated inside.

"That's by far (Kara's) best game of the year along with Kelsey," coach Bill Laimbeer said. "Both of those players really stood up for us today in a game that was very important to us."

How the Liberty centers match up with Charles will factor into Saturday's contest. New York has limited the All-Star to 26.3 percent shooting in two 2013 meetings.

Charles, who averages 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds overall, had 19 and 13 in an 81-69 season-opening victory over New York on May 25 before being limited to seven points on 3-of-17 shooting with four rebounds in a 78-68 road defeat June 14.

Both meetings have featured strong second halves by the victorious home teams. Connecticut outscored New York by 14 after halftime in May and the Liberty came back from a nine-point halftime deficit the next month.

Cappie Pondexter is averaging 21.5 points in the season series to lead New York, which has dropped four of its last five at home.