ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP)—Cappie Pondexter scored a team-high 19 points, including a pair of key late free throws, and New York held off a late Chicago comeback for a 64-59 victory on Friday night.
The win was the second straight for the Liberty (6-9) and first in two tries over Chicago.
“I knew they would make a run at home,” Pondexter said. “We showed we really wanted to win. We had to dig deep at the end and take control of the game. We had to settle down and take their momentum away.”
The Sky (8-6) trailed 61-59 following Sylvia Fowles’ bank shot with 1:23 left, but missed a chance to tie on a turnover with 48 seconds to play.
Pondexter, fouled on an inbound pass with 19.3 seconds left, hit two free throws to open a four-point Liberty lead.
“We just told them to win it on defense and rebounding,” Liberty coach John Whisenant said. “We had trouble scoring and I knew it would be that way. We missed some baskets that were easy, but so did they. They missed some putbacks. I’ll take the way it was.”
Fowles paced Chicago with 20 points, while Tamera Young added 16. The Sky shot 6 for 21 from the free-throw line and their 28.6 percent from the line was a franchise low.
“We just threw it away,” Fowles said. “We had no sense of urgency. I don’t know why. We missed free throws, 10 missed layups. We’ve been talking about this since Day 1. The coaches do everything they need to do to prepare us for the game. It’s so frustrating. This is not OK. I don’t know what it’s going to take. We’ve got to dig deep and win as a team.”
Pondexter had seven first-quarter points—including a 3-point play with 11.3 seconds left—as New York opened an 18-14 lead. Chicago hit just three of 11 free throws and went 5 for 14 from the field.
Braxton had seven points in the second quarter and closed the half with 11 as the Liberty led 38-31.
Earlier, the Sky briefly closed the gap to 33-29 on Courtney Vandersloot’s jumper with 1:33 left. Fowles had nine points at half for Chicago.
Carson’s layup gave New York a 42-33 lead early in the third. But Chicago chipped away and trailed 48-46 after Young’s putback with 2:42 left.
Back-to-back Pondexter baskets restored a six-point lead for the Liberty, and Carson hit a buzzer-beater for a 54-46 advantage.
Young scored seven points in the first 4:30 in an 11-0 Sky run that gave the hosts a 57-54 lead—their first since the opening quarter. The Liberty answered with seven straight points to reclaim the advantage.
“You hold a team to 64 at home, that’s enough to win, but we’re not a very good basketball team right now and that’s what I told them,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “It’s about toughness. You’re going to miss some shots and miss a couple free throws, but you can’t set records like shooting under 30 percent from the free-throw line.”
The Sky have lost five of their past six after starting the season at 7-1.
Chicago travels to Indiana on Saturday while New York is home on Sunday against San Antonio.