Silver Stars-Liberty Preview

The Associated Press

New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer knows his team is much more dangerous when Cappie Pondexter is on top of her game.

Another solid performance against visiting San Antonio on Sunday could help New York win a third consecutive contest while sending the reeling Silver Stars to a fifth straight defeat.

The Liberty were down 33-24 at halftime of their June 14 contest versus Connecticut, but Pondexter scored 18 of her 20 points in the final 20 minutes to help guide New York (4-2) to a 78-68 win.

"It takes 40 minutes to win or lose a game," Pondexter said. "At halftime we're down nine and (Laimbeer) reminded us it's a 40-minute game. We were able to keep our pressure up and make some huge buckets down the stretch.''

Pondexter leads the Liberty in scoring with 16.0 points per game and also is dishing out a team-best average of 3.5 assists.

"When Cappie gets going we're a pretty special ballclub at times,'' Laimbeer said. "When she wants to take over the game she's one of the best, if not the best, in doing such.''

New York has won both games since Essence Carson tore her ACL, as veteran Katie Smith has stepped into a starting role. The 39-year-old scored 10 points in the last contest to surpass Lisa Leslie for second on the WNBA's all-time scoring list.

"It's a lot of pride that you've done good work for a long period of time,'' Smith said. "You've been consistently at the top or near the top. I love this game. I love competing and playing."

The Liberty lost both meetings with San Antonio last season, though Pondexter scored 23 points in each. She's averaging 21.3 in her last four versus the Silver Stars, who returned from a winless three-game trip and lost 91-86 to Seattle on Friday.

Jia Perkins scored 21 points, Danielle Robinson had 20 and Shameka Christon added 19 in her first bench appearance as Shenise Johnson started in her place.

Coach Dan Hughes' lineup change may have had something to do with San Antonio getting outscored 49-20 in the second half of an 84-48 loss at Los Angeles on June 15. The Silver Stars scored only 13 points in the first quarter Friday, though, and committed four of their nine turnovers.

"I thought offensively we came out a little sluggish,'' Hughes said.

Perkins, the team's leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, had only 12 while shooting 3 for 14 from the field over her previous two games.

"(Friday) was one of those games where you have to find the rhythm and get things going,'' Perkins said. "I think we have to get better defensively. I think we scored enough points to win. So we just have to stop the other team from scoring more points than us."

Perkins scored 24 points in a 94-81 win over the Liberty on July 8 before Robinson's 21 helped the Silver Stars beat New York 77-66 on Sept. 18.

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