Charles powers Connecticut to first-round sweep of New York

So this might very well be it. And if this is it, I'm okay with that. We fought just hard enough to make the playoffs and just hard enough to look respectable in Game 1. If we win, we win. If we lose, then Connecticut deserves to advance.

The Liberty and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que hosted an all-you-can-eat for Liberty season subscribers. After yet more miscommunication with the poor unfortunate wretch detailed to handle our account, we did get our tickets and our wristbands, and then there was deliciousness. I think I'm going to be oozing barbeque sauce after the fifth day of BBQ, though- we're still working through the leftovers from Connecticut! Organized, it was not, but at least there was a little bit of camaraderie.

Oh, Essence's music video! This is interesting. Hey, there are kids here! I keep thinking she's got Cappie in there somewhere as an extra. Not sure if want. At least she's better than Angel McCoughtry in that respect. I shouldn't be thinking that I want the headphones that keep popping up, though. And we immediately MST'd the "I'm Sorry" message on the Garden marquee with "your game is in another arena".

The thundersticks are uninspired. They will not be going on the wall unless we need to fill the whole thing.

I'm really hoping attendance picks up, but I think it will. A lot of the Usual Suspects are probably still loading up on BBQ. Om nom nom.

There do not appear to be any shinies in the arena. No awards for you, Libs. Not that you deserved any.

Definitely not one of the usual stable of announcers. Could be worse. We'll have a better idea when the game gets going.

There's a lot of lost-looking people in the aisles. I think they're trying to get a lot of comps out.

The girl group that did the anthem has done a Garden performance before. They were just as awful the second time as they were the first time. Please, either coordinate your outfits or be completely different. A matching jacket does not an outfit make. I'd just generally prefer if they didn't perform at Liberty games at all.

Hey! We were promised the Shabazz band. Why are there guys on trampolines in the middle of the court? I want awesome high school band music, not jumping Canadians. If I wanted jumping Canadians, I'd be watching Indiana.

The first five minutes of this game, when the Sun didn't have a field goal and the Liberty were out to a 14-point lead, were the most energetic I've heard the Prudential Center in a while, possibly ever. The place was rocking. The energy dimmed a bit when the Sun counter-punched, but it feels like a playoff game in here. 33-27 at the half, and it was a patchwork of good performances. Kara Braxton started well, Kia was doing work in the middle, everyone was hitting. The Sun seemed a little frazzled, though the second timeout stabilized them a bit, and I don't know why Thibault stuck with McCray so long when she was in over her head.

The latecomers in this game are really starting to rub me the wrong way. Why would you wander in at halftime? Either get here on time or get out of my line of sight.

And that's the end of it. And I'm okay with that. I don't know if it's that I've reached serenity or if it's that we gave it all we had or if I want Connecticut to get closer to that elusive title or if I'm just tired of going to Newark, but I'm not angry, except maybe at PATH and this train that's terminating at Journal Square.

The Danielle McCray experiment ran entirely too long this game. She missed her shots badly, she missed passes badly, and generally just looked out of place and in over her head. I was surprised he kept her in for as long as he did. He usually doesn't give her that many chances to make mistakes. Tan White brought a little bit of theatrics and a lot of hustle. Mistie Mims found herself open at times I felt were a bit inopportune, and she took advantage of them pretty much every time. She mixed it up in the paint, as well. Renee Montgomery was mostly an energy player in this one, though I think part of how she fired her teammates up was by running her mouth and throwing her body at Liberty players. Someday, someone's not going to take her behavior well and is going to send her into the third row. She had one exchange with Leilani Mitchell where an elbow was thrown- not a full-fledged "would you like a side of concussion with your headache?" elbow, but the sort of nudge you give someone when they're attempting to steal your armrest in a tight airplane seat.

Allison Hightower just finds ways to get things done. She only had the one make, but it was a beauty. She just kept on keeping on, working the boards and playing D. Kalana Greene didn't play much- she got a little shaken up early, so maybe that had something to do with it, but it might just have been that Renee Montgomery was more effective and he liked what White was bringing to the table more. We kept leaving Kara Lawson open beyond the arc for no reason I could discern, and she kept hitting shots from beyond the arc for the obvious reason that she is a really good three-point shooter. She stole away a lot of rebounds, too. The assists were harder to notice. I think Asjha Jones maybe heard the whispers that she'd lost a step and wasn't the All-Star player she used to be, because she absolutely abused us from the free throw line extended area. Her turnaround jumper was on fire. All-around, she was solid- and solid may seem like an underwhelming word for what she did, but we're talking vein of granite reaching deep under the earth's crust solid here, the foundation on which the Sun built their game. And Tina Charles topped it all off by going into full beast mode. The guy behind us kept screaming, "Guard Patrick Ewing!" and I think he was talking about her. I don't know if the comparison beyond "dominating center who mostly plays in the paint" is accurate, especially since this was a bit of an anomaly in terms of Charles actually parking in the lane, but she was quite overpowering today. She played like an MVP and a #1 pick. But we just had to have Sidney Spencer...

We got to bring out the dive cards for DeMya Walker- if she's back in the league anywhere, in any capacity, next season, I'll put up the template and you too can have a set of DeMya Walker Dive-O-Meter cards to gauge your team's ability to hit the deck. She was using her body hard in the paint, but mostly to clear space and on defense. Leilani Mitchell was not as bad as she was on Thursday, but she was still in over her head, and I don't think there's much room for her with the Liberty if Pondexter's going to be the starting point guard and Carson's going to be the starting off guard. (Or vice versa.) Alex Montgomery gave us ten unremarkable minutes, with her only shot coming off a deflection by Lawson (we joked that Lawson should get credit for the assist). I'm looking at the plus/minus here on the train, and I just don't get it. It didn't feel like she was responsible for us being -12 with her in the game. Kia Vaughn worked hard on the boards- sometimes a little too hard, with fouls of questionable sense- and I'd have liked to see her be more aggressive trying to score. But she gave us a lot, and I appreciate it.

Cappie Pondexter, you don't have to be the hero all the time. She played well in the first half, but when Connecticut took over in the second half, she started panicking and taking long shots early in the clock. And throwing that interception into double coverage late in the fourth quarter was just ridiculous. She's been asked to do a little bit of everything, and I appreciate that she didn't have an Asjha Jones like Tina Charles did, but sometimes you can't do everything. Kara Braxton started both games like someone had lit a fire under her, going to the hole at one end and snagging passes on the other- I think both halves started with Braxton getting a basket and getting a steal in Connecticut's frontcourt on the ensuing possession- but wore down and got frustrated. It was nice to see Kara get going, but she doesn't have the stamina to keep up that kind of awesome. Or the stamina to keep up that kind of anything, really. That's an issue we're going to have to look at for 2013. I don't know what to think about Nicole Powell. She wasn't bad, per se, but she had a couple of bone-headed plays in the second half that looked like they were turning the tide. It also looked like Lawson had her number the way she had Lawson's number on Thursday. I think some of the close defense got to her. I also don't know what to make of Plenette Pierson. It might have been that she was working hard against Charles and especially Jones all night and therefore didn't have much left in the tank on the other end, but we didn't get to see nearly enough of that ridiculously high jump shot or that sweeping scoop. At least she didn't seem to be in as much pain as she was on Thursday. Essence Carson kept leaving shots in odd places on the rim, but her defense was better than it was in Game 1.

Wonderful, we've got a loud, crazy, racist woman on the train. I am so glad I'm not coming back from Newark late at night again for several months.

The officiating was uneven, a surprise for a crew that included Tom Mauer and Felicia Grinter. (Then again, it also included Roy Gulbeyan.) There was one play where three players hit the floor after someone got pulled down going for a rebound, and there was nothing called on anyone. They were also letting everyone get away with the NBA's extra step, which surprises me with three veteran WNBA refs. It could always be worse, but it wasn't great.

The crowd was loud and into it for almost all of the game- we really only ran out of steam when Connecticut took over. Been a long time since a Liberty game rocked that well. Reminded me a little of those Eastern Conference Championship years. Not completely- you'd need twice as many people in the arena and a better team on the floor- but it was nice.

I caught a t-shirt! But it was a medium, so I gave it to the girl two rows in front of me. Her parents were both appreciative.

It was hard to say goodbye to all the Usual Suspects, and that's the hardest part of the end of the season. The best part of having season tickets is fellow fans and good neighbors. We'll see many of them again in college season, I'm sure- if nothing else, the Maggie Dixon Classic in December will gather everyone up again- but it's not the same. There isn't the same sense of shared neutral ground, because people cheer for different college teams. There isn't the depth of history and knowledge that comes from fifteen years of cheering for the same team.

We gave it all we had and it wasn't enough. In the end, that's all you can ask for. You can only give what you have. Good luck, Connecticut. You deserve it.

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