Liberty runs down the Sun in second half

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Cappie Pondexter scored 12 of her 20 points in the third quarter to spur a game-changing 34-10 run for the New York Liberty in their 78-68 win at the Prudential Center. Leilani Mitchell added 16 points, nine rebounds, and five assists off the bench, and Kara Braxton had 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, the latter tying her career high. For Connecticut, Allison Hightower had 17 points and five assists, and Kara Lawson had 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Tina Charles was held to seven points on 3-17 shooting and four rebounds. For fuel, fire, desire, no actual Metallica songs, plot twists, other sorts of twists, bad screens, good screens, and getting Thibaulted, join your intrepid and itchy blogger after the jump.

Good evening, loyal readers! Your intrepid blogger comes to you from the Prudential Center, where the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun face off again, because it's been so long since we've seen them.

I don't know why we got stuck with a rendition of "God Bless America", but that guy was better than the choir who did the anthem. If you're a choir, you should generally have something that vaguely resembles harmony, and these guys didn't. They also didn't take advantage of the ways you can use a choir to create vocal effects. Everyone sang everything at once.

We are watching men on pogo sticks at halftime. Really. This is my life. I suppose we should count ourselves fortunate that we're only down 33-24, given the way we're throwing the ball to Connecticut. I don't know how many steals Kalana Greene has, but it's got to be a lot. The Sun are playing the passing lanes well, and Kara Braxton keeps leaving shots short.

Cheryl Ford is not with the team. I don't know where she is. I also don't know where Mama Taj got that skirt, but it's not a good look. She looks like she's got a bustle. Mama Taj don't need no bustle.

There are four rows of Connecticut fans behind their bench. Good on them for coming down.

Someone has a modern custom 50. I can't see the name on the back, but throw"forwards" amuse me. (In fact, she is on the train with me right now.)

Well, that was the clichéd tale of two halves, wasn't it? The electicity in the building after Cappie hit the jumper to give the Liberty the lead was amazing. It's been a long time since I've seen a Liberty team with that much heart pull together a second half like that. The second-half numbers are surreal: three turnovers (after 13 in the first half), 54-35 split... wow.

Ashley Walker stuffed Cappie Pondexter twice. It was moderately embarrassing for those of us cheering for the Liberty. She was a long, lanky presence, but the rim didn't like her. Then again, the rim didn't like a lot of people tonight. Iziane Castro Marques came into the game and shot pretty much as soon as she got the ball, which is pretty much Izi in a nutshell. We got a glimpse of the player that she could be with a different mindset during one defensive possession, when Alex Montgomery was inbounding the ball. Izi used her long arms and her ups to hassle the daylights out of Alex, forcing a second inbounds after Izi knocked it out and almost got Alex on the way out. Kelly Faris had a very good first defensive possession, managing to keep her feet on a Cappie crossover (which a lot of veterans can't quite manage), but got run down a bit later. Her teammates did a good job of getting open threes for her, though she was somewhat hesitant to take some of them- one possession she had three different opportunities before she actually took the shot. If this keeps up, she might be earning her keep more along the lines of Ashley Battle or Kalana Greene than Renee Montgomery. Mistie Bass did what Mistie Bass does: mixed it up in the paint for rebounds, took open jumpers, set screens, and wore the look of "this is the most embarrassing experience in my life" when Maddie's Soul Train just happened to be doing the Twist.

Tan White rocked the preppy look tonight. Strangely enough, the sweater-vest look suits her.

Allison Hightower was very fond of the little push shot- she must have had four or five of them, with three or four of them going in. When she's on, she's so much fun to watch. When she's off, Brick City has new construction material. I do wonder if some of her offensive production is coming at the expense of her defensive energies; she didn't seem to be as intense on the ball as she usually is. That's the usual exchange, though, and with White and Montgomery out, Connecticut needs offense from her more than defense. Kelsey Griffin showed a knack for positioning. She's never going to be the first option on a play unless a lot of misdirection is involved, but she does a good job of getting in the right place to be a bailout. She's like a security blanket, sort of. The screen she set on Alex was not the brightest thing she's ever done in her life- it seemed rather frustrated. I can understand a Sun player's frustration in that second half. Tina Charles was facing constant pressure all night, either from a single big like Kara Braxton or Kelsey Bone, or by a 4 and help (the duo was Plenette and Leilani on one play, for example). She never really got comfortable, and she never got going, and I think the defense was in her head. Kara Lawson abused Leilani on defense a couple of times, but got sloppy with the ball and fumbled at inopportune times (inasmuch as there is an opportune time to commit an unforced turnover). Kalana Greene played the passing lanes really well, but we all know that defense is her calling card. She mostly disappeared in the second half.

Alex Montgomery got her bell rung on that Griffin screen, but seemed to come out of it no worse for wear- she was out a couple of possessions but got right back into the game. She was all over the boards, though she would probably have hit double figures in that regard if she stopped setting the ball and managed to hold on to it. I think there were at least three possessions where she batted the ball and it ended up in a Sun player's hands. You have to love the hustle, though. Kelsey Bone wasn't quite the beast on defense that Kara Braxton was, but she brought the physical edge that we needed from her. I'd rather she picked up boxing out tips from Plenette rather than that bizarre jackknifing kick Plenette adds to her shot, but it is what it is, and I'm not about to argue with either of them. Leilani Mitchell had a buzzer-beater called back in the first quarter- and the first thing she did in the second was can a three, as if to say "fine, you're going to have to count this one!" And in the second half it was like she found another gear. Suddenly her hands were everywhere. Suddenly she wasn't having as much trouble keeping Lawson in front of her. And then she was raining threes like she was Erin Thorn or something. Toni Young had a gorgeous stuff in the third quarter, but she's got to work on her shooting form; barring that, she's got to work on her ability to get on the offensive boards. She can't be missing those chippies if she's going to be a big part of Laimbeer's plans, and she definitely can't ignore the glass if she think she's going to be a 4 on this level.

Congrats to Katie Smith on passing La Leslie! I am always in favor of someone doing things better than Lisa Leslie does. She brought the defense, and her veteran savvy showed in sideline plays (though there was that one fumble on the sideline, the ball trickling right through her legs, that reminded me of another Smith). Her twisting lay-up in the fourth quarter got the crowd going. Much to my surprise, I'm really starting to like Katie. She seems to fit with the quirky vibe that all the best Libs have. Kamiko Williams was all right- nothing to write home about. But she'll be all right one of these days. Plenette Pierson was tough on the boards- even if she didn't come down with the rebound, she was boxing out to make sure a Liberty player did. The moving pick was not the smartest thing she's ever done, but she does tend to do stupidly aggressive things sometimes. It happens. Kara Braxton could have been both the hero and the goat of this game. In the first quarter, she was about the only Liberty player who had any kind of vague interest in knowing what a rebound was. She rebounded ALL the things. And I can't say enough about the defensive pressure she put on Charles. That alone might have won us the game. But her shooting was horrible and she kept leaving shots short. I also cannot abide a player who dawdles in the backcourt to get air. If you're a professional athlete, this is what you're paid to do. Get your tush over that halfcourt line and get in position to help your team. No, seriously, there was a possession in the first half where she got the rebound, outleted to a teammate, and stood in the backcourt. Your dashing reporter believes that she got popped in the mouth, a report I can neither confirm nor deny from my own two eyes. Cappie Pondexter was a non-entity in the first half. One field goal, woeful shooting, bad passes- and then the third quarter started, and by the end of the third she had 14 points and the arena was rockin' and a-rolling, reelin' and a-rocking.

The second-half run, from the middle of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth quarter, was a trip, and I mean that in the best possible terms. The start of the third quarter had more intensity than that hot mess of a first half, but Connecticut was still pretty much matching basket for basket, the lead bobbing between 9 and 11. Then the switch was flipped. The defense stepped up and spurred the offense. Cappie's fadeaways started fading in. Everything clicked. It was glorious.

Mistie Bass's dad was there. Maddie persuaded him into a little Twisting. This is when Bass put on the "embarrassed for all eternity, OMG" face and muttered something to Hightower. I don't know what it was- for all I know, it was the play two or three possessions later where Hightower shot it off the glass and Bass was there for the putback. Sometimes I wonder if Bass gets tired of people treating her dad like a big deal.

Props to the woman in the Detroit Shock shooting shirt. Well, we do have your coach and a whole passel of your players. Welcome aboard.

Officially sanctioned "Caption This"! They dug up a couple of Pistons photos of Laimbeer and asked Liberty players to caption them. One was of him in facemask and uniform, pointing forebodingly towards the camera; the other was of him swaggering in his jersey during Shooting Stars, or whatever they're calling it these days. For the first, everyone pretty much went with "I'm coming for you!" (or "I'm gonna git you sucka!", according to Cappie); my favorite was Alex's, who proposed that he was cueing a teammate to follow his screen. I think it says a lot about her style of play that she assumed he was helping a teammate instead of threatening an opponent. For the second, the responses were pretty much "look at me!" Katie proceeded to describe in detail "the toned arms, the chiseled physique". Plenette started singing, "I'm too sexy for my shirt..."

I keep forgetting how deep Kara Braxton's voice is.

I've been seeing more and more people in St. John's gear at games. It's nice to see the crossover, but I keep feeling like someone did not get around to mentioning that Shenneika got cut.

More towels! More schedule pens! Swaaaaaaaaag.

That was a heck of a game. A lot of fun, though it got a little tense in the fourth quarter when the Liberty started stalling. Can we not with the stalling? Las Danielle won't have with it on Sunday.

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