Sun holds off Liberty

USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Liberty contested, but the Sun held strong, and Connecticut took the back end of the home-and-home series 76-72. All five Connecticut starters put up double figures, led by the 14 points of Katie Douglas. Kelsey Griffin, in the absence of Chiney Ogwumike, got the start and added 12 points and nine rebounds. For New York, Cappie Pondexter had 21 points and five assists. For freebies, unabashed affection, unfortunate implications, friendliness, a lack of funds, traffic jams, and jigsaw pieces without a puzzle, join your intrepid and indescribable blogger after the jump.

Happy Father's Day, blogosphere! Your intrepid blogger is possessed of a very understanding father, so it was off to the casino for round-I've-lost-count-but-entirely-too-many of the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun. (For the record, I got him a gift card, a bag of chocolate, an Italian soccer tumbler, and dinner at a lovely French restaurant last night. I love my daddy, even if he likes to make jokes about the WNBA.)

Didn't lose any money! Of course, that's because I didn't have any money to gamble with. But at least I didn't lose anything!

Very strong gospel anthem, though she messed up a couple of the words and really over-stylized the end (which are both pet peeves of mine- the words are on the screen, how hard is it to get them right?)

This was a game of "so close, and yet so far". There were a few places you could look to find the shortcomings in the Liberty, but this was one of our better games. I still think we should have been able to beat a Connecticut team that was going with both Allison Hightower and Chiney Ogwumike, but at least team cohesion seems to have improved.

This might have been the best game I've seen Danielle McCray put up in the WNBA. She was strong and solid defensively, and she finished at the rim to take advantage of every opportunity she got. Kayla Pedersen gave a fair amount of time at the four, with good boxouts and tough defensive play. They weren't asking her to be a huge offensive contributor, just to play the role of Kelsey Griffin while Kelsey Griffin got the start, and she did that to a T. Kelly Faris played briefly in both halves, and while she got a huge hand from the crowd, she did nothing of note on the court. Kelley Cain hit people. And then she complained about getting called for the foul after she pancaked someone. Kelley, if you smoosh someone, and they call you for a foul, it's hard to argue the call. Renee Montgomery has done a remarkable job of hitting one or two big shots, then disappearing like Susan Storm-Richards, in all the games I've seen her in. This might be why she's not getting the kind of minutes this year that she's been used to.

Fortunately for many sanity and my dislike of Penn State, Alex Bentley wasn't quite as unconscious a shooter as she was on Friday night, but you still can't leave her open from that left elbow, why is this rocket science? She has blossomed by leaps and bounds in her first month in Connecticut, and I don't know if it's just that she put in work, or if Anne Donovan has given her confidence, or if this is just a fluke, but that team is so much better with her running the show that it's not even funny. Sometimes a guard just clicks with a team. Katie Douglas hit a lay-up with her right hand, which I'm pretty sure is one of the official signs of the apocalypse. Her jumper was off, at least until the fourth quarter, but she did a decent job driving to the basket. (On the other hand, Sugar Rodgers should not be pwning you on a defensive possession if you're Katie Douglas.) Kelsey Griffin needs to quit with the grabby hands and the tripping, but I have to respect her hustle and her ability to get boards. If you can out-leap the extended arms of DeLisha Milton-Jones, you deserve a tip of the cap and then some. Kelsey Bone was solid in the middle- missed a few chippies, but that's what you come to expect out of Kelsey Bone, and the big girl did her job down low. Alyssa Thomas has such power and strength for her size that it's kind of scary sometimes. She moves beautifuly with the ball. She had a really nice defensive play in the second quarter to disrupt what was a sure Liberty fast break- poke-checked Alex Montgomery clean. She also did a fantastic job of disrupting Liberty rebounds, making sure that no one was comfortable with the ball and making sure that balls got loose that shouldn't have been loose.

Chucky Jeffery came in to play some in-your face defense and somehow ended up getting to the line out of it. I'd like to see more of her and less of Sugar Rodgers, but we've been over this ground already. Sugar showed some good hustle today and flashes of surprisingly good defense- poking at a loose ball rebound, that one ten-second spurt on Douglas- but she needs to have slightly better shot selection, or at least better shots when she takes decent ones. DeLisha Milton-Jones had the outside jumper working, but got beaten on defense. Shanece McKinney gave a few minutes in the second quarter and put up a pretty shot off the glass with Bone all over her. She might have been of some use in the second half. Alex Montgomery came up big- not necessarily on offense, but defensively and on the break. I'd like to see her really develop her jumper so she can be more of an offensive weapon, but she's had a good last couple of games, and she and Cappie have hooked up for a couple of nice plays in each of the games against the Sun.

Plenette Pierson did not dress for this one. Well, I mean, she was wearing clothes, and they looked like nice clothes. Thank all that's sweet and holy Cappie didn't dress her... Sorry, that was petty of me.

Essence Carson, I can't even with what's left of you. Essence is one of my favorite people on the Liberty, has been one of my favorite people on the Liberty in the blue era, and was one of my favorite people back when I was still a Rutgers fan. I want her to do well and I still believe that when she gets healthy she'll be brilliant. But right now she cannot possibly be healthy, and I'm not even talking about recovery from the torn ACL, the known injury and the admitted weakness. Knee issues don't make you hesitate three, four seconds on an inbounds pass. Knee issues don't send your shot so wide left that Scott Norwood thinks you have bad aim. They might lose her a step on defense, and she's smart enough to make up enough of that step, but they don't explain anything else. Avery Warley-Talbert, who lost her hyphenation through most of the game from the PA guy, was solid- unremarkable, but solid. She pulled down boards, hit shots in the lane (not as many as she should have, but enough), and played good-not-great defense. Tina Charles started hot, but the defense closed in on her later in the game, and she started taking more desperate shots. I'm also kind of tired of watching her stare at missed shots. Go for the ball, Tina. You know how to do lots of awesome things with it. Cappie Pondexter also got hit with the "let me stand and admire my shot" stick (as did Alex Montgomery), but for much of the game she was utterly brilliant. It looks like she's been getting more consistent treatment on her legs, as she'd been complaining of issues- she has giant white bandages on the backs of both her lower legs, and they seem to be helping. I could have done with more solid free throw shooting from her. Oh, and much less of the whacking Danielle McCray in the back of the neck like she was trying to combine a sucker punch and the Vulcan nerve pinch, because that's kind of counterproductive. If I wanted to get on the Cappie-hating bandwagon again, I'd point out that the flagrant resulted in a four-point possession for Connecticut, and golly gee whiz, look at the margin. But I don't think it was that kind of turning point, just a stupid play by a player who has a history of rectocranial inversion. Anna Cruz played too much defense with her hands and not enough with her feet, though at least one of her fouls was a load of nonsense- I hate the call that happens when a defender gets sandwiched between the player she's defending and a screener, and she ends up getting the foul called on her because she's forced into making contact with the player she's defending. I think the officials learned some new words in Spanish today. She started off shying away from her shot, but put in a couple late in the game, and she needs to be a little more assertive.

We're so close. We're putting the pieces together. We should have done this two weeks ago, but that's the perils of the overseas season and everyone's priorities being over there. (Since that's mostly where the money is, I don't know if I can blame them, but I can resent them.)

The officials were not popular today. Connecticut fans don't like refs, period, but they were on them from the start. There were some interesting calls and non-calls, but they made the right call on the Pondexter not-quite-a-punch.

Free ties! I'm going to ask my dad to turn it into a purse that I can take to Sun games! (My dad is awesome, by the way.)

The Dads and Daughters celebration by my Sun gave me a little bit of pause. Pregame photo slideshow: Faris, Pedersen, Griffin, Bone, player I couldn't make out but appeared to be very pale. In-game interview tape with players: Griffin, Ogwumike, Thomas, Hightower. Maybe it's just coincidence that Kelsey Bone was the only black player who shared photographs, or maybe they just got caught in the Ks, but it weirded me out.

Other than the guy who started belting out "THREE AND SEVEN! THREE AND SEVEN!" in the first half when we were at the free throw line, the Sun fans around us, in our supremely awkward position in the section behind the Sun bench, were nice. It's amazing how many friends you can make in a WNBA arena by commiserating about the officials. They were surprisingly impressed with Anna.

I know we're getting there. I know we can get there. But I don't know if we can make the changes, or if we're willing to take those risks. And at this point, I don't know if they'll pan out in a reasonable amount of time. Not with the way Connecticut's integrating their young parts, so many of which were once ours...

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