Just the Facts, Ma'am: A furious second-half surge, powered by Essence Carson and Cappie Pondexter, erased an 11-point halftime lead and gave the New York Liberty an 80-73 victory over the Chicago Sky. Carson and Pondexter each had 18 to lead the six double-digit Liberty scorers. Courtney Vandersloot and Sylvia Fowles each had 14 points to lead the Sky, with Fowles adding eight rebounds.
For ratcheting up the intensity, organizational skills, a visit from the Blue Fairy, and the avoidance of caprine qualities, join your intrepid and PUMPED UP blogger after the jump.
Okay, guys, we've gotten the autograph pen sorted out, and I appreciate that. Now, can we sort out who's going out which entrance and when they're doing it?
Also, seriously, people next to me, there are maybe thirty people in our entire section to this point. You can move down a seat, it's okay. Get off my hip.
There's a lot of red in here. Cagers seem to like these weekend games, though I'm reserving judgment because the games I recall with a big Cager presence have been Chicago and Washington, which have the other recent Rutgers players who aren't with the Liberty.
At half, it's 49-38 Chicago, and it could be a lot worse than it is. There are some truly odd air currents in here, especially at this end of the floor, so I'm expecting Chicago to have more trouble with their perimeter offense. Essence Carson is back, with goggles that look more like sunglasses, and her effectiveness has been somewhat limited. Kia Vaughn is not happy with Chicago, and her temper is starting to slip a little bit, but it's all Michelle Snow's fault for kicking Quanitra Hollingsworth while she was down.
We changed seats because there was no room next to us, there were lots of kids in front of us, and the people behind us were rooting obnoxiously for Chicago. Silver lining- t-shirt! And it even says XL!
The only reason this wasn't the best comeback of the day is because of Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, but it was certainly pretty damn awesome. The Cagers who came ot this game because of Epiphanny Prince came away well satisfied with Essence Carson and Cappie Pondexter.
Dominique Canty wasn't with the team, so Erin Thorn was seeing more minutes than even her usual. She, of course, unleashed a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the team that drafted her, hitting shots late in the clock and being surprisingly pesky on defense. Tamera Young showed her... quantum singularity... tendencies, taking shots she had no business taking. She also got grabby on defense. That's not going to end well. Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton did a great job on the boards- there was a point in the game where she was the leading rebounder. If that's what she's there to do, she's brilliant at it- just as long as you're not asking her to do anything else. Carolyn Swords saw a few scattered minutes and took a hit from her own teammate. She was there to be a reserve post, and that was what she did. Remind me again why they kept Bjorklund? Really, I don't know.
Epiphanny Prince is not a point guard. I'm not sure what Chicago is doing with this offense, but one play sticks out in my mind: second half, on a mismatch, she has Quanitra Hollingsworth in front of her, while Essence Carson valiantly attempts to front Michelle Snow. Snow calls for the ball. Prince takes an off balance jumper. Snow is... not amused. She was also sloppy with the ball. I mean, personally, I really don't care about Michelle Snow's discomfiture, though, because as far as I'm concerned she can take a long walk off a short pier and keep going. One possession, she was so busy looking for opportunities to get in a cheap shot that she kept Chicago from getting a shot off. She also seemed a little more impressed with her outside jumper than she had any reason to be. Sylvia Fowles gets away with an awful lot of tap-dancing on the baseline. There were two or three plays where we were sure that she was out of bounds, but she was allowed to save the ball in to her teammates. She looked dominating in flashes- but for whatever reason, whether it be the rotation of our defense or Pokey Chatman having unexpected brain freezes or Courtney Vandersloot and Epiphanny Prince not being sure what to do with someone that tall- flashes were all she showed. Cathrine Kraayeveld got loose for a corner three, much to our protesting in the seats, but was quiet for much of the game, and it only seems meet that she clanked the shots that could have given Chicago a chance.
If we had managed to lose that game after tying it at 60, Quanitra Hollingsworth would have been the goat, for giving up turnovers and fouls to allow the Sky to answer with a mini-run. Fortunately for Q, we won the game, so I can talk about her burst of offense and play on the glass. I think we had a brief Sydney Colson sighting, but as she didn't do anything memorable, I can't be completely certain of it. Essence Carson got her glasses fixed at halftime and came out firing. When the place was rocking with the "LET'S GO LIBERTY!" chant (that started without cues, by the way, it was awesome), everyone in the building knew that she was hitting the jumper to give New York the lead. The first half had overtones of Stevie Wonder, with her shots being off and her peripheral vision non-existent; I suppose that would make the second half sheer wonder. Sidney Spencer once again stopped a fast break, and once again it wasn't even ours! Her most important contribution might have been calling the out of bounds on one of Sylvia Fowles's rebounds- she got the call right, and she influenced the ref. (Just for the record, influencing the ref is a bad thing, but it's nice to know Spencer has some use.) Alex Montgomery had a few undistinguished minutes. Felicia Chester's wearing #41, which is just disconcerting. That's a number that brings back... memories.
I hope Kia Vaughn's okay. She sat out much of the fourth quarter for reasons we couldn't understand, and then when she went in, it all made sense, because she was wincing and holding her knee. She played solidly in the first half, and made it clear to Snow that cheap shots would not be accepted. It's a pretty bad sign when you're slue-footing your old college buddies. Do not taunt happy fun Kia? Plenette Pierson started the game as the only Liberty player who wanted to score, though in the second half she had to put out a lot more energy defending Fowles and throwing down with Snow- seriously, I thought there was going to be a fight at one point, the way they were in each other's faces, and I don't think I would have minded. Cappie Pondexter joined us in the second half and came up clutch- which is all we need of her. Personally, I consider her a mercenary, a sellsword, a gallowglass, whatever medieval term you prefer; we hire her to hit shots, win games, and eventually get us a title. She has no ties, no connections, no deep roots. When her job is done, it's on to the next one. I was shocked at how passive she was in the first half. Leilani Mitchell was... let's be charitable and say highly ineffective. She was getting tape around her thigh before the game, so that might have impeded her speed, and her shots were not helped by the Winds of Destiny Change thing the arena had going on. Nicole Powell found her shot, played iffy defense, and tracked down rebounds with exquisite vision. She's often hit or miss with those, but today she was on point and on target. Her rebounding kept us in it.
We will have to say farewell to one of the GnoD's favorite running gags. I'm afraid I have to admit that Nicole Powell is not, in fact, an amazingly lifelike android. Evidence to the contrary showed up in the fourth quarter, when the Torch Patrol brought out the cards for the rallying rendition of "Gotta Get Up". As Whiz discussed things at the start of the timeout with his assistants, the team gathered together. Moving down meant I was able to read lips. Powell's were definitely going "L! I! B-E-R-T-Y!" before Whiz called the players to the huddle. That shows spontaneity and spirit I don't think a robot could manage. Congratulations, Nicole! You're a real girl now!
The crowd really got into it in the fourth quarter. There were several occasions when the only sound came from the fans, getting the "DE-FENSE!" or "LET'S GO LIBERTY!" chants going without cues from the PA. Old school. Amazing. It sounded like more people than there were. That's the kind of Liberty crowd I remember.
Some questionable officiating in this game. But at least we're not USA-Brazil.
I'm amazed at how we pulled it together. At least for the next three days, I LOVE THIS TEAM SO MUCH.