NEWARK, NJ - As much as we tempo-free advocates analyze and love to break a game down, there are times when a player rises above any numbers or equations to literally will a team to victory.
Last night was a perfect example as the New York Liberty's Cappie Pondexter drove (and jump shot) her club to an 84-81 overtime victory over the Connecticut Sun at the Prudential Center. Possessions and efficiency follow the jump.
Possessions Offensive Efficiency
Connecticut 85 95
NY Liberty 86 98
Possessions seem on the higher side but remember we had an overtime period, and on the evening, neither team was in a walk it up the floor mode, though Sun coach Mike Thibault felt Connecticut was guilty of that a good portion of the fourth quarter, on each possession.
The Four Factors :
eFG FT Rate OREB PCT TO Rate
Connecticut 41 17 43 18
NY Liberty 45 10 38 14
Given the Liberty's struggles on the offensive boards and Connecticut's inside strength, it was reasonable to expect New York to come up short in offensive rebounding percentage. The differential was not disastrous however. Tina Charles (7 offensive rebounds) and Asjha Jones with 6 paced the Sun. Liberty received strong efforts on the offensive glass from Kia Vaughn and Kara Braxton with five each. In raw numbers Connecticut had a slight 47-44 overall rebounding edge.
A turnover rate of 18% is manageable but when you cannot force your opponent above 14% and it is a one possession overtime game, that 18% takes on added significance.
The Liberty trailed by as much as 18 and were down by 15 entering the final quarter. The last ten minutes saw them outscore the Sun 22-7 to force the extra session. The visitors from Connecticut seemed to be stuck on four points for the quarter until Kara Lawson drained a late three pointer.
The Liberty not only had to respond in the fourth quarter. Just after the half Connecticut enjoyed a run that needed to be addressed. The first four minutes in the third quarter:
(40-39 Connecticut at halftime)
Points Possessions Offensive Efficiency
Connecticut 12 8 150
NY Liberty 8 8 100
Connecticut wasted no time setting a tone starting the second half. Danielle McCray buried a trey and Ashja Jones finished a traditional three pointer in the Sun's first two possessions after intermission. With 6 minutes to go in the third quarter it was a two possession game (52-47 Connecticut) thanks to the Liberty staying close by showing some offense of their own.
The win, a quite memorable one, was the 100th in John Whisenant's WNBA career. The Liberty coach became the tenth mentor in WNBA history to reach the century mark.
The double figure scorers and Win Scores :
Points Win Score
Tina Charles, Connecticut 29 18
Cappie Pondexter, NY 27 4.5
Essence Carson, NY 19 13
Kia Vaughn, NY 17 8.5
Renee Montgomery, Connecticut 16 1.5
Asjha Jones, Connecticut 10 -5
Some Win Score thoughts :
As much as I follow and put credence into Win Score it is obvious that 4.5 does no justice to the relative value of Cappie Pondexter in this contest. She scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined and was willing and able to hit virtually every crucial shot. No easy feat when you consider the opposing defense has a very good idea who will have the ball in a make or break possession. The Liberty faced a number of those scenarios, with Cappie getting the call, and almost every time , delivering.
Pondexter's WS was limited by 11 of 26 shooting from the floor and 3 turnovers against 4 assists. As mentioned, the formula has no area or metric to measure heart, which the Liberty guard had an incredible amount of.
Charles shot 10 of 20 and had a strong 14 board effort. Ashja Jones was hampered by a 4 of 17 shooting effort. Essence Carson had a solid 5 steals, 11 rebound and two turnover effort. Kia Vaughn was 8 of 15 from the floor with 11 boards. Renee Montgomery's numbers were limited by 5 of 15 shooting from the floor.
Final Numbers :
Attendance was 7,245
Game had 10 lead changes and seven ties. Connecticut is 16-9 while the Liberty improve to 15-11.
Somewhat of a surprise, Connecticut shot better beyond the arc than from two point range (mostly in the paint). Sun was 9 of 22 (41%) from downtown while going 20 for 60 (33%) from two. Liberty was 29 of 66 (44%) from two point area and 6 of 18 (33%) from three.