NEWARK, NJ - This one was rooted in defense. Plain good old fashioned shut 'em down defense.
Granted there were the three pointers and Plenette Pierson was effective in the lane. The tenet of the New York Liberty's 87-72 victory over the Indiana Fever on Saturday was the defensive end. The possessions and efficiency follow the jump.
Indiana 78 92
NY Liberty 79 110
For the second straight game in this series the Liberty held their opposition to under 100 offensive efficiency. The significant difference was their own offensive output. After failing to crack 100 at Conseco Field house, the Liberty enjoyed an impressive showing when they possessed the ball.
The Four Factors :
eFG FT Rate OREB Pct TO Rate
Indiana 61 8 28 23
NY Liberty 56 23 18 17
The Liberty were beaten soundly on the offensive glass. A reversal of game one. On the other hand, New York did a much better job of keeping the Fever off the line. Indiana shot 5 of 10 while New York was a frequent visitor who capitalized on the trips to the line hitting 20 of 21.
More on the defense. Indiana had a strong eFG showing but the 23% turnover percentage was proof positive of the Liberty's effort on the defensive end. That defense helped fuel the offense as the 18 Fever TOs resulted in 28 points for the home club.
The Liberty defense took a little time to get on track. At the quarter Indiana had a 23-20 lead and the offensive efficiency was also in their favor.
NY Liberty 100
Beginning with the second quarter, New York tightened things up defensively. In the halftime observations it was noted that Indiana saw their perimeter defended more closely and opportunities for post entries were no longer present. John Whisenant's club simply became very disruptive on the defensive end. The efficiency numbers of the final three quarters:
Indiana 58 85
New York 59 114
While the D was in high gear, the New York offense was functioning like a well oiled machine. Ball movement, as Whisenant noted, was outstanding with 30 field goals coming off 21 assists. Five Liberty players, led by Nicole Powell's 19 points, were in double figured compared to just two for Indiana. The eFG mark of 56% was aided by a 7 of 19 (37%) showing from beyond the arc. When the perimeter shot was not there, the Liberty's Pierson did the job inside with 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting.
Katie Douglas of Indiana led all scorers with 20 points. Hey did not come easy as Douglas was 3 of 10 from three point range. Tamika Catchings scored only 2 points of 1 of 8 shooting. Both Whisenant and Fever coach Lin Dunn chalked it up to a bad day while also crediting New York's defensive effort.
"Nicole Powell did a great defensive job on her (Catchings),"Whisenant said. "When the Fever went small we put Plenette Pierson on ‘Catch and she did a great job as well."
The First Four. Not too significant at the start. Four minutes in the Fever had a 10-8 lead. The crucial juncture was following the intermission. At the half New York led 50-41:
Points POSS EFF.
Indiana 0 7 0
New York 4 6 67
Neither team lit the scoreboard up during those first few minutes. The Liberty, though, were able to increase the margin to 14 points. Indiana had opportunities but that New York defense, so strong the second quarter,. Carried through those first few minutes of the final half and ultimately, through the game's duration.
"In the playoffs every game is different, today I thought we came out and made a statement" - NY's Cappie Pondexter, a 14 point scorer on the afternoon.
"Our turnovers helped their transition. That is something we talked about and have to prevent in game three," - Katie Douglas of Indiana.