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Stat Analysis: Lynx Victory Over the Liberty Never In Doubt

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NEWARK, NJ - Just two days following an impressive road win at the Target Center in Minneapolis, the Liberty were handled virtually from tap to buzzer 86-68 by the visiting Minnesota Lynx at the Prudential Center on Sunday.

Liberty coach John Whisenant commented that his team, "Came out awfully lethargic and lacking energy." This was not an excuse but a fact. Whisenant also elaborated that given the parity in the WNBA it's advisable not to come out with anything short of your best effort. Regardless of the position.

The efficiency and Four Factors follow the jump.

                                              POSS.                               OFF. EFF.

Minnesota                               73                                         118

NY Liberty                               72                                          94

 

The Four Factors :

                                                               EFG        FT RATE        OREB PCT              TO RATE

Minnesota                                          60             16                            32                           18

NY Liberty                                           38             21                           31                            15

Defense, as Whisenant pointed out, has been a staple for his club this season. On this afternoon defense again was a big factor but on the negative end. The Liberty surrendered a ridiculously high 118 efficiency mark, largely fueled by a very generous 6-0% eFG mark posted by the visitors.

On the bright side, New York did not get beat bad on the offensive glass and had a nice turnover rate. But that’s really stretching the ‘half full’ assessment of this contest.

Added observations

Minnesota shot 8 of 18 from beyond the mark, canning five in the first four minutes of the game. That allowed them to jump out to a lead they never lost.

Cappie Pondexter had 9 points for New York. She canned 9 of 12 free throws. That is correct, all of Pondexter’s points were from the charity stripe as she shot 0 for 9 from the floor. Pondexter had looks but credit must be given to the Lynx defense that emphasized in their game plan that the Liberty leading scorer could not be afforded the offensive freedom that could put the game in New York’s favor.

Halftime adjustment.

Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve noted that the Liberty screens were causing a few defensive problems.

"We decided at the half to just go straight man with bigs on bigs and guards on guards," Reeve noted.

In the third quarter Minnesota outscored the Liberty 15-5 and held them to a 29 offensive efficiency. Suddenly an 11 point deficit at the half was 21 after three and for all intents and purposes, out of reach.

Leading Scorers :

Maya Moore, Minn. 19 points

Plenette Pierson, NY 17 points

Moore shot 7 of 13 from the floor (3 of 6 from beyond the arc) and added 6 rebounds in an impressive outing. Pierson shot 7 of 17 and had a game high 8 boards. Pierson was the Liberty’s only consistent scoring threat on the day. Only Nicole Powell with 10 , was the other Liberty player to hit double figures.

Lynx had five players in double with two of them, Candace Wiggins (11) and Amber Harris (12) coming off the bench. A good sign indeed as playoff time is just around the corner.

Really Impressed with the inside work and aggressiveness of Harris, a rookie who played collegiately for a strong Xavier program.

Sharing the ball.

Minnesota had an outstanding total of assists coming on 71% of their field goals. Liberty was not too far behind with 64% of their field goals being assisted.

The Records: Minnesota 25-7, NY Liberty 18-14.

The Liberty close out the home portion of their regular season schedule against Indiana on Friday. Their regular season ends two days later with a visit to Connecticut to face the Sun. As noted in a previous piece, the Lynx have home court wrapped up for the playoffs. The Liberty are in but their seed and opponent are still unsettled.

Former New Jersey Nets coach and the new Detroit Piston mentor Lawrence Frank took in the game at the Rock. Frank is an  astute follower of the game at all levels who shares a philosophy of yours truly: pressing full court should be eliminated or extremely limited for players prior to grade eight.

As Frank has said, "Learn the trade before you learn the tricks."

"You can say today was a statement game following Friday…I think today we were a very hard team to guard." - Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve

Player efficiencies, a discussion for a near future 'essay'.