The New York Liberty easily defeated the San Antonio Stars 73-45 to remain atop the East Wednesday night.
New York hoped to bounce back after a tough loss in Tulsa Saturday. They ended a four-game win streak and saw the worst performance of the season from guard Epiphanny Prince.
The Liberty came right out of the gate Wednesday and put up points. The early lead proved too much for the Stars to overcome. As a result, New York controlled the game, going into halftime with a 27-18 lead.
"We got thumped," said Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes. The beat us in every way possible. We did not play well. New York is a good team. It's not about us not playing well as much as you've got to give them some credit. They're a good team. They're playing good."
The Liberty seemed to miss a step coming out the half. They committed six turnovers in just nine possessions. Meanwhile, San Antonio sparked a breath of life. Their defense forced key turnovers. Led by Kayla McBride, the Stars shrunk the lead to 12. McBride hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter alone.
Unfortunately, McBride's efforts could not turn the tides. Despite forcing turnovers, San Antonio was unable to put enough points on the board and close the gap. New York took advantage and buried the game. Tina Charles led the Liberty with 18 points and five rebounds.
"It was a great team win," said Charles. "I don't think there are any numbers jumping off the stats sheet, but it was just a great team win."
McBride led the Stars with 11 points and five rebounds. She's going to need some help if San Antonio wants to clinch the final playoff spot in the West. They continue their homestand hosting Minnesota on Friday and Los Angeles on Sunday.
New York didn't need her to win this one, but Prince did not have the comeback game she hoped. Prince recorded just 10 points and three rebounds. The Liberty need her to find her rhythm as the postseason approaches. Candice Wiggins and Brittany Boyd had solid games off the bench. They combined for 18 points and seven rebounds.
A big focus for New York has been to create team chemistry and keep everyone involved as the postseason looms.
"We want to challenge each other to get better," said Charles. "The other day at practice Tanisha (Wright) made a note that we need to keep challenging each other to get better throughout the duration of the season. So that is what we are doing."
New York plays their best when they create opportunities. This matchup was all about the Liberty playing solid defense, forcing turnovers and making plays on the offensive end.
"That's who we are," said Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer. "We are the No. 1 team in the league on defense, field goal percentage against and No. 1 in points against. That's what we talked about before the game, let's get back to our roots of what our team is about and that is defense."
Their defensive front combined with the offensive attack will be tough to compete against in the postseason. New York hosts Atlanta Friday night and then travels to Indiana to face the No. 2 team in the East on Sunday.