New York, N.Y. -- In what felt like one of the fastest games of the season for the Liberty, it just barely ended in their favor. New York handed the Dallas Wings its sixth consecutive loss in a 91-88 showdown.
It was another slow start for the Liberty early in the first quarter, but after the first six minutes had gone by, both teams were showing flashes of brilliance. The Liberty and Wings consistently swapped leads and momentum resulting in very little called timeouts.
"I like the pace. That's a good pace, and I'm always a coach who likes to have a team that likes to run and be aggressive going to the boards," said Wings' head coach Fred Williams. "It helps us a lot because we are a team that likes to push the ball and the Liberty's a physical team."
With the help of Carolyn Swords' back-to-back layups, New York was able to get on the board after being down 5-0.
The Wings' duo, Karima Christmas and Odyssey Sims, dug the 12-6 hole for the Liberty racking up 10 of those early points. Their first quarter success was completed with Christmas posting 21 and Sims right behind her with 19 total points on the game.
A valiant effort late in the first by Sugar Rodgers, who registered her first three of the game from the top of the key to inch the Liberty closer, down just 21-19 late in the first.
"I definitely felt good coming in. I just know if I play defense then all of that will start cooking," said Rodgers.
She wasn't done there; With a little over a minute left in the first, Rodgers was fouled on a driving layup. Taking advantage of the free throw, she tied the game up at 22 apiece.
Rodgers posted a total of 18 points and was tied with Kiah Stokes for the team high in rebounds with seven.
Christmas closed the quarter with a step back jump shot nailing a three and her eighth point of the game.
Dallas had the 26-22 advantage, but Shoni Schimmel's three-point shot foreshadowed what would be a pivotal second quarter.
Shavonte Zellous turned her layup into a three-point play, after drawing a foul, to give the Liberty its first lead of the game.
Glory Johnson came off the bench for the Wings and took the lead right back firing off a three for her first points of the game.
However, two great plays in a row by Brittany Boyd put the Liberty right back on top.
The first play was a quick pass under the net to Amanda Zahui B., who completed the layup. Then, Boyd took the next one up to the net, lifting her team to a 36-34 lead midway through the second.
After Sims had hit another three, it ignited a spark in the Liberty's leading scorer Tina Charles. She went off towards the end of the second scoring 11 points in a row, including back-to-back threes.
Erin Phillips finished the half with nine, but it was those nine points that kept Dallas close behind New York. At one point, Phillips hit five points in a row to up the Liberty 50-49 lead.
However, it was Charles and Rodgers who prevailed, dominating the end of the half and giving New York a 56-50 lead heading into the locker room.
Dallas went to work in the third quarter clawing their way back into the game. Christmas' eight points helped outscore the Liberty 22-16.
In the paint, it was still the Liberty who came out on a top, scoring 12 to the Wings' 8 in the third.
Heading into the fourth, tied at 72, the momentum was on Dallas's side.
Late into the quarter, strong interior defense helped bring the momentum back to the home team.
Stokes swiped one away on Sims' pass, and Charles took advantage with a fadeaway jump shot for her 24th point of the game.
"I thought we made the big plays down the stretch," said Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer. "I thought Kiah Stokes made some phenomenal defensive plays. When they were trying to drive and draw fouls she just swatted the ball."
And that she did. Christmas tried to retaliate with a layup, following Charles' jumper, but Stokes was right there again to block the attempt.
This time, it was Rodgers who nailed the three that put the Liberty back in control of the game and the crowd. With just under four minutes in regulation, it was 82-80 New York.
Charles racked up her 26th point of the game with a deep jump shot, but Christmas fired back with a game-tying three and her 21st point. Christmas was 4 for 5 on the day from outside the arc.
Charles totaled 28 points, was 3 for 4 from the three and sunk 5 of 6 free throws.
With 1:22 left and the game tied at 85, the Liberty was superlative on the boards on all sides.
Johnson missed on a fadeaway jumper recovered by Rodgers.
Tanisha Wright missed the jump shot, but Stokes' offensive rebound alluded to two more points by Charles, making it 87-85 Liberty with just 40 seconds remaining.
Just when the crowd at Madison Square Garden thought it was over, Phillips hit her third three to try and hush the crowd.
"It's really hard that's why you have the home court advantage, and their crowd was definitely getting right behind them and making a lot of noise, and you can see them take it up to another level, and we just couldn't match it," said Phillips.
Up by just one point with about 15 seconds left and the ball in their possession, the Liberty called a timeout.
Sims fouled Schimmel out of the timeout and Schimmel retaliated by making both free throws and the final points of the game.
"Just having heart," Charles said. "There was two games that we lost at home because we lost in overtime and we didn't take care of certain things that we usually can. So just having heart and having the will to win."