New York, N.Y. - It could not have been better timing for the New York Liberty to host the team that sent them packing just a few months ago.
Friday night, the Indiana Fever came back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since defeating the Liberty in Game 3 of last year's Semi-Finals, ending all hopes of a WNBA Finals bid for New York.
The Liberty weren't able to get their offense rolling on Tuesday against the reigning champions the Minnesota Lynx, but it seemed like Friday's rematch lit a spark.
The Liberty avenged their Game 3 loss with a 91-59 victory over the Fever.
Their offense looked the best it has in weeks with Sugar Rodgers leading the pack and nailing the team high, 21-points.
Swin Cash got the crowd going in the first with a jumper, to put the Liberty's first points on the board, but it was Tanisha Wright who stroked the three that gave New York its first lead of the game.
According to Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer and forward Tina Charles, it was Wright's move back to the lead guard role that helped jumpstart the offense.
"She knows how to organize the team," said Charles. "She knows how to keep all of us accountable for what we do and what's expected of us so having her back at the one and throwing Swin in there for all the hustle plays it was really good
The Liberty went on to shoot an outstanding 63 percent from the field in the opening quarter to the Fever's 48 percent.
It was a game of back-and-forth with nine lead changes, but it was the second quarter when the Liberty took control.
"You really have to pick your poison with this team. We weren't playing close attention to detail in their coverages," said Fever head coach Stephanie White.
By the end of the half, the Liberty continued to look like the interior defense we expect from head coach Bill Laimbeer, limiting Indiana to just 12 points in the paint, to New York's 22.
"They really leave some of the weak side perimeter players open to take away the inside game and we were able to find the weak side players tonight," said Laimbeer.
For the first time in three games, the Liberty would go to halftime with a good feeling knowing they had a substantial lead; however, you can't help but forget finishing is their Achilles heel.
Erlana Larkins came out of the half right away driving in a layup, inching closer to the Liberty, but still trailing 42-31.
The difference Friday, was the Liberty's ability to fight back after giving up scoring opportunities.
Following Larkins’ layup, Cash got those points back, by firing off a jump shot. Just when the Fever thought they got the ball back, Carolyn Swords swiped the ball from Tamika Catchings, turning it into another scoring opportunity for the Liberty.
That scorer was Rodgers, who put up her 10th point of the game with that layup, lifting her team to a 46-31 lead over the Fever.
Usually, it's standout forward Tina Charles that dominates on offense, but just as she's said all season long, she's not the team's sole shooter. Charles, who was the Eastern Conference Player of the Month in May, had 14 points on the day.
"Everything's just coming together and I know that hard work pays off," said Charles. "It will give everyone confidence in themselves knowing we can do things like this."
Tiffany Mitchell racked up the most points for Indiana with just 11. She was followed by Catchings and Shenise Johnson, who had 10.
Midway through the fourth, the Liberty's lead was so apparent; the starters came out on both sides. For the Liberty, the bench continued to rack up points, just like the starters had all game long.
Shoni Schimmel and Amanda Zahui B, led the team to the buzzer. Schimmel hit a three that brought the crowd to their feet and Zahui B dominated in the paint.
"The energy level and intensity level is what we're looking for," said Laimbeer. "If we bring that type of energy and effort every night we'll be ok."
The win puts the Liberty back at .500 before their three-game road trip. It will be a tough road ahead with five of the next six games on the road, but the momentum could push them through.