After forward Plenette Piersons first shot touched nylon and put the games first points on the board, it would become a lead the Liberty would never relinquish.
Pierson returned from a right knee strain and finished the game with 12 points as the Liberty cruised to a 88-57 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Sunday.
The Liberty overwhelmed the Shock for most of the game, as they hounded their ball handlers and relentlessly kept the ball out of post as they worked the white line defense fluidly, allowing its lowest point total this season. It was a display that showed just how far the defense has come over the past month.
We really worked together and we came together, guard Essence Carson said. We communicated and played the type of defense that coach has been wanting us to play all year.
All-Star Cappie Pondexter scored a game-high 18 points and Carson supplied 17 off the bench as the Liberty barraged Tulsa inside for much of the game, scoring 42 points in the paint and grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. With the Liberty leading at halftime, they opened up the third quarter on a 9-0 run. For the rest of the game, the Libs never looked back, holding the Shock to six points the entire quarter.
We played with more energy and our feet were alive, head coach John Whisenant said. I told the team I dont have a secret to unlock your energy box, but when you play with energy and determination we are a pretty good team. When we played the way we did against Connecticut, were not. So its kind of up to us to figure that out.
Forward Tiffany Jackson led the way for the Shock, scoring 17 points, with center Elizabeth Cambage chipping in 11. The Liberty held them to 33.9 shooting percentage, while also forcing 18 turnovers. It was the type of game that Pondexter described as a good barometer for the teams growth after a tough loss Friday night to Connecticut.
From Connecticut to Tulsa, the fact that we responded was the most important thing, Pondexter said. I think we came out and attacked the game the way we should have after a loss.
The Liberty will finish the first half of the season at Connecticut on Tuesday before the All-Star break. With the game against the Tulsa Shock in the books, Pierson believes this game will help the teams confidence in preparation for Connecticut.
We lost a big game last game against Connecticut and we have an opportunity to redeem ourselves playing them on Tuesday, Pierson said. That means a lot, especially going into the All-Star break for us to get the confidence to get rolling and get us on a playoff push.
Note: Former Liberty great Teresa Weatherspoon was honored and inducted at halftime into the Libertys Ring of Honor. The Ring of Honor will be displayed on the signage surrounding the lower bowl at Prudential Center during all home games, in the team's locker room area at the Training Center, and in Madison Square Garden when the team returns. Kym Hampton, Sue Wicks and a player voted in by the fans will be inducted throughout the season.