Not even the inspired second-half play of New York Liberty newcomer Avery Warley-Talbert could prevent the Sun (5-6) from exacting revenge for their season-opening loss to the Liberty, as Connecticut downed New York (3-7) by the score of 83-75 at Madison Square Garden Friday night.
It was the relentless work of Tina Charles that kept the Liberty within striking distance for much of the second quarter after New York trailed by 16 points at the conclusion of the opening period. The Libertys centerwho was honored with the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award before the gameovercame her slow start by knocking home four of New Yorks five field goals in the second, giving her a team-high 10 points at the half. However, thanks to a sizzling 51.5 percent shooting performance, Connecticut still went to the locker room leading 46-26.
The third quarter started on a negative note, when forward Plenette Pierson was forced to the sidelines with an apparent leg injury. However, her replacement, Warley-Talbert, invigorated the sluggish New York offense, scoring six points in the quarter. With the insertion of Warley-Talbert into the lineup came improved ball movement and increased defensive intensity. An 11-2 run spanning the final 3:49 of the third quarter cut the Sun lead to just nine heading to the final period of play.
The offensive renaissance for the Liberty did not conclude with the end of the third quarter. A Cappie Pondexter and-1 opportunity with 7:15 to play marked the peak of the Libertys charge, cutting the Connecticut lead to just two points. Later in the quarter, Sun guard Katie Douglas knocked home a timely 3-pointer with 4:14 to play that stretched Connecticuts lead back to six points. New York would be unable to claw closer than to within five for the remainder of the night.
Charles led the Liberty in points, rebounds and assists, ending the game with 25, 10 and six, respectively . Pondexter contributed 20 points and Warley-Talbertwho did not sit after entering the game for the first time with 9:04 left in the third quarterfinished the night with eight points and four rebounds.
The Liberty hit the road to play this same Connecticut team this Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena.