In their last game before a month-long hiatus for the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, the New York Liberty defeated the expansion Atlanta Dream 86-76 at the Philips Arena on Sunday afternoon. With the victory, New York, the youngest squad in the WNBA, raised its record to 15-10 with nine games remaining in the regular season.
As has been the case all season, the Liberty were led by the inside-out combination of Janel McCarville and Shameka Christon, who scored 22 and 24 points respectively.
Following an emotional last-second victory over the Los Angeles on Friday night, New York started Sunday's matinee off quickly, as Loree Moore hit a 22-foot three pointer just 20 seconds into the game to set the tone for her squad.
In fact, the Liberty thrived off the three all game long, shooting 10-for-23 from behind the arc. Leading the charge was Lisa Willis, who hit three treys in the first half alone to help her team stake a 44-43 lead after the first 20 minutes of play.
After a high-scoring first half in which New York scored 22 points in each of the first two quarters, both teams started focusing more on defense, with each limiting the other to just 13 points in the third quarter.
Up by one with 10 minutes remaining, the Liberty took charge, outscoring Atlanta 29 20 to take control of the game. Fittingly, it was New York's two stars, McCarville and Christon, who led the team down the stretch, combining for 19 points in the fourth quarter alone to give New York it 15th victory of the year.
The victory over Atlanta featured several splendid individual performances.
McCarville notched a double-double in the contest, scoring 22 points along with 10 boards. She shot an impressive 8-for-12 from the field, while adding an assist and a pair of steals along the way.
Christon, the team's leading scorer averaging over 16 points per game, recorded her 24 points by shooting 8-for-8, while going 3-for-8 from down town. The high scoring guard also chipped in with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
Two other players finished the night in double figures, as sharpshooter Willis notched 11 points while Cathrine Kraayeveld recorded 10. Willis finished one shy of tying her career high by notching five rebounds, while Kraayeveld also recorded five boards, in addition to four steals and an assist.
Dynamic point guard Loree Moore tied her career-high with nine assists, while committing only three turnovers. While she didn't score a point after hitting the first bucket of the game, she finished the night with four rebounds.
Despite all the positives, New York did not come away from the game unscathed, as Tiffany Jackson injured her right ankle early in the final quarter and had to be helped off the court.
Luckily for the Liberty, their most serious injury of the season to date comes before the month long vacation, giving Jackson weeks to recover.
With a 15-10 record, the Liberty are closing in on first place in the East, just below the Detroit Shock and Connecticut Sun. Within striking distance of its two biggest conference rival, New York is poised for a run at the Eastern crown once the team from the break.