Coming off a disappointing loss to the Chicago Sky just 24 hours earlier at Madison Square Garden, the New York Liberty looked more like the elite team that went into the five-week Olympic hiatus on Friday night in Detroit. Unfortunately, they ran into an inspired Detroit squad led by notorious Liberty-killer Deanna Nolan, and the Shock came away with an 83-69 win at home.
Nolan dropped 26 points on New York, which fell into third place in the crowded Eastern Conference standings. Meanwhile, newly acquired forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin scored 15 points in her Shock debut, and Olympian Kate Smith also torched the Libs for 14 points for Detroit, which had lost its last four games before the Olympic break but still clinched a playoff berth with Friday's victory.
The loss also marked the first time the Liberty suffered consecutive defeats since May 25 and 30 when they lost on the road to Detroit and Connecticut.
New York played a solid game in the first half, led by Janel McCarville, Cathrine Kraayeveld and Essence Carson. The trio combined for 28 points, scoring 13, eight and seven, respectively. The Liberty also relied on a three-point game that had failed them the previous night, converting four deep shots from behind the arc to stake claim to a thin 38-35 lead at halftime.
The third quarter, however, belonged to the Shock, who outscored New York 31-14. With 5:03 left in the third, and New York up 47-45, Detroit went on a 13-0 run to give the Shock an 11-point lead en route to a 65-53 lead heading into the fourth. The deficit would have been larger had it not been for Shameka Christon, who scored eight of her team's 14 points.
As they have all season, the Liberty showed tremendous heart, making a run early in the fourth with a barrage of three-pointers.
Kraayeveld, Christon and Erin Thorn hit three straight treys to cut the lead to five points at 68-63, with 7:42 remaining in the match. However, McWilliams-Franklin refused to lose her Detroit debut, rattling off six straight points to extend the lead to double-digits, creating a deficit New York could not overcome.
Despite the loss, there were some positives for the Liberty, particularly McCarville's continued dominant play. She scored 21 points against one of the league's top defensive teams and also chipped in with four boards and one assist.
Her partner up front, Kraayeveld, also had a solid performance on the night. She played stellar defense, recording a game-high four steals along with one blocked shot. On offense, Kraayeveld scored 11 points, including three from behind the arc, and pulled down five boards.
Christon, meanwhile, the team's top scorer prior to the five week hiatus, regained her shooting touch after struggling for just six points one night earlier against the sky. She scored 16 points, shooting 4-for-9 from behind the arc, while grabbing two rebounds and dishing out two assists.
The Liberty get a chance to get back on a winning track when they travel to Houston to take on Tina Thompson and the Comets on Tuesday night.
To score tickets to the next Liberty home game on Thursday September 5 against the Atlanta Dream click here to purchase online, visit The Garden Box Office or call 877-WNBA-TIX.