Pondexter scores 23 to help Liberty beat Storm
By STEVE HUNTER
SEATTLE (AP) – Although the New York Liberty still haven’t solved their turnover problems, it didn’t matter against the Seattle Storm.
New York overcame 22 turnovers as Cappie Pondexter scored 23 points to help the Liberty beat the Storm 67-62 Friday night for their first road win of the season.
“That’s the most frustrating thing as a coach to ever go through to see the players just turn the ball over and many of them were just ridiculous turnovers,” New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. “But our defense again is carrying us at the moment and, hopefully, it doesn’t catch up to us at some point.”
New York, which had 17 turnovers in an 87-74 loss at Chicago on Wednesday, entered the game averaging a league-worst 19.5 per game.
Kara Braxton added a career-high 14 rebounds and eight points for the Liberty (5-4), who were 0-3 on the road. New York also snapped an eight-game losing streak at Seattle, with its first road win against the Storm since 2002.
The Liberty used defense and their height to outrebound Seattle 46-26.
“They’re not very big,” Laimbeer said. “That’s going to be their problem all year long is rebounding. We knew that going in that we could dominate the glass if we put our mind to it.”
Temeka Johnson had a season-high 22 points to lead Seattle (4-5), which shot just 1 for 18 on 3-pointers and lost its second straight. Camille Little added 12 points and Tanisha Wright had 10.
The Liberty led 52-45 early in the fourth quarter before Seattle pulled to 60-58 with 1:02 left. However, Pondexter made an outside shot and the Liberty held on for the win.
“It was an ugly game, but a much-needed win for us, especially on this long West Coast road trip,” said Pondexter, who came into the game averaging a team-high 17 points per game, including an average of 20 in her last three contests. “This was one of those games we thought we could steal.”
New York played without forward Plenette Pierson, who injured her right knee in the loss at Chicago.
Pondexter scored eight in the third quarter to help New York to a 48-45 lead. The Liberty used an 8-0 run early in the quarter to go ahead and led by as many as six.
Johnson scored eight in the third quarter to help keep the Storm in the game.
Pondexter had seven points in the first half, including a 3 with 34 seconds left to send the game into halftime tied at 30-30. She was just 2 of 8 from the field in the first two quarters.
Johnson and Little each scored eight in the first half for Seattle, which led by six points in the second quarter.
The Liberty committed 12 turnovers in the opening half but Seattle scored only five points off the turnovers. For the game, the Storm scored 13 points off the 22 turnovers and committed only seven turnovers themselves.
“We did turn them over we just didn’t convert on that and shot the ball poorly,” Storm coach Brian Agler said.
Tina Thompson had just three points for Seattle. She shot 1 of 8 from the field, including 1 of 6 on 3’s. Johnson was 0 of 4 from long range.
“Most of the shots that I took I actually felt like they were going to go in,” Thompson said. “They just didn’t. I just kind of had one of those clunky nights.”
Katie Smith, who played for the Storm last season, defended Thompson most of the game.
“Katie never left her,” Laimbeer said. “She didn’t get many open looks. Every time Thompson was on the floor, we had Katie on the floor because she’s the smartest defender we have. That was great _ the two oldest players in the league going at it.”
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