Sun rally past Liberty 68-59
Newark, N.J. - There were times during the Connecticut Sun's three-game road trip when defense seemed like a foreign concept, resulting in two lopsided beatings.
So there was Connecticut's Kalana Greene in the closing minutes of Friday's game, ready to pass out on the floor. She was completely gassed, having spent nearly 29 minutes chasing New York Liberty superstar Cappie Pondexter all over the Prudential Center.
The defensive effort by Greene and the Sun didn't go to waste. They held New York scoreless for the game's final five minutes and won 68-59 before 7,722 fans.
"I was tired," Greene said. "Down the stretch (in a game). Long road trip. Haven't been home. Sleeping in hotels. Guarding one of the best players in the league full court. It's hard.
"At the same time, we like challenges. I like challenges. And I think (Pondexter) was equally tired because she couldn't do anything she wanted to do. She was equally tired, so I figured that made it a little bit better for me."
It was just the second road win of the season for the Sun (7-5), and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Connecticut was embarrassed at Minnesota (90-67) and Indiana (90-78) during its road trip. It had bad stretches of defense in both games.
"We talked about defense, but we really didn't do it," Greene said. "Tonight, we had to play defense because our offense hasn't been winning it for us right now."
A Pondexter 3-pointer gave the Liberty a 59-58 edge with 5 minutes, 34 seconds remaining.
New York (8-6) missed its last 10 shots and didn't score again. Pondexter (11 points) turned it over three times in the final three minutes.
"I was proud of my team because we made it a point to play harder defense tonight from start to finish," Sun Asjha Jones (14 points, seven rebounds) said. "Even when they pressed and had runs of their own, I think we did a good job of sticking with the game plan.
"In the past, we probably would've been trying to play more one-on-one. We stuck with it, and that's how we got our win tonight."
The Liberty was without starting power forward Plenette Pierson (patellar tendon strain), yet they still had the momentum and a 56-53 lead with over eight minutes left. It was the result of a 20-6 run that began with over four minutes left in the third period.
New York shot 3 of 18 in the fourth quarter.
"I wish I had an answer why we had those mud boots on out there defensively and offensively," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "Not having Plenette takes a rotation post player out of us. That adds a little fatigue, but Plenette doesn't play outside and our perimeter people were not sharp, either.
"We're either tops or near the top in the league in field goal percentage and scoring and we shot 37 percent."
Jones hit back-to-back jump shots to put the Sun ahead, 60-59, with over five minutes remaining.
Tina Charles had 15 points and four rebounds while Renee Montgomery added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Kia Vaughn had 15 points and nine rebounds for New York.
The Sun are 2-5 on the road this season.
"It's hard to win on the road, and we have to learn how to win on the road," Greene said. "I just like the way we responded tonight as a team on defense.
"We may not be known for our defense. . This was a defensive game, low scoring, but I'd rather have that and win than have high scoring and lose."
In another WNBA game:
. Rebekkah Brunson scored 20 points, Maya Moore added 18 and the Minnesota Lynx beat the Fever 80-70, snapping Indiana's seven-game winning streak.
Tamika Catchings scored 22 points and Jessica Davenport had 13 for the Fever, who remain two games ahead of New York atop the Eastern Conference.
Lindsay Whalen scored 16 points and Seimone Augustus chipped in 12 for the Lynx.
Minnesota led by as much as five in the third quarter before falling behind at one point. The Lynx regained the lead after the Fever jumped ahead by three points late in the third.
Indiana hadn't lost since a June 19 overtime defeat to the Phoenix Mercury.