The New York Liberty host the Tulsa Shock tonight after a gratifying win against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday. With a win tonight, the Liberty would have their first consecutive wins of 2014.
NEW YORK CITY- Cappie Pondexter answered questions with a smile.
Normally very cooperative, it was not a surprise to see a little added enthusiasm in her remarks.
Her New York Liberty club had just finished holding off Connecticut 67-65. The Madison Square Garden contest saw the Liberty rebound from a close home loss to the Chicago Sky two nights earlier. Ever the fierce competitor, Pondexter was thrilled for the team and what she was able to contribute.
Less than 48 hours prior, the Liberty guard went scoreless shooting 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-2 from the line.
“I can’t remember the last time Cappie (Pondexter) went scoreless in a game,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. Safe to say it was probably sometime around middle school. Pondexter is a scorer with instincts designed to find spaces and get to the basket, not just hit jump shots. Again, one would be hard pressed to find the game Pondexter logged the 33 minutes she did Friday without putting a point in the scorebook.
“I didn’t have to say a thing to her (Pondexter),” Laimbeer said. “I knew she would be ready and knew she knew what to do to get ready.”
On the afternoon Pondexter tied Tina Charles for Liberty scoring honors with 14 points. Of greater importance was several clutch plays.
Case in point: Connecticut was down five holding for a last shot to close out the third quarter. Pondexter stepped in the passing lane, came up with a steal, raced down court and put in a buzzer beating layup to allow New York to enter the fourth ahead by seven points.
“I put Friday night behind me,” Pondexter said when asked about that contest. “You have to let it go, you have to move on.”
The veteran guard knows games like Friday’s you don’t dwell on – learn from any mistakes but don’t get caught looking back. The quick turn around of games was probably a blessing. Given a day to prepare there was no time to spend lamenting the Chicago game. As Pondexter put it, “Saturday we tried to re-energize ourselves and watch some game tapes.”
The significance of Sunday was neither lost on Pondexter nor her teammates. Connecticut entered the Garden winners of six of the last seven. The Liberty, now 5-11, were on the short end of six of their last seven.
“This win was very important.” Pondexter said. “We could be battling them for a playoff spot. Now we are two and two head to head.”
Then there is the rivalry aspect.
Kelsey Bone of Connecticut played for the Liberty. Charles was in a Sun uniform a year ago. Even Connecticut coach Anne Donovan frequented Liberty games at the Prudential Center during her Seton Hall coaching days.
“You could say we are Tri-State rivals,” Pondexter said of these Liberty-Sun meetings. “We know a lot about each other.”
Bouncing back from a tough loss less than two days ago was extremely satisfying. Getting the job done at your “rival’s” expense, all the more gratifying.