UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Katie Smith knew what was at stake for the New York Liberty.
"If we lost this game," she said Sunday, "I think our playoff hopes would have been against all odds, really. It was a big game to stay in the mix."Smith was a major contributor to the Liberty's 74-66 win over the Connecticut Sun that kept the Liberty's playoff hopes alive.She scored 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting as the Liberty (11-16) moved within a game of Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.Plenette Pierson led the Liberty with 18 points and Cappie Pondexter scored 14.Connecticut (7-19) set a franchise record for most losses in a season."Katie's been playing very well as of late," New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She struggled early, but now she's found her shot and she's looking for it. It's tough to leave her open."Smith made a three-pointer with 2:03 left in the third period that gave the Liberty a 55-44 lead. Connecticut cut the lead to 55-52 early in the fourth period, but Pierson scored six straight points during a 12-5 run that iced it."We kept our composure throughout the game," Laimbeer said.New York's bench, which made 9 of 10 field-goal attempts in the first half, finished with a combined 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting.Kelsey Griffin led Connecticut (7-19) with 22 points while Tina Charles had 18 and Renee Montgomery finished with 14."At this point, you approach every game, regardless of postseason or not and you have an element of pride to your game," Sun coach Anne Donovan said."Especially in this arena. People don't just come in here and score at will. ... To have their bench just have a field day against us ... It's about pride. I don't even entertain talk of postseason or not postseason. This is about pride. Defensively, we're better than that."New York led 42-35 at halftime. The Liberty shot 51 percent from the field as led by as many as 10 in the second period.Montgomery beat the first-quarter horn with a three-point field goal. The Liberty led 19-17 after one period.