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Liberty drops to third in Eastern Conference with loss

NEW YORK (AP) -- Olympian Sylvia Fowles overcame jet lag and found her rhythm in the second half, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Chicago Sky in her first WNBA game since winning a gold medal in Beijing.

Teammate Jia Perkins scored 19 points to lead the Sky to a 69-60 win over the New York Liberty on Thursday night, the teams' first game after a monthlong Olympic break.

Fowles was 4-for-6 with six rebounds in the second half.

"I was a little tired in the first half and couldn't get in the groove," said Fowles, who returned stateside Sunday after the U.S. team beat Australia in the gold-medal game. "I got going after my first shot in the second half. That's when everything got flowing for me."

Candice Dupree added 12 points for the Sky (9-17), who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Essence Carson scored a career-high 19 points for the Liberty (15-11), who dropped to third in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games behind Connecticut and a half-game back of idle Detroit. Janel McCarville added 13 points for New York.

The Liberty, who had won six of seven before the Olympic break, committed most of their 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

"We played really flat," said forward Shameka Christon, whose six points was 10 below her average. "Our turnovers, we only had 10 assists, and not knocking down shots was the telltale story for us."

The Sky went on a 9-0 run to take a 57-52 lead with 5:02 left. Carson broke the Liberty's 6 1/2-minute scoring drought with a layup and free throw, and later her 3-pointer and basket brought New York to 62-60 with 3:12 left.

Perkins responded with a three-point play to extend the Sky's lead to five points.

"We wanted to stop their 3-point threats," said Perkins of the Liberty, who finished 3-for 13 from behind the arc. "We wanted to limit their touches and strengths, and make them play our game."

Fowles added a layup with 43 seconds left for the final tally.

"She's definitely a force," Christon said. "She's such a big target in the paint. We did not want her to post up that deep."

A layup by Perkins, who had 13 first-half points, made it 34-all at halftime. Fowles, who was 0-for-2 from the field at the break, made the first basket of the third quarter to jump-start the Sky.

"It is always a great game with the New York Liberty," said Chicago coach Steven Key. "It looked like a game that everyone had a month off."

Liberty coach Patty Coyle disagreed.

"To me, the layoffs are not an excuse. We just didn't play well," Coyle said. "We just turned the ball over too much. That's a key stat."

Tiffany Jackson did not dress for New York because of a reoccurrence of a leg stress fracture.

"We missed her athleticism," Coyle said. "That team was really athletic."

The Liberty will face Chicago two more times in the next eight games during a 17-day stretch to close the regular season. New York plays its final regular-season game at home against Detroit on Sept. 14 before the playoffs begin on Sept. 18.