4:00 PM ET, July 17, 2011
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
A late collapse led to the New York Liberty's first loss in five games and left All-Star Cappie Pondexter a little irritated.Facing the lowly Tulsa Shock at Madison Square Garden should improve her mood.Pondexter and the Liberty, who hope to have Plenette Pierson back in the lineup Sunday, look to win their fourth straight in the series and send the Shock to a ninth straight loss.New York (8-6) fell 68-59 to Connecticut on Friday, its first defeat since June 30 at Atlanta.The Liberty took a one-point lead over the Sun on Pondexter's 3-pointer with 5:34 remaining, but missed their final 10 shots as Connecticut closed the game on a 10-0 run."It's one of those losses where you're like 'why did we have to lose?'" Pondexter said. "The most important thing is forget about it and move on."The Shock (1-13) would probably also like to forget about their latest defeat, not to mention the seven before it.Tulsa led Los Angeles by as many as 12 points in the second quarter Friday and still was ahead with less than three minutes to play in the fourth, but wound up losing 79-74.Andrea Riley had a team-high 15 points for the Shock, who haven't won since beating Washington on June 18.The second loss of their current eight-game skid came at the hands of the Liberty, a 94-83 home defeat June 23.Pondexter finished with 23 points in that contest for New York, while Kia Vaughn had a career-best 24 on 12-of-14 shooting. It was New York's third straight win over the Shock since the team moved from Detroit prior to last season.Pierson, who spent parts of six seasons playing for the Shock, had 14 points against her former team last month.Pierson sat out Friday due to a strained left knee, suffered in Wednesday's 91-69 win over Atlanta. The 6-foot-2 forward, third on the Liberty with 13.0 points per game, had originally been cleared to face the Sun but was held out as a precaution.Although Pierson's presence certainly couldn't hurt New York's chances, the Liberty might be able to get by without her against a weak opponent.The Shock, winless on the road, have lost their last three games away from Tulsa by an average of 25.7 points.Hoping to provide a spark as well as veteran leadership to a young team, Tulsa signed former WNBA finals MVP Betty Lennox prior to Friday's loss.Lennox, who led Seattle to the 2004 title, played in 11 games for the Sparks last season before a knee injury. She was in training camp with the Shock earlier this year."I think Betty will bring the ability to score to our young team," interim coach Teresa Edwards told the Shock's official website. "She has proven ability to take over a game if necessary and that's what we are hoping she will do for us."Lennox was scoreless in two minutes Friday, missing her only shot and turning the ball over once.