AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- In a few days, Swin Cash will start
focusing on her role with the U. S. Olympic team.
Until then, she's still trying to get her Detroit Shock back to
the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Cash had 15 points and seven of Detroit's franchise-record 28
assists to help the Shock beat the New York Liberty 88-79 Friday
night. Cheryl Ford led the Shock with 19 points and nine rebounds
while Ruth Riley added 12 points and nine rebounds.
"We've been looking for that performance all season," Cash
said. "Coach told us that these last two games might be the most
important of the season, and we showed up to play tonight."
Both teams have one game left before the monthlong Olympic
break. Riley will join Cash on the USA Team in Athens, while New
York's Elena Baranova will represent Russia.
The Shock, who were 0-2 against the Liberty this season, set a
season high in points.
"I thought a lot of people contributed, but it was Cheryl who
set the tone with her defense in the first five minutes of the
game," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "Tonight was really
important for us, because New York was ahead of us in the standings
and they had a 2-0 lead on us for the tiebreaker. Now we need to
win on Sunday and go into the break on a roll."
Becky Hammon and Baranova had 12 points each to lead New York,
which had its three-game winning streak snapped.
"I thought we would be ready to play, but they came out with a
lot more intensity that we did," said interim New York coach Pat
Coyle. "I think that was the difference."
The Shock (13-13) started quickly, hitting eight of their first
10 shots to take a 16-7 lead. Detroit led 44-31 at the half behind
nine points from Cash.
The Liberty struggled with 11 first-half turnovers and gave up
26 points in the paint. Hammon finished with seven turnovers.
"I thought we didn't play very well," Hammon said. "I don't
think we could have played much worse in the first half."
Detroit expanded the margin to 61-41 in the first seven minutes
of the second half and the Liberty (12-12) never seriously