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Sky score 56 in first half, hand Liberty fourth straight home loss

NEW YORK -- Sylvia Fowles knew despite Chicago's 28-point halftime lead at Madison Square Garden, the New York Liberty would make a run.

The Liberty cut the deficit to nine three times in the second half, but couldn't get any closer.

Fowles scored 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting and Candice Dupree added 20 points to lead the Sky to an 88-77 win over New York on Friday night.

"We watched them come back and beat us," Fowles said of a 77-70 loss to New York earlier this season. "We knew they were going to come back at us."

Shameka Christon responded to a pep talk by interim head coach Anne Donovan, scoring 22 of her 25 points in the second half for the Liberty. She added 10 rebounds for New York (8-15), which has lost four straight at home and seven of 11.

Donovan pushed the right buttons after New York trailed 56-28 at the break, the most first-half points the Liberty have allowed in franchise history.

"She told us 'Yeah, we've dug ourselves a hole,'" Christon said. "'If you don't believe we can get out of it, then get out of this locker room."

Christon then carried the Liberty in the third quarter, scoring 19 points to pull New York within 66-57 on a three-point play with 1:48 left. She went 6 for 6 from the field, including three 3-pointers and was 4 of 4 from the free-throw line.

"I kept being aggressive," said Christon of her second career double-double. "My team did a great job of getting me the ball and just feeding me."

New York also trailed by nine, 83-74, on Essence Carson's putback with 1:45 remaining in the fourth. But Jia Perkins scored five of her 14 points to close it out.

Janel McCarville added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Liberty, who remain in last place in the Eastern Conference.

So what was the mood in the New York locker room at halftime?

"Stunned, baffled," McCarville said. "They came out and hit contested shots, they hit open shots. They knocked us right in the face. We weren't able to make an adjustment until after halftime."

Shyra Ely added 12 points for the Sky, who shot 54 percent for the game and made 6 of 11 3-pointers.

Donovan lost her first game at Madison Square Garden as Liberty coach. Donovan coached the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team to a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

She replaced Pat Coyle, who was fired on July 31 before the team went on a five-game road trip. The Liberty finished 2-3 on their longest road swing of the season.

"The first half they were shooting 60 percent, so it was hard to get anything in transition at all," Donovan said.

New York fell behind 39-19 with 6:58 left in the second quarter after two free throws by Ely. The Sky then went on an 11-3 run for a 50-22 lead. Perkins had a 3-point play and two free throws during the run.

McCarville made one of two free throws to temporarily stop the Sky offense. Fowles added four points to close the half.

The Sky went on a 17-6 run starting with Perkins' jumper to take a 28-12 lead after the first quarter. The Liberty shot 6 for 19 from the field in the quarter.

"We know when we get off to a good start that we can play a lot better," Chicago coach Steve Key said. "We didn't expect to go up 29 points at one point."

Connecticut, Atlanta and Washington are tied for second place in the Eastern Conference, and the Liberty trail by four games. Donovan thinks with 11 games left, that's enough time to make a playoff run.

"I believe we can get into the postseason," she said. "It's important that they don't forget that."

Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joined other former NBA stars and Knicks president Donnie Walsh at halftime to honor the Rucker Park pro league legends. The league started in 1950 and many NBA stars played at the courts in Harlem.