New York Liberty Lose To Intense Fever in Playoffs



Cappie Pondexter (23) and of the rest of the New York Liberty will have to wait until next season for another shot at the championship. (Jason DeCrow/Newsday/MCT)


The New York Liberty’s hopes for their first WNBA Championship will have to wait yet another year, as they were eliminated by the Indiana Fever in the final game of their best-of-three series.

Cappie Pondexter (23) and of the rest of the New York Liberty will have to wait until next season for another shot at the championship. (Jason DeCrow/Newsday/MCT)

This result comes as a reversal of fortune for the two teams from a season ago. In the conference semi-finals last season the Liberty eliminated the Fever by two games to one.

The Liberty’s road to the playoffs did not come easy, as the team struggled to build any real momentum during the course of the season. They opened strong right out of the gate, winning their first two games against the Atlanta Dream, last season’s Eastern Conference Champion, and the Indiana Fever, this season’s Eastern Conference No. 1 seed. However, the team quickly followed this great start with a four-game losing streak, dropping them two games below .500.

The Liberty responded to this adversity by playing their best basketball of the season. The team won six of its next seven games, culminating in a four-game winning streak.

The problem, however, was this would be the Liberty’s last dominant stretch of the season. The team failed to string together any long winning streaks and could not rise in the Eastern Conference standings. They played almost .500 basketball for the remainder of the season, going 11-10. Their 19-15 record was good enough for the fourth and final seed in the Eastern Conference.

Despite their record, the team had a few shining individual performances. Perennial All-Star guard Cappie Pondexter made her fourth WNBA All-Star team, leading the Liberty in scoring (17.4 ppg) and assists (4.7 apg). Her 17.4 points per game were good enough for sixth in the league in scoring.

Alongside Pondexter was breakout star center Kia Vaughn. Vaughn posted career highs in points (10.1 ppg), rebounds (6.7 rpg), steals (1.2 spg) and assists (1.1 apg), while starting all 34 games. Vaughn’s efforts won her the Most Improved Player of the Year Award, making her the second straight Liberty player (Leilaini Mitchell, 2010) to win the award.

While Pondexter led the team through the regular season, she was a non-factor in the post-season matchup with Indiana. Pondexter was thoroughly outplayed by Fever guard, Katie Douglas, shooting a mere 34 percent (15-for-44) from the field for the series.

Forward Nicole Powell tried to make up for Pondexter’s subpar performances. Powell averaged 16.7 ppg after averaging just 9.7 for the regular season. The forward increased her production, while also increasing her efficiency. Powell shot an outstanding 50 percent from the field after shooting 41 percent for the season.

Despite Powell’s valiant efforts, the Liberty’s mediocre season came back to haunt them, as they could not overcome the home-court advantage of the Fever. The team dropped both games on the opposition’s court. Their best chance came in a 74-72 game one loss in which the team battled hard, but were stunned on Fever guard Erin Phillips’ game-winning turn around jump shot right before the buzzer. Game three was not as close, as the Liberty fought hard but could never make that final push for the lead. The Fever built an all but insurmountable 12-point lead with just over two minutes left in the final quarter that signaled the end for Liberty’s season.

Though the Liberty had an exciting season, many Fordham students weren’t watching their games. The biggest reason seems to be students who are fans of the NBA believe it a very different game than that of the women’s sport.

“The women’s game is just so much slower paced,” Hussein Sayed, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’12. “It’s like watching baseball instead of basketball.” Umar Pasha, FCLC ’13, shared similar sentiments. “I feel men are physically stronger and better athletes than women. I don’t think the two games can really compare.”