TULSA, Okla. (AP) -Knocking down one open shot after another, Leilani Mitchell made the Tulsa Shock pay for focusing too much on the New York Liberty's star players.
Mitchell set career highs with six 3-pointers and 20 points, Nicole Powell added 16 points and the Liberty beat the Shock 92-78 on Friday night to give Anne Donovan the 150th victory of her WNBA coaching career.
``I think teams think they can leave her alone and not be concerned with her because of her size, and she's a great shooter - one of the best shooters in the league,' Donovan said. ``It was important tonight. In their scramble, trapping-style defense, you've got to knock down open shots.'
Mitchell matched a WNBA record with four 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Liberty (5-7) open a double-digit lead they wouldn't relinquish. She added back-to-back 3s in the third quarter as New York stretched its lead to 25 at 65-40 before holding off a comeback bid by Tulsa (3-10).
``My shot felt good,' Mitchell said. ``Cappie (Pondexter) and Nicole did a good job driving and they have to help, to respect those players because they're great players, and it left me open.'
Former Olympic track star Marion Jones had career highs with eight points and 15 minutes for the Shock. She also had the first two blocks of her WNBA career, swatting away shots by the taller Plenette Pierson and Janel McCarville in the third quarter.
``I'm feeling more confident, and I think coach is seeing that and my teammates are seeing that,' Jones said. ``It's going to take a little time.'
Jones had been averaging 1.3 points in only 6 minutes in her first 12 games in the WNBA.
``I'm just still really frustrated that we're not getting wins,' Jones said. ``To me, that's what it's about.'
Jennifer Lacy scored 16 to lead Tulsa, which lost for the seventh straight time.
New York connected on 14 of 22 from behind the arc and took control with an early onslaught by Mitchell, who had never made more than three 3-pointers in her first two-plus seasons in the league.
Mitchell hit four of New York's record-tying seven 3-pointers in the first quarter, and the Liberty opened a 29-17 lead on Powell's fast-break layup late in the period. New York started out 7 for 10 from behind the 3-point line to match the record for 3-pointers in a quarter set by the Minnesota Lynx against the Shock in 2007.
Tulsa was never closer than nine after that and trailed by at least 11 throughout the second half.
``We really didn't seem to know anything that we were doing, and at that point you start digging yourself a hole and then you're constantly trying to fight out of a hole,' Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson said. ``Tonight, we weren't able to fight our way back out of that hole.'
Pondexter had 15 points for New York and Pierson, who was traded from the Shock to the Liberty 11 days earlier, scored 11 points in 14 minutes.
Starting guard Shanna Crossley, who had been hospitalized with a staph infection in her leg, got a hug from coach Richardson after she got to the Tulsa locker room. She was not in uniform and missed her second straight game.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved