NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Cappie Pondexter believes she does her best work with the clock winding down and the game hanging in the balance.
``I want the ball with the game on the line,' said Pondexter, who scored 27 points and had late-game heroics for a second straight game, leading the New York Liberty to an 84-81 overtime victory over the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night.
``I'm a scorer and a winner,' said Pondexter, who capped a 17-point, fourth-quarter comeback with a 3-pointer and scored six points in the extra session. ``I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to win. If I have to score, I'll do it. I want to put the team on my shoulders and bring it home.'
Pondexter's fall-away jumper from 18 feet out with the shot clock winding down with 24.3 seconds left in overtime gave the Liberty the lead for good. They had to survive some officials' reviews and three last-second shots, but the Liberty managed to escape with their first win against the Sun in three meetings this season.
``What can you say about Cappie?' asked Liberty head coach John Whisenant, who earned the 100th win of his WNBA coaching career. Whisenant is in his first year with the Liberty after five with the Sacramento Monarchs, including winning the 2005 WNBA title.
``She's definitely an MVP candidate. She plays up every game with the game on the line. She practices hard and plays hard.'
Pondexter also made the winning shot Tuesday night against Washington.
The Liberty (15-11) moved within 1 1/2 games of the Sun (16-9) in the Eastern Conference standings. It was the Liberty's third straight win and snapped a two-game win streak for the Sun.
The Liberty entered the fourth quarter, trailing the Sun by 17 points (67-52), but used a stifling defense to mount the comeback, outscoring the Sun 22-7 to head to the extra session.
``We didn't play defense like the way we like to over the first three quarters, but when we get it right, we get good results,' Whisenant said. ``We had good results in that fourth quarter.'
The Liberty also did a fine job on collapsing on Sun center Tina Charles, who finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds, but had just four points after the third quarter.
``She's a great player and she's hard to defend,' Whisenant said. ``We did a better job of keeping her away from the ball later on.'
Charles, who had 17 points in the first half, was disappointed with the way the game slipped away.
``The way things were going over the first three quarters, we were in good shape,' said Charles, who reached double figures in points and rebounds for the 15th time in 25 games this season. ``But a lot of times we have a big lead, we let it get away. We can't do that. It's definitely tough to lose this way, both physically and mentally.'
In the extra session, Pondexter hit three jumpers and Kia Vaughn (17 points, 11 rebounds) added a rebound basket to give the Liberty the win. The Sun missed a game-winning attempt with 10.8 seconds left and had another possession that ended in a turnover with 1.8 seconds left.
Besides Pondexter and Vaughn, the Liberty got 19 points from Essence Carson, who made two free throws with .6 seconds left to ice the victory.
Renee Montgomery had 16 points, and Kara Lawson and Asjha Jones had 10 points each for the Sun.
The Associated Press News Service
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