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Silver Stars 78, Liberty 77

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The San Antonio Silver Stars recovered after giving up a big early lead and outlasted the New York Liberty to get a needed win.

Shenise Johnson's jumper with 36.1 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Silver Stars to 78-77 victory over the Liberty on Sunday. Danielle Robinson scored 18 points, Danielle Adams had 16, and DeLisha Milton-Jones added 15 as San Antonio ended a four-game skid.

The Silver Stars (3-5) jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter before the Liberty slowly climbed back and tied it late in the second. San Antonio then pulled ahead by eight in the fourth quarter, only to have New York rally again and take the lead before the Silver Stars tied it in the final minute of regulation.

The Liberty also took the lead three times over the first 3 minutes of the extra period.

``Definitely proud of our effort, proud of the way we fought,'' Robinson said. ``We obviously let go of the (early) lead but the way we closed the game in regulation and in overtime ... we needed it and we buckled down and got it.

``I'm really proud of how we finished up.''

Cappie Pondexter had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Plenette Pierson scored 18 points for New York (4-3), which lost at home for the first time this season after opening with four wins. Pondexter also had seven of the Liberty's 21 turnovers.

The Liberty had three chances after Johnson's go-ahead basket, but Katie Smith missed two 3s, including one blocked by Jia Perkins with 1.9 seconds left.

``There were a lot of frantic possessions, but that last one,'' Smith said, ``(we) had some good looks, they missed, we come down, we get a look, I get a good look at one. Plenette gets a great rebound, (we're) tossing the ball around, blocked shot, game over.''

New York also had a chance to win in regulation, but Pondexter's jumper at the buzzer fell short.

Smith's 3 had given the Liberty a 77-74 lead with 2:05 left in overtime, but they didn't score again. After Robinson's basket pulled the Silver Stars within one 10 seconds later, officials reviewed Smith's jumper and confirmed it as a 3.

Pondexter and Kelsey Bone turned the ball over on New York's next two possessions before Johnson's winning basket.

``We love that we fight, we compete, we don't give up, we battle,'' Smith said. ``But then we also realize if we just took care of the basketball a few more times, we didn't give up that offensive rebound, we hit that shot, we'd walk out here with a win.

``A couple of things here throughout the game and things could be different.''

Johnson had a layup, and Robinson made a jumper to give the Silver Stars a 55-50 lead with 8:05 to go in regulation. Pondexter, however, made a layup and hit a 3 to tie the score less than 40 seconds later.

San Antonio scored the next eight points and led 63-55 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. New York rallied again as Leilani Mitchell hit a bank shot, and Kara Braxton made two layups to pull the Liberty within two with 3:41 left. Pierson's three-point play 45 seconds later gave them their first lead since the game's opening minute.

The teams traded the lead over the next 2 minutes, with Pierson's two free throws putting New York up 68-67 with 1:15 left. Adams made 1 of 2 free throws to tie it with 23.2 seconds left in the fourth.

``We're learning what is to be in a game where they make a play and we make a play, they don't make a play we don't make a play,'' San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. ``Glad to see us answer their baskets and stops. I thought we competed really well today against a good New York team.''

Robinson had a layup, Adams a hook shot, and Shameka Christon a 3 to stretch the Silver Stars' lead to 43-35 with 7:23 left in the third quarter. The Liberty followed with a 7-0 run as Mitchell had a 3, Bone a putback, and Pierson a layup to pull within one with 4 1/2 minutes left in the period. San Antonio led 49-48 heading to the fourth.

Avery Warley made her debut with the Liberty after being signed last Monday to replace Cheryl Ford, who was released because she wasn't able to recover from a knee injury. New York is also without forward Essence Carson, who sustained a season-ending left knee injury earlier this month. Warley finished with six points and six rebounds in nearly 14 1/2 minutes.

The Liberty honored former center Sue Wicks for her induction to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The halftime ceremony included a video montage featuring highlights of her career with the Liberty from 1997-2002. Pondexter, who wears No. 23 as Wicks did in her days with the Liberty, had Wicks' name on the back of her jersey.

San Antonio played without leading rebounder Jayne Appel, who has missed three straight games while recovering from a concussion. The Silver Stars are also without Becky Hammon until July because of a broken finger on her right hand. Sophia Young was lost for the year because of an knee ligament tear during the offseason.

Hammon said her hand was ``coming along,'' and she is looking forward to playing.

``Got 10 more days, something like that, two weeks,'' she said. ``It's terrible for me. This is going to be five weeks. Getting there.''


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