UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) - Katie Smith knew what was at stake for the New York Liberty.
``If we lost this game,'' she said Sunday, ``I think our playoff hopes would have been against all odds, really. It was a big game to stay in the mix.''
Smith was a major contributor to the Liberty's 74-66 win over the Connecticut Sun that kept the Liberty's playoff hopes alive.
She scored 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting as the Liberty (11-16) moved within a game of Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Plenette Pierson led the Liberty with 18 points and Cappie Pondexter scored 14.
Connecticut (7-19) set a franchise record for most losses in a season.
``Katie's been playing very well as of late,'' New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. ``She struggled early, but now she's found her shot and she's looking for it. It's tough to leave her open.''
Smith made a three-pointer with 2:03 left in the third period that gave the Liberty a 55-44 lead. Connecticut cut the lead to 55-52 early in the fourth period, but Pierson scored six straight points during a 12-5 run that iced it.
``We kept our composure throughout the game,'' Laimbeer said.
New York's bench, which made 9 of 10 field-goal attempts in the first half, finished with a combined 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting.
Kelsey Griffin led Connecticut (7-19) with 22 points while Tina Charles had 18 and Renee Montgomery finished with 14.
``At this point, you approach every game, regardless of postseason or not and you have an element of pride to your game,'' Sun coach Anne Donovan said.
``Especially in this arena. People don't just come in here and score at will. ... To have their bench just have a field day against us ... It's about pride. I don't even entertain talk of postseason or not postseason. This is about pride. Defensively, we're better than that.''
New York led 42-35 at halftime. The Liberty shot 51 percent from the field as led by as many as 10 in the second period.
Montgomery beat the first-quarter horn with a three-point field goal. The Liberty led 19-17 after one period.