Liberty 78, Shock 76
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)
Cappie Pondexter didn't think her game-winning shot was going to go in.
It touched just about every part of the rim before dropping through the net with five-tenths of a second left, giving the New York Liberty a 78-76 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Friday night.
''It left my hand pretty weird, but I got lucky with the shooter's bounce,'' Pondexter said of her jumper from just outside the lane.
She caught the ball at the top of the key and dribbled to her right before pulling up for the shot.
''I'll go to battle with her making the last shot every day of the week,'' Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. ''I'll give her the ball and let her do her thing. She can shoot over any big player that is out there. It's important we waited till the last possible second to get a good shot.''
Tulsa had one last chance, but Glory Johnson's layup came just after the buzzer. The officials went to the monitor to review whether the shot was good or not and ruled it came just after.
''It was pretty close I want to say,'' said Johnson, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. ''If they got it by my fingernail maybe. I was looking up at the clock and thought I released the ball then the light went off.''
It was just another tough loss for the young Shock (0-3).
''We're a work in progress,'' Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. ''We have a lot of young players that haven't played together. We've only had a few practices. I feel like we're the type of team that could be pretty good down the road.''
Liz Cambage scored 22 points to lead Tulsa before injuring her left ankle in overtime.
''I'm angry, I was just starting to work my way back,'' said Cambage, who broke her wrist in the offseason. ''I should only be out for a week or two but I'm angry.''
Rookie Skylar Diggins had a tough game scoring just seven points, going 2 for 11 from the field in front of rap superstar Jay-Z.
He was sitting courtside next to Diggins' parents for the first 1 1/2 quarters before leaving to catch a flight to London. Jay-Z's sports agency Roc Nation signed Diggins in April and gave her a new white Mercedes when she graduated from Notre Dame a few weeks ago.
The teams traded baskets in overtime before Kara Braxton's layup with 1:47 left put the Liberty ahead 75-73. Johnson had two chances on the other end but missed two layups. On the play, Cambage went down with a left ankle injury.
Pondexter missed a runner with 18 seconds left that would have made it a four-point lead, but Braxton was there for the rebound to give the Liberty another possession.
Essence Carson, who led New York with 18 points, converted one free throw to make it 76-73 with 14.8 left.
Nicole Powell, who spent the previous three seasons with the Liberty before being traded to the Shock in the offseason, tied it at 76 with 11 seconds left in overtime when she hit a deep 3-pointer from well beyond the top of the key.
Diggins had a quiet game with Jay-Z around, going scoreless. Once he left, the third pick in the WNBA draft got going, helping Tulsa rally from an eight-point first half deficit. She had all but one of her points in the second half.
Diggins hit a 3 to start the third quarter that began a 13-4 run. Roneeka Hodges' 3 with 6:24 left in the period made it 42-41, giving Tulsa its first lead since early in the game.
The teams traded the lead over the remainder of the period and the Shock held a 52-51 lead at the end of the third.
Tulsa built a 67-63 lead with 2:52 left in regulation before the Liberty tied it on Carson's jumper with 2:10 to go.
Johnson's layup made it 69-67 with 52 seconds remaining. Carson then tied it again with a turnaround basket in the lane 15 seconds later.
Pondexter had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but her jumper from the top of the key bounced off the rim. She didn't miss the second time.
It was the second straight overtime game for Tulsa, which fell to Washington on Monday.
Diggins has already become the face of a franchise struggling for identity since it moved to Tulsa from Detroit in 2010. The team hasn't come close to matching the success it had in the Motor City under the leadership of Laimbeer.
He helped guide the Shock to three WNBA titles when they were in Detroit. Laimbeer, in his first season with New York, has moved on from his time with the Shock.
''They got rid of all the best players, that's why they went in the tank,'' Laimbeer said smiling before the game. ''They are a different franchise, different city, all the players are different.''
The game was the home opener for the Liberty, who are playing their final season in Newark. The Liberty will head back to Madison Square Garden next year when the final phase of the construction is complete.
New York led 21-17 early in the second quarter before going on a 12-2 run to take control. Smith's 3-pointer started the burst and rookie Kelsey Bone's layup made it 33-19 with 3:54 left in the half, much to the delight of New York Knicks guards Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert, who were at the game.
New York led 37-29 at the half.
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