WNBA

Liberty 85, Sun 83

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NEW YORK (AP)

Despite squandering another double-digit lead in the first half and giving up a tying 3-pointer in the final second of regulation, the New York Liberty kept their poise and pulled out a needed win in overtime. Janel McCarville had a tiebreaking layup with 8.2 seconds left in overtime to lift the Liberty to an 85-83 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Friday night. "It was like the biggest game of the year," McCarville said. "At this point, it is the biggest game of the year for us. Every game we play is going to be a do-or-die type of game. We need to treat it that way." Shameka Christon had 23 points, including the tying layup 26 seconds earlier, and McCarville finished with 22 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for New York (10-16). The last-place Liberty pulled three games behind Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Liberty, who led by 17 in the first half of a loss at Connecticut on Wednesday night, had an 11-point lead in the second quarter this time. The Sun rallied and led by five late in the fourth quarter, but then needed a tying 3-pointer from Anete Jekabsone with 0.3 seconds left to send the game to overtime. "We knew this would be a game based on runs," McCarville said. "We just played Connecticut two days ago we knew what they had to offer. They attack and made some runs but we were able to say with them and limit the runs. We did pretty well most of the game, they came back late and hit some big shots. We made baskets when we needed it." Sandrine Gruda had career-bests with 24 points and 12 rebounds for Connecticut (13-12). The 6-foot-4 center shot 12 for 21 from the field, setting a career high for field goals made and taking advantage of her matchup against the 6-2 McCarville. "Gruda was difficult," Liberty interim coach Anne Donovan said. "Janel was doing a great job, but there is nothing she could do with that size difference. She was frustrated at times and asked me, 'What else can I do?' There was nothing else can she can do unless I gave her four inches." Tan White scored 15 points, Amber Holt had 11 and Jekabsone 10 for the Sun, who played their second game without leading scorer Asjha Jones. Connecticut learned earlier in the week Jones will miss two weeks due to a sore Achilles' tendon. Jekabsone made two key 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation. McCarville made a jumper and Essence Carson hit a 3 to give the Liberty an 81-78 lead with 3:43 left in the extra period. Gruda's basket pulled Connecticut within one 20 seconds later and Erin Phillips hit a 3 to push the Sun ahead 83-81 about 47 seconds later. "We had plenty of chances to put it away and so did they," Connecticut's Lindsay Whalen said. "That's the way basketball goes and it stings right now but we have a quick turnaround so we have to gear it up for tomorrow night (at home against Minnesota)." After McCarville's go-ahead basket, Connecticut coach Mike Thibault mistakenly believed his team had more time to get off a shot but the Sun managed only a 22-foot attempt by Whalen that missed. "I don't know what I looked at, I thought we had more time and I thought we could run it up the floor," Thibault said. "When I looked up I saw 18 instead of 8 (seconds). I don't know how, I can't even explain it." McCarville hit two free throws, Christon had a jumper and Ashley Battle made a free throw to tie the score at 66 with 1:58 to go. Christon hit two from the line to give the Liberty the lead with 1:25 left, and McCarville made two 16 seconds later to stretch New York's advantage to four. Jekabsone hit a 3-pointer to pull the Sun within one with 48 seconds left. Carson hit a jumper and Battle made two free throws for New York, but White followed each with layups to keep the margin at one point. McCarville made two free throws with 15.4 seconds left to give New York a 76-73 lead, and Jekabsone hit her tying 3 in the final second.

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