By Vin A. Cherwoo Associated Press
NEWARK, N.J. — Plenette Pierson scored nine of her 22 points in the fourth quarter as the New York Liberty recovered after giving up nearly all of a 19-point lead in the third quarter and beat the Seattle Storm 66-57 on Tuesday night.
Cappie Pondexter had 13 points for New York (6-7), which had lost three straight and five of the last six.
Tina Thompson scored 13 points and Tanisha Wright added 12 for the Storm (5-8), losers of five of their last six. Seattle lost three of four on a road swing against Eastern Conference teams.
After Toni Young’s jumper in the opening possession of the third quarter extended the Liberty’s lead to 38-19, the Storm went on a 20-2 run to pull within a point on Alysha Clark’s layup with 2:58 remaining in the period.
Pondexter made two free throws 14 seconds later and Pierson followed with a bank shot less than 30 seconds later to push the lead back to five.
Noelle Quinn’s 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth pulled Seattle within three, and the Liberty scored the next seven points to extend the margin to 10 on Pondexter’s layup with 7:45 remaining. Seattle got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Two days after a 29-point loss at home to Chicago, the Liberty got off to a fast start against the Storm, using runs of 11-0 and 9-0 to lead by 17 at the end of the first quarter. New York increased the margin to 19 in the second quarter before taking a 36-19 lead at halftime.
Katie Smith scored five points as the Liberty scored 11 consecutive points to take an 11-3 lead just more than 4 minutes into the game. Thompson, who had opened the scoring with 3-pointer, had a layup to pull Seattle to 15-7 about 3 minutes later. However, the Liberty scored the next nine points — capped by Leilani Mitchell’s 3 with 15.7 seconds remaining in the period — to take a 24-7 lead after 10 minutes.
The Storm used a 7-2 run to pull within 12 less than 3 minutes into the second quarter. However, the Liberty scored the next seven points to take a 33-14 lead — their largest advantage of the game — with 3:09 left in the first half.
Pierson scored eight points off the bench to help New York to a 36-19 lead at halftime. Thompson led the Storm with eight points.
Pondexter, starting at point guard for the first time this season, was scoreless until hitting a 3-pointer near midway through the second quarter. She missed her first four shots, including a last-second heave from more than three-quarters court at the end of the first quarter. Pondexter had five points on 2-for-10 shooting with five rebounds at halftime.
Rookies Kelsey Bone, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, made her first start of the season for the Liberty. Toni Young, selected No. 7, made her second start — first since the season opener.
The Liberty honored Thompson before the game as former Liberty players Kym Hampton and Taj McWilliams-Franklin, currently an assistant, presented her with a bouquet of flowers. Thompson, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer and the only player to have appeared in each of league’s 17 seasons, has announced she’s retiring at the end of the year.