Pondexter nightmarish for the Dream.
School is now in session. Well, no it isn’t, but at least for Cappie Pondexter it is. On a day where Madison Square Garden hosted about 12,000 out of school summer campers for Camp Day, Pondexter was still teaching an important lesson; do not leave her wide open on the game-winning shot.
That was exactly what the Eastern Conference-best Atlanta Dream (15-6) did in the final seconds when Pondexter drained a jumper just beyond the free throw line to put the New York Liberty (8-13) up 77-75 with 0.4 seconds to go.
“I love it…it’s just a great moment for me, mentally. Especially when your teammates depend on you to knock that shot down,” she would later say when asked about the fateful shot. However, it wasn't always clear skies and bright rainbows for Pondexter this game.
Most of the game she struggled with her offense, mostly because of a hurt achilles that just won’t seem to get better. When asked about the injury, head coach Bill Laimbeer said, “We worry everyday if she's even going to play. Not only does she have an achilles issue that won’t go away…she had another injury [groin pull] a couple games ago that is still lingering. She hasn't practiced in three days.” Still, the All-Star managed to help the team in other ways, namely acting as a facilitator dishing out seven assists.
The bench, with Plenette Pierson and Sugar Rodgers, was key in picking up the slack offensively as they scored 14 and 15 points respectively. “I thought those that played today all made great contributions across the board,” Laimbeer would go on to say. The only problem, for Laimbeer, was “we didn't play well offensively in the 4th quarter, our timing was off, and we got caught with some none-scorers in the game. Fortunately our defense carried us down the stretch.”
And fortunately for the New York Liberty they did not fall into their habitual mental lapses where they “lose their heads” as Bill Laimbeer says. Instead they stiffened up their defense and pushed through a 4th that saw them score 12 points to win the game. When asked what was difference between this close victory and other blown close games, center Tina Charles responded, “Just us being poised, us having consistency. Five weeks ago we wouldn't have won this game.”
With the All-Star break coming up, the Liberty will have plenty of time to rest up and build on this huge win. In the meantime, check out Pondexter and Tina Charles in the WNBA All-Star game on July 19th at 12:30 PM.
Listen to Laimbeer, Pondexter and Charles' comments below: