NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Jia Perkins kept coming through with big shots in key situations for the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Perkins scored a season-high 24 points, Becky Hammon had 23 and Sophia Young added 21 to lead San Antonio to its seventh straight win, 94-81 over the New York Liberty on Sunday. Danielle Adams added 10 points as the Silver Stars (11-5) won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Perkins shot 10 for 17 from the floor — 4 for 10 on 3-pointers and 6 for 7 inside the arc.
“Everybody has a lot of confidence in her,” Hammon said. “She’s like our James Harden, coming in off the bench, lighting people up. She’s been doing that for us all year, her and (Adams), coming in and giving us a really big push.”
Perkins hit two 3-pointers late in the first quarter to help San Antonio keep pace as the Liberty hit five 3s in a 15-6 run over the final 3:22 of the period to take a one-point lead. Then, after New York went ahead early in the second, Perkins hit another 3 near the midpoint of the quarter to pull the Silver Stars within one during a 12-0 run that eventually gave them a six-point lead.
After New York rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to tie the score at 64 late in the third quarter, Perkins had back-to-back jumpers to put the Silver Stars ahead for good with about 3 minutes to go in the period.
Then, when the Liberty pulled to 78-77 with 7:42 to go in the fourth, Hammon and Perkins made 3s about 2 minutes apart to put San Antonio up seven about midway through the quarter.
“My teammates do a good job of penetrating and finding the open players,” Perkins said. “When we have a lineup in with (Adams), me, (Shameka Christon) and Becky, it’s hard to guard that because we space so well and have a lot of 3-point shooters. It’s just up to us to knock them down when the opportunity presents itself.”
Perkins also had a layup just before the halftime buzzer after stealing an inbounds pass following Hammon’s layup with 1.3 seconds left in the second quarter as the Silver Stars took a 51-42 lead at the break.
“I had one last game and I missed it and I got ragged on by my teammates,” Perkins said. “So just wanted to redeem myself.”
San Antonio shot 55 percent from the field (38 for 69), including 38 percent (11 for 29) on 3-pointers. Young shot 9 for 12 and Hammon was 8 for 14.
Essence Carson scored 25 points to lead New York (6-10), and Cappie Pondexter had 23. Leilani Mitchell and Nicole Powell added 12 points each.
“We didn’t have a good outing defensively,” Liberty coach John Whisenant said. “We’ve had a couple of good defensive outings against Seattle and more recently Chicago and we never got control of this one.”
New York shot 46 percent from the field (30 for 65), including 13 for 20 (65 percent) from beyond the arc. The 13 3s tied a season high and were one short of matching a franchise record.
The Liberty were playing their sixth straight game without second-leading scorer and rebounder Plenette Pierson (strained left knee) and the second in a row without leading rebounder Kia Vaughn (concussion).
After Carson had a layup with 2:38 to go in the third quarter — giving her 12 points in the quarter — Young had a layup and a three-point play a little more than a minute apart to put San Antonio up 73-66.
Pondexter’s 3 with 6 seconds left pulled the Liberty within four heading to the fourth quarter.
Adams and Powell traded 3s in the opening minute of the final period. After Perkins made a layup for the Silver Stars, Pondexter hit a 3 and Carson had a bank shot to pull New York to 78-77 with 7:42 to go.
Hammon and Perkins made their 3s about 46 seconds apart and the Liberty got no closer than five the rest of the way.
“We got some open looks but they just weren’t falling,” Mitchell said. “They’re a great team. They’re on a seven-game win streak because they’ve been shooting so well lately. They shot 55 percent today and it’s hard to beat a team when they shoot 55 percent.”
Young’s layup capped a 6-0 spurt and gave the Silver Stars a 90-79 lead with about 3 minutes to go.
“We got a few stops in the fourth quarter and I thought that was the difference and gave us a chance,” San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. “They’re a little banged up and our depth’s good. Where you see the evidence is late in the game.”
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