NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson scored 17 points each Sunday, leading the New York Liberty past Atlanta 76-67 for the Dream’s first loss this season.
Kara Braxton added 14 points to help the Liberty (3-2) improve to 3-0 at home. Pondexter added six rebounds and six assists, and rookie Kelsey Bone also grabbed six rebounds.
New York played without forward Essence Carson, who is out for the season with a torn ligament in her left knee.
Sancho Lyttle scored 18 points to lead the Dream (4-1), who were off to their best start since opening the 2010 season with six wins. Angel McCoughtry had 15 points, Tiffany Hayes added 13 and Jasmine Thomas 11.
Rookie Toni Young’s jumper in the final minute of the third quarter pulled the Liberty to 55-51 heading to the last period. Pondexter had a three-point play and Montgomery made a lay-up with 8:10 remaining to put New York ahead one.
Thomas’ bank shot gave Atlanta its last lead, 59-58, with 7:15 left. Braxton followed with a lay-up to put New York back ahead, Leilani Mitchell hit a 3 and Pondexter scored on a jumper to stretch the lead to 65-59 with 5:15 to go.
Braxton made back-to-back lay-ups and Pondexter hit a 3 to increase The Liberty’s advantage to 72-61, their largest lead of the game.
After Pierson’s finger roll lay-up gave the Liberty a 34-33 lead 29 seconds into the third quarter, the Dream scored the next seven points. Lyttle hit a 3, MccCoughtry had a jumper and Thomas added a lay-up to put Atlanta up six with 8:38 left in the period.
New York pulled to 42-40 on Pierson’s lay-up 2 minutes later. However, the Dream pulled away again as Lyttle hit another 3 and then a jumper. After Pondexter hit 1 of 2 free throws, Armintie Herrington’s jumper gave Atlanta its biggest lead, 49-41 with 4:16 left in the third.
Carson was carried off the court with 3:56 left in the second quarter of New York’s 75-56 loss at Atlanta on Friday. An MRI exam Saturday revealed the tear of her anterior cruciate ligament. The former Rutgers star was averaging a team-high 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds through the first three games.
Veteran forward Cheryl Ford, recovering from an injured knee, did not play again. Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said before the game he expected her to make her season debut Friday when New York hosts Connecticut.
Katie Smith started in Carson’s place and finished with five points on 1-for-6 shooting. Young, getting some extended playing time off the bench, had eight points on 4-for-5 shooting in 11 minutes.
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