NEWARK, N.J. – Cappie Pondexter's grandmother had some simple advice for her: Take over the game. The New York Liberty star listened and helped her team bounce back from a disappointing loss.
Pondexter scored 18 points, Essence Carson had 17 and New York cruised to a 88-57 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Sunday.
"When my grandmother speaks I have to listen and do what she says," said Pondexter, who had just 11 points in Friday night's loss to Connecticut. "It was kind of funny hearing her say that. ... I was heading out the door to go to the game, and she was just like 'Make sure you take over.'"
Kia Vaughn had 15 points and Plenette Pierson, back after missing one game due to a strained tendon in her left knee, added 12 points to help the Liberty (9-6) win for the seventh time in nine games.
"We played with more energy, our feet were alive and we didn't have our mud boots on," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "I told the team I don't have a secret to unlock your energy box but when you play with energy and determination we're a sound, pretty good team and when we play the way we did the last time we're not."
Pondexter played a season-low 21 minutes, scoring 11 points in the first half and six more over the first 5½ minutes of the third quarter.
"I definitely wanted to come out and be more aggressive," she said. "I wanted to be aggressive in terms of just dominating on both ends of the floor and just wanted to make that a point coming into the game."
Tiffany Jackson had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Doneeka Lewis and rookie Liz Cambage scored 11 each for Tulsa (1-14), which lost its ninth straight. The Shock shot 34 percent (21 for 62) from the field, including 5 for 25 on 3-pointers, as Teresa Edwards fell to 0-4 since replacing Nolan Richardson as coach and general manager nine days earlier.
Tulsa was coming off a close loss to Los Angeles on Friday night in a game they led by 18 in the third quarter. Still, the Shock felt like they were turning the corner coming into this game.
"Before today I thought we were going in the right direction," Jackson said. "After that, that was a tough loss. But we're still encouraged. ... It's very tough. No one likes to lose. And the way we're losing sometimes can really be deflating."
Pondexter said she made a point to emphasize to her teammates not to take the struggling Shock lightly.
"I'm sure any team going against them, a team that's won one game, it's easy to step into a game and feel like you automatically won," she said. "But I continued to remind us from the beginning of the game when we're warming up ... that it's not over with. Their team is searching for a win, they have a new coach, they have new energy, so anything could happen."
New York led by 15 at the break and limited Tulsa to six points in the 3rd quarter while doubling the advantage to 69-39 heading to the fourth. Pondexter's third 3-pointer of the game increased the lead to 26 near the midpoint of the third and she left the game for good shortly thereafter. Montgomery made two free throws 1:24 left in the period to give the Liberty a 69-37 lead.
Tulsa got no closer than 27 the rest of the way, and Carson's free throws with about 2½ minutes left extended New York's advantage to 86-52 — its biggest lead in any thing this season.
The Liberty inducted former star Teresa Weatherspoon into the team's "Ring of Honor." Weatherspoon is the franchise leader in assists (1,306) and steals (453), third in games played (220) and fourth in rebounds (750). She is also the only player to have her jersey retired by the team, and her name and uniform number (11) are painted on the floor along the sideline opposite the Liberty bench.
Weatherspoon is also famous for hitting the buzzer-beater from halfcourt that gave New York a win in Game 2 of the 1999 WNBA finals at Houston. The Comets won the next game, getting the third of their four consecutive championships.
Vaughn scored eight points during a 12-3 run that broke open a close game and gave the Liberty a 38-23 lead with 5:25 left in the second quarter.
Lewis had a 3, Marion Jones made an open layup and Jackson had a three-point play as Tulsa pulled within seven with 3:46 to go in the period.
However, the Liberty pulled away again with a 10-0 run. Pondexter hit two free throws to start it and also went coast to coast for a layup to help extend the lead to 17 in the final minute of the first half.