Pondexter scores 20 points to help Liberty get 4th win in 5 games, 88-79 over Sparks

Cappie Pondexter scored 20 points and the New York Liberty beat the struggling Los Angeles Sparks 88-79 Friday night.

Janel McCarville had 15 points, Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 14 points and nine rebounds and Plenette Pierson also scored 14 to help New York (13-11) win for the fourth time in five games. The Liberty also moved into a tie with Connecticut for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, three games behind first-place Indiana.

Tina Thompson scored 18 points and Marie Ferdinand-Harris added 17 for Los Angeles (8-17), which snapped a two-game winning streak.

New York capitalized on the Sparks' mistakes and came up with key shots down the stretch. Nicole Powell's 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes left capped a 9-0 run and gave the Liberty an 82-72 lead, their biggest of the game.

Pondexter made two free throws with about 6 minutes to go to give the Liberty a 71-70 lead and they didn't trail again.

The score was close for most of the game with neither team leading by more than five points through the first three quarters. The Sparks led 63-62 heading to the fourth.

The Sparks, struggling without the injured Candace Parker this season, dropped into a fourth-place with Minnesota in the Western Conference — 1½ games behind San Antonio and 3½ behind second-place Phoenix. League-leading Seattle has already clinched the conference title with 11 games remaining.