Friday, July 07, 2006

Liberty Game..... liberty lose again

Defending Champion Monarchs Rout Liberty

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Published: July 6, 2006

Filed at 11:21 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Erin Buescher is making the most of her extended playing time this season. Buescher scored 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and Nicole Powell added 16 points as the defending WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs routed the struggling New York Liberty 79-58 Thursday night.

''You better not miss your open layups when your teammates pass to you,'' Buescher said. ''I had a lot of good shots and I was fortunate to hit a bunch of them.''

Buescher has benefited from the extra time available with DeMya Walker sidelined after giving birth to a daughter on April 11.

''Erin Buescher has been playing well all year, people are just starting to notice,'' Monarchs coach John Whisenant said. ''DeMya Walker's pregnancy, and she's just been back a couple of weeks we can't play her more than 2-3 minutes at a time, she's not in good enough condition. What that did is give Erin the minutes and the opportunity.

''It's really pushed Erin up there where she's had to play a lot of minutes and she's been playing well.''

Walker, in her seventh game since returning, had a season-high 14 points. Yolanda Griffith added 12 points and nine rebounds for Sacramento (10-8), which won for the third time in four games.

''We showed how we are capable of playing,'' Griffith said. ''When we are all focused, know our assignments and roles, we can beat anybody. We played defense the right way.''

Griffith, announced as an All-Star starter for the Western Conference on Wednesday, had nine rebounds to become the second WNBA player to top 2,000 for her career

Shameka Christon and Sherill Baker scored 11 points apiece to lead the Liberty (4-12), losers of three straight. Becky Hammon, an All-Star starter for the East, finished with a season-low five points on 2-for-12 shooting. She also had six rebounds to top 500 in her career.

After the game, Hammon gathered the team on the court and expressed her dissatisfaction with the poor play.

''We have to figure out some answers, we have to come out and play hard,'' Hammon said. ''The energy has to start coming from us. Hopefully everyone will take to heart what was discussed at halfcourt and the locker room and have a better game'' (Friday at Chicago).

The Monarchs broke the game open with a 16-2 run, that spanned both halves, and took a 51-35 lead on Griffith's basket with 6:24 left in the third quarter.

After Baker made four free throws in 9 seconds to pull New York to within 12 nearly a minute later, Sacramento scored 10 consecutive points to put the game out of reach.

The Liberty shot 42 percent in the first half, but just 31 percent (9-for-29) after the break and fell to 2-6 at home.

''I tried to convey what it means to play for New York,'' Hammon said. ''I explained the tradition that New York has. The Liberty reputation is to play hard for 40 minutes. We have to protect that tradition. We are young but we have to figure this out.''

New York coach Pat Coyle didn't speak to reporters after the game but released comments through the team's media relations department.

''Becky hit the mark, Becky hit the game on the head, what she had to say was the truth,'' Coyle said in a statement. ''I have made the decision the people that play hard are going to play. It's about being a professional athlete and know that this is your job.''

Griffith's two free throws with 5:34 left in the second quarter gave Sacramento the lead for good at 25-24. Kara Lawson and Griffith hit jumpers in the final 40 seconds to stretch the Monarchs' advantage to 39-33 at halftime.