The San Antonio Silver Stars recovered after giving up a big early lead and outlasted the Liberty to get a needed victory Sunday at the Rock in Newark.
Shenise Johnson’s jumper with 36.1 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Silver Stars, 78-77. Danielle Robinson scored 18 points, Danielle Adams had 16 and DeLisha Milton-Jones added 15 as San Antonio ended a four-game skid.
The Silver Stars (3-5) jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter before the Liberty slowly climbed back and tied it late in the second. San Antonio then pulled ahead by eight in the fourth quarter, only to have the Liberty rally again and take the lead before the Silver Stars tied it in the final minute of regulation.
“Definitely proud of our effort, proud of the way we fought,” Robinson said. “We obviously let go of the (early) lead but the way we closed the game in regulation and in overtime . . . we needed it and we buckled down and got it.
“I’m really proud of how we finished up.”
Cappie Pondexter had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Plenette Pierson scored 18 points for the Liberty (4-3), which lost at home for the first time this season after opening with four wins. Pondexter also had seven of the Liberty’s 21 turnovers.
The Liberty had three chances after Johnson’s go-ahead basket, but Katie Smith missed two threes, including one blocked by Jia Perkins with 1.9 seconds left.
The Liberty also had a chance to win in regulation, but Pondexter’s jumper at the buzzer fell short.
Smith’s three gave the Libs a 77-74 lead with 2:05 left in overtime, but they didn’t score again. After Robinson’s basket pulled the Silver Stars within one 10 seconds later, officials reviewed Smith’s jumper and confirmed it as a three.
Pondexter and Kelsey Bone turned the ball over on the Liberty’s next two possessions before Johnson’s winning basket.
“We love that we fight, we compete, we don’t give up, we battle,” Smith said. “But then we also realize if we just took care of the basketball a few more times, we didn’t give up that offensive rebound, we hit that shot, we’d walk out of here with a win.”
Johnson had a layup, and Robinson made a jumper to give the Silver Stars a 55-50 lead with 8:05 to go in regulation. Pondexter, however, made a layup and hit a three to tie the score less than 40 seconds later.
San Antonio scored the next eight points for a 63-55 lead. The Liberty rallied again as Leilani Mitchell hit a bank shot, and Kara Braxton made two layups to pull the Libs within two with 3:41 left. Pierson’s three-point play 45 seconds later gave them their first lead since the game’s opening minute.
The teams traded the lead over the next two minutes, with Pierson’s two free throws putting the Liberty up 68-67 with 1:15 left. Adams made one of two from the line to tie it with :23.2 left in regulation.
San Antonio played without leading rebounder Jayne Appel. The Stanford product has missed three straight games while recovering from a concussion. The Silver Stars are also without Becky Hammon until July because of a broken finger on her right hand.
The Liberty honored former center Sue Wicks for her induction to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The halftime ceremony included a video montage featuring highlights of her career with the Liberty from 1997-2002. Pondexter, who wears No. 23 as Wicks did in her days with the Liberty, had Wicks’ name on the back of her jersey.