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Campers Watch Liberty's Total Team Effort

As the saying goes, this is where we separate the men from the boys. In this case, here is where the ladies of Liberty are distancing themselves from the other teams in the East. New York profited from another all-around gold star worthy effort from the entire team, as the Libs mauled Atlanta 91-69 during a Wednesday afternoon matinee in Newark.

It was Camp Day at The Rock, and the stands were dotted with the bright colored T-shirts of campers from all over the Tri-State area. The kaleidoscope of youth and diehard fans, many of whom skipped work for a day of hoops, set the backdrop for New York’s most dominant victory of the season.

Today’s win against the defending Eastern Conference champion extends New York’s winning streak to four games, its longest unbeaten stretch of the season. And these notches in the left column are coming against quality opponents, including two against West-leading San Antonio.

New York’s recent success is the result of the steady improvement of many players. Cappie Pondexter just picked up her second Player of the Week honor yesterday for her performance last week, and Essence Carson continues her All-Star caliber play, but it’s small forward Nicole Powell who’s becoming more and more of a reliable and consistent option.

Consider the numbers Powell put up today: 7-of-8 shooting from the field, including all five attempts from 3-point land, a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists. She has scored in double digits during the past four games and is showing a confidence from all over the court that cannot be matched by anyone in the league – except of course some of her Liberty teammates.

Also playing with a boat-load of confidence is backup forward/center Quanitra Hollingsworth. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit skeptical when the Liberty brass released Ewelina Kobryn and signed Hollingsworth before the start of the regular season. But Q, a second-year pro out of Virginia Commonwealth, has impressed me with low-key but effective outings game in and game out.

Hollingsworth dropped 10 points on Atlanta in a tough 18 minutes of play. For the year, she’s averaging about 14 minutes and is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. Not too shabby for the free agent signing.

With Powell, Hollingsworth and rookies Sydney Colson and Alex Montgomery getting comfortable with their roles and the pace of the game, much of the pressure is lifted off the shoulders of Pondexter, Carson and center Kia Vaughn. Case in point: the Liberty scored a whopping 91 points against the Dream, and the Pondexter-Carson duo only scored a combined 19 points.

Even better, the Liberty defense held Atlanta to a mere 40 percent from the field and held Dream star forward Angel McCoughtry to 5-of-16 shooting. Talk about team effort!

Not too long ago, the whispers (and some shouts) of doubt about this year’s team and new coaching staff reverberated off the waters of the Passaic River and flooded the streets of New York. Fans were calling for the coach’s head; people were questioning the players’ toughness; the faithful were losing faith.

Just give them some time, insiders told the skeptics. We gave them time, and the Liberty responded.

Now, we have a game again.

One game note: Camp Day today yielded the Liberty’s largest single-game home attendance of the season. With campers, camp staff, parents and fans in the stands, the day’s attendance at the Prudential Center was 14,314. The previous high for the season was 7,625 on June 26 against Los Angeles.

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