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Liberty eclipse Silver Stars despite Carson’s injury

I knew this would happen. Just days after I knocked on wood and said we should all be thankful that the Liberty have avoided the injury bug this season, the first significant challenge to the team’s health was posed. I swear I knocked on wood!

Essence Carson was unavailable for last night’s game against San Antonio after suffering an eye injury during pregame warmups. The extent of the injury was still unknown late Friday, but she was being treated at a nearby hospital in New Jersey.

Carson’s absence cast a dark cloud over the Prudential Center as the Silver Stars, the league’s best team, made their first trip to Newark. But as it has done in the past two weeks, New York’s defense put the clamps on its opponents and guided the Liberty to an 81-75 victory.

Without Carson, New York’s best defender at the forward or guard positions, the Libs were hit hit a tough task. The Liberty, whose defense had been questioned heavily earlier this season, held San Antonio to just 34 percent shooting from the floor and kept the Stars off balance in transition.

Rookies Sydney Colson and Alex Montgomery stepped up in Carson’s stead and filled the role admirably. Though they didn’t match Carson’s 14 ppg, the first-year duo offered valuable minutes and much-needed defensive intensity.

Meanwhile, Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson had no problem carrying the offensive load. Pondexter scored a game-high 19 points, while Pierson had 14. Nicole Powell also chipped in, shaking off a slow start to 2011 to hit three of five 3-pointers and tally 13 points. Center Kia Vaughn added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Though no one wants to see any player on the shelf with an injury, sometimes it takes adversity to wake a team and its players. With her unstoppable mid-range jumper, driving ability and defensive prowess, Carson is an irreplaceable player. But what we saw from Powell, Colson, Montgomery and even Sidney Spencer (nine points in 13 minutes) made everyone – from the coaching staff, to their teammates and the fans – feel confident. And for them to perform so well against the league’s top team suggests that the Liberty can rely on anyone at any time.

Still, we’re hoping that Carson gets better and returns to action quickly. The Libs’ next game is July 8, so there’s plenty of time for everyone to heal, including any fans who think I put the injury bug jinx on the team.

I’m still knocking on wood, guys.

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