It was tough right out of the gates and right then and there you knew it was going to be a rough night. By basketball standards it was the textbook definition of "not pretty."
The game started off with an 11-0 run by the Liberty fueled by many missed long jumpers by the Mercury. Early on the team could not muster any rhythm or momentum as the deficit never was cut no lower than nine points after that point in the game. All good things come to an end, and for the Mercury, their brief flirtation with season ending perfection ended at the hands of the Liberty 87-59.
With this loss the Mercury fall to 6-20 while the Liberty rise to 11-16 as they battle for the final playoff spot out east.
Knocking off two playoff caliber teams was impressive with the team winning at home against the Storm and Silver Stars before hitting the road, which has been much tougher on the team this season. In those two games there was a flow to the game as the team played off of the crowd and their energy.
There was also a great group dynamic as the ball was moving around well getting a lot of different players involved.
While totaling only 59 points, the ball seemed to stop a lot ending possessions with long, quick jumpers. DeWanna Bonner (20 points), Diana Taurasi (10), and Alexis Hornbuckle (10) were the only players in double figures, all shooting under 30% from the field after shooting much better during the two previous games.
The Liberty were that team oriented pass happy team tonight. They finished with five players in double figures while Cappie Pondexter (10 points 8 assists) was able to lead the offense rather than be the offense.
A big part in the offense not having a flow was due to Samantha Prahalis going down with an undisclosed shoulder injury. She did not get on the scoreboard in her six minutes of action giving the team one less playmaker on the court. Taurasi also saw limited action tonight (15 minutes) as the game got out of hand quickly.
This runs some parallels with the big home loss to the Silver Stars a few weeks ago. In that game the shots were not falling and defensively the team gave up a lot of easy buckets at the rim. The same could be said tonight.
Overall this season cannot be judged by wins and losses as this game cannot be judged by the final score. This season, thanks to the injuries and a slow start, has created an open tryout for the final three to four roster spots on the 2013 roster. It is also a major opportunity for Prahalis and Bonner to garner experience not only as starters, but producers at a high level. Those two have not disappointed in their larger than normal roles this year.
Up next on the road trip is a visit to the east leading Connecticut Sun (20-7) who the Mercury have not played yet this season. It will be another unique challenge for the team on the road, especially if it is minus talented rookie Prahalis leading the charge.