NEW YORK (AP) — Tina Charles and the New York Liberty ended a disappointing season with a victory, just barely missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
Plenette Pierson scored 15 points and Anna Cruz added 10 to help the Liberty beat the Fever 73-61 on Sunday night, closing out the regular season for both teams. New York finished tied with Chicago for the final playoff spot, but lost the tiebreaker after getting swept by the Sky.
“It’s frustrating because we didn’t do what it takes to make the playoffs,” said Charles. “We can’t rely on luck we needed to put forth the same effort the entire year.”
It’s the second straight season that the Liberty missed the postseason, which didn’t sit well with Cappie Pondexter.
“When I first came to New York, I envisioned bringing a title here,” she said. “I’m upset. I don’t think it’s acceptable to not make the playoffs two years in a row. Fortunately, we’re going in the right direction to end the season.”
With the second seed in the playoffs already clinched, Indiana rested star Tamika Catchings along with starters Erlana Larkins and Briann January. The Fever (16-18) will open up the playoffs at home against Washington.
“I thought we did what we wanted to do, rest our three players … and give our backups some quality minutes against a very good team,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said.
Rookie Maggie Lucas scored a season-high 17 points to lead the Fever.
“I thought Maggie Lucas did a great job off the bench, she’s competing for some backup minutes,” Dunn said. “It’s going to be hard keeping her on the bench. Real pleased with what she did.”
The Liberty (15-19) started out the year with high expectations after the draft day trade for Tina Charles, but the season ended in disappointing fashion again.
They led from the opening minutes. Indiana got within 59-55 with 6:31 left before New York scored six straight to restore its double-digit lead and seal the win.
The Liberty don’t have a pick in the league’s draft lottery, which takes place Thursday, because New York traded it to Connecticut as part of the deal to get Charles.
She had a great first season for the Liberty but couldn’t get them to the playoffs. Charles finished with 17 double-doubles, which tied for tops in the league.
“They worked very hard this year,” New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. “They can look back at themselves and realize the opportunity missed. We’re one game out of second. Pretty strange.”