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Dream fall another game back in WNBA Eastern Conference playoff race after crushing home loss to Liberty

Photo by Rick Russo

Photo by Rick Russo

ATLANTA -- Cappie Pondexter scored 31 points to lead the New York Liberty to a 90-83 win over the Atlanta Dream on Friday night.

With the win, New York (18-11) moved one game ahead of Atlanta (18-13) in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta was led by Angel McCoughtry's 22 points and 21 from Erika DeSouza.

Pondexter scored 16 points in the first quarter, missing only one of her seven shots from the outside and setting the tone for New York.

Pondexter finished the game 8 of 11 from the field and 13 of 13 from the free-throw line.

Atlanta failed to stop New York even when Pondexter wasn't on the floor. With their leading scorer on the bench, the Liberty increased their lead to 31-23.

But Pondexter, the league's fourth-leading scorer, didn't get off a shot in the second quarter.

Atlanta stayed within range, trailing 44-37 at the half. But Pondexter couldn't be stopped for long.

"I came out aggressive because I knew I had to set the tone offensively," Pondexter said. "Atlanta is such a good offensive rebounding team, we were trying to do whatever we had to do to win.

Pondexter said she was particularly pleased with her performance at the free throw line.

"Someone just told me I was 13 for 13 on Friday the 13th," she said. "That's freaky. But I pride myself in making every free throw. They are, after all, free. It's in your control when you are at the line."

New York coach Anne Donovan said Pondexter did exactly what she's been coached to do -- shoot when she is open, force the ball when she is guarded tightly.

"She cooled off a little when I sat her in the second quarter, but then she got hot again and started getting to the free throw line, which is what we want her to do."