NEW YORK — Sugar Rodgers came out of college as a prolific scorer. New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer is proud of the strides she’s made on defense.
Rodgers scored a career-high 15 points, including seven in the final three minutes, and played stellar defense on Sue Bird in the second half to help New York beat the Storm 70-64 on Tuesday night.
“She was a great scorer in college, and you saw the old Sugar Rodgers tonight. She made some great plays,” Laimbeer said of the former Georgetown star. “We knew she was a quality defender. She was on Sue Bird the whole second half. Both ends of the floor, she was the difference in the game.”
The Liberty trailed 62-54 with 2:55 left and had scored just one basket over the previous 13 minutes when Rodgers came to life. Her three-pointer made it a five-point game. After Bird answered with a jumper, New York scored the final 11 points of the game, including five by Rodgers. Her three-pointer with 1:06 left tied it at 64.
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Cappie Pondexter then hit a jumper with 24.9 seconds left to give New York (2-2) the lead for good.
Bird led Seattle (1-4) with 21 points, but had only four in the second half. Crystal Langhorne added 13 points and 15 rebounds.
“We let this one get away,” Bird said. “You try to get a few wins on the road, and this was one of them we should have had.”
Seattle is nearing the end of a five-game Eastern swing that will conclude Friday in Atlanta. The Storm plays 10 of its 13 games on the road — the most ever to start a season, according to STATS.
The Storm was without forward Jenna O’Hea, who is sidelined 4-6 weeks with a broken left pinky toe sustained in practice Monday.