Mohegan - It sounds like a classic Yogi Berra-ism (though it's not): Until you win one, you haven't won one. And nobody on the home bench, save Asjha Jones, had won a WNBA playoff game wearing a Connecticut Sun uniform before Thursday night.
So while they coughed and wheezed at times, provided significant angst for 5,520 lively fans and were quick to point out all the warts, the Sun accomplished something they hadn't since Sept. 20, 2008. They won a playoff game.
They held off New York, 65-60, to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sun can advance to the finals with a win Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Connecticut used a 12-0 run in the fourth period, holding New York without a point for 6 minutes, 37 seconds spanning the third and fourth quarters. The Sun also survived the end of the game, when they didn't score for the last 2:30.
Tina Charles, named the league's Most Valuable Player before the game, led the Sun with 17 points and four blocked shots, but a mere three rebounds. Jones, working her way back from a strained Achilles' tendon, played 29 minutes and scored six of her 10 points in the final 11 minutes. Jones also had a team-high nine rebounds.
"We didn't run around worrying that we haven't won a playoff game yet as a group," Jones said. "We focused on how we wanted to play. That's enough to worry about."
The Sun led by as many as 14 in the first half and by seven at halftime. But they missed 12 of their first 14 shots in the third period, allowing the Liberty to tie the game. But at 45-45, the 12-0 run came, capped by Tan White's steal and score to the delight of the crowd.
White had six points and four rebounds off the bench, also guarding Liberty leading scorer Cappie Pondexter. Mistie Mims also had six points and seven rebounds off the bench.
"Tan was fantastic on Cappie during that stretch and Mistie got two or three defensive boards," Sun guard Kara Lawson said. "It was a playoff win. Slow down, every rebound was difficult. They did a good job of muddying it up and using their size advantage on the glass. They're going to shoot better the next game. We gave them too many extra possessions."
The Liberty shot 26 percent (20-for-77) from the field. But they muscled their way to 17 offensive rebounds.
Pondexter led New York with 14 points. Plenette Pierson had 13 with nine rebounds and Nicole Powell had 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
Lawson had eight points, six rebounds and five assists, while Allison Hightower had nine points, five rebounds and five assists. Hightower scored the Sun's final basket with 2:30 left that gave them a 65-53 lead.
"In the playoffs, teams are good. You're not just going to come out and play your best game," Lawson said. "Teams that win series fight through stretches not playing well. Tonight, we fought. We had some calls not go our way and we missed some easy shots.
"But we won. Name of the game."