NEW YORK (AP) Sophia Young-Malcolm is still working her way back from an ACL injury that sidelined her for all of last season.
The veteran forward had her best game of the young season, scoring 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting, to help the San Antonio Stars beat the New York Liberty 87-75 on Thursday night.
''I'm gaining more confidence every day,'' said Young-Malcolm, who had big bags of ice on her knees after the game. ''With the injury, there's a lot of mental stuff you have to go through. You try to just go out and play and let it come to you. You take it one day at a time and hope that it continues to get better.''
Jia Perkins added 17 points while Kayla McBride had 14 for the Stars (4-4), who used a 21-3 run to close the third quarter and blow open a close game. Trailing 53-51 midway through the period, McBride got the spurt started with a 3-pointer. Then Danielle Adams took over, scoring eight points during the burst. Her 3-pointer with 54 seconds left made it 68-56. Perkins converted a layup just before the buzzer to put San Antonio up it 72-56.
''We changed defenses a bit and got a few turnovers that led to easy baskets,'' McBride said.
The game was also a return to Madison Square Garden for Becky Hammon. The veteran guard, who played eight years for the Liberty, had five points and three assists. She's still getting healthy from an ACL injury that limited her to one game last season.
''It's always great to come back and play here,'' Hammon said. ''You never know how many more chances I'm going to have. I have so many great memories here.''
New York (2-5) lost its third straight game and coach Bill Laimbeer was disappointed with his team's effort.
''We've got to be mentally stronger. We're not good enough to overcome those types of mistakes. We start turning the ball over and we're not going to win,'' Laimbeer said. ''We made a lot of mistakes in the third quarter. They got it going. Once you get going it's hard to stop a team. ... They sensed they had the kill and they went for it and got it.''
Tina Charles scored 11 points and Alex Montgomery added 10 to lead the Liberty.
New York was able to stay close in the first half by shooting 59 percent from the field. The Liberty trailed 22-17 before closing the first quarter with a 10-2 run. Then Perkins took over for the Stars, scoring eight points. San Antonio led 47-46 at the end of the first half. The Stars also shot 59 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The Stars picked up their defense in the third quarter, holding New York to just 10 points as the Liberty made 3 of 15 from the field. They also had eight turnovers in the period.
With his team down 22 points midway through the fourth quarter, Laimbeer pulled his starters.
''We're going to sit down tomorrow and discuss what's going on,'' Laimbeer said. ''After the game is not the right time to air grievances.''
San Antonio welcomed back Shenise Johnson, who had missed the last three games with a right hamstring injury. She had two points in 10 minutes.
Tennis great Billie Jean King sat courtside for the game.
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