By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The New York Liberty managed to split two games with the Minnesota Lynx last season despite awful performances from top scorer Cappie Pondexter.
They may need a better effort from her this time with the defending WNBA champions seemingly already clicking on all cylinders.
Off to their worst start since 2009, the Liberty look to avoid falling to 0-3 on Tuesday night when they host the Lynx at the Prudential Center.
These teams split two September meetings a year ago, as Pondexter averaged 11.0 points on 4-of-26 shooting. She scored 17.4 per game overall to lead the Liberty in 2011 while shooting 40.2 percent.
Pondexter averaged 18.5 points on 41.4 percent shooting in losses to Connecticut on Saturday and Sunday to begin 2012. Her backcourt mate, Leilani Mitchell, is off to a poor start with eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and seven assists.
Mitchell had a career-high 24 points in last year's 78-62 win at Minnesota, which was New York's most lopsided victory in this series.
The Liberty had trouble down the stretch over the weekend, getting outscored by a combined 19 points in the fourth quarter.
The Lynx raised their championship banner before beating Phoenix 105-83 in their opener Sunday.
"Once the banner went up and the lights went on and we started to warm up for the game, it was about 2012 and what we're trying to do," said Seimone Augustus, who scored 19 points before leaving with bruised ribs, although she appears to be OK for this matchup.
Minnesota did not miss Augustus much as Monica Wright had 15 points, part of a bench that outscored Phoenix's reserves 40-8.
"When Seimone goes out, I kind of feel like everyone needs to step up and do more," point guard Lindsay Whalen said.
Six players reached double figures in scoring for the Lynx. Whalen and Maya Moore each chipped in with 13 points.
"Having most of our team back, everybody is pretty clear about what their role is and what's expected of them," Moore told the Lynx's official website. "I thought the balance with the scoring, you know, we share the ball very well, is exactly who we are, and that's what we want to continue to do."
Moore, last year's rookie of the year, averaged 17.5 points against New York to lead the Lynx.
The Liberty are playing their first game at the Prudential Center after Saturday's home opener was moved to Madison Square Garden to accommodate the NHL playoff series between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
Updated May 21, 2012