ATLANTA, GA. – JUNE 21, 2016 – The New York Liberty wraps up a three-game road trip when it faces the Atlanta Dream for a Wednesday matinee at Philips Arena at 12 p.m.
Atlanta took the first meeting between these two teams, 85-79, in overtime back on May 24, but now they find themselves tied at the top of the Eastern Conference standings at 8-4. Although just a third of the way through the season, this game could have postseason seeding implications.
• The Liberty erased a 4-point deficit with fewer than 25 seconds to play to come back and win at Indiana in overtime, 78-75 on Sunday afternoon. Sugar Rodgers nailed an off-balance 3-pointer with 22.1 remaining, then tied the game with a pair of free throws as New York extended its winning streak to four in a row and won at Indiana for the first time since 2013. Tina Charles posted her eighth double-double of the season with 26 points and 15 rebounds, and Tanisha Wright added 13 points with five assists.
• Tina Charles was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week for a third time this season on Monday afternoon. She led the WNBA in scoring last week, pouring in an impressive 28.7 ppg, including a career-high 32 in a win at Connecticut.
• Kiah Stokes continued to maker her presence known as a candidate for Sixth Woman of the Year, hauling in a career-high 14 rebounds with eight points and two blocked shots in the win at Indiana. She is second in the league in blocks (2.2 bpg).
• The Liberty saw a late lead slip away in the first meeting with Atlanta, falling to the Dream 85-79 in overtime at Madison Square Garden. Tina Charles had 29 points and 10 boards to lead New York in that contest.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Kiah Stokes has been making a bigger and bigger impact with each passing game, and will be in the spotlight on Wednesday when the league’s top to shot blockers square off in the paint in a battle between her and Elizabeth Williams.
Stokes has at least two blocks in each of her last three games, and matched up decently in the first meeting with Atlanta, scoring five points, with seven rebounds, and two blocks. She has been looking for her own shot more often as of late and is finishing around the rim at an incredibly high percentage, shooting .635 from the field which is just a couple of made field goals shy of qualifying for the league leaders, where she would sit third.
Originally known as a volume 3-point shooter, Liberty guard Sugar Rodgers has shown that she can contribute in a myriad of ways. First the 3-point shooting, not only is she second in the league with 31 triples, but she is shooting at a high percentage, ranking sixth in the league at .431 beyond the arc. She is also getting to the line, third for the Liberty with 33 makes from the stripe, and is a also 34th in rebounds per game (4.5) and 16th with 1.3 steals per game. Her scoring average has nearly doubled from the 8.1 ppg she put in during the 2015 season.
Once again the Liberty is hanging its hat on defensive effort, making life very difficult for opposing offenses. New York has limited 7-of-12 opponents, most recently Indiana on June 19, to under 36.0 percent shooting from the field, and the Liberty leads the league in defensive field goal percentage of .392 (the league average is .440).