NEW YORK, N.Y. – JULY 16, 2016 – The Olympic Break is less than a week away and the New York Liberty is looking to enter the hiatus on a high note with two of its final three games coming at Madison Square Garden. On Sunday afternoon the Liberty will host the resurgent Connecticut Sun at 3 p.m.
It will be the second meeting of the year between New York and Connecticut, with the Liberty winning 80-72 at Mohegan Sun Arena last month. Although the all-time series is tied 34-34, the Liberty has dominated as of late, winning seven in a row with an 8-2 record against the Sun over the last 10 meetings. New York has seen some of its best recent individual performances come against the Sun over the past couple of seasons, including a pair of 30-point games for Tina Charles and a franchise record eight blocks for Kiah Stokes.
• The Liberty had its four-game winning snapped with an 88-70 loss at Minnesota on Friday night. Tina Charles led the way for New York with 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Shavonte Zellous finished with 11 points, but a strong start to the second half enabled the Lynx to build a double-digit lead that it never relinquished.
• This is the second meeting of the season between New York and Connecticut, and the first trip of the season to Madison Square Garden for the Sun. When these two teams met last month at Mohegan Sun Arena, Tina Charles matched her career-high of 32 points in an 80-72 Liberty win.
• The Sun are 6-15 but has seen three of its six wins cover over the last five games. On Friday night, Connecticut hosted league-leader Los Angeles and saw an 11-point halftime lead disappear before ultimately falling in overtime.
• Sugar Rodgers, who is second for New York and 12th in the league in scoring, finished with just two points and failed to record a field goal in the loss to Minnesota on Friday. She has scored in double figures 19 times this year, and the result was a stark contract to the last visit to the Target Center, when she scored a career-high 30 points with seven 3-pointers.
PLAYER TO WATCH
In the loss to Minnesota on Friday night Sugar Rodgers was limited to two points and held to 0-1 from the field. Rodgers entered the game averaging 16.0 ppg and 3.0 3-pointer per contest, but did not attempt a 3-pointer in the setback. How will Rodgers bounce back for New York against the Sun?
Rodgers ranks 12th in the league in scoring and has reached double figures 19 times this season. In the first meeting at Connecticut she had what was her previous lowest scoring game of the season, finishing with six points. Along with Tina Charles, Rodgers is the only other Liberty player averaging double figures.
So far this season, the biggest indicator of wins and losses for the Liberty has been the ability to take care of the basketball. Against the Lynx on Friday night, New York turned the ball over 15 times, compared to just six for Minnesota. It was the 13th time this season the Liberty lost the turnover battle and the sixth time it has lost when doing so. When New York commits fewer turnovers than its opponent, it is 7-1.
Over the past several games, head coach Bill Laimbeer has been playing the Liberty’s second unit together for extended periods of time and the bench has made significant contributions all season, and particularly over the past three games. New York ranks fourth overall, averaging 29.0 bench points per game, part of a cluster of five teams (Connecticut, Washington, Chicago, Indiana) that see between 28.8 and 30.2 ppg come from its reserves. Over the past three contests, the Liberty has seen 41.3 points per game come from the bench.