NEW YORK LIBERTY (9-9) vs. CONNECTICUT SUN (12-8)
Wednesday, July 19 • New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden) • 11:00 AM (ET)
Coming off its biggest win of the year, the Liberty will face a tough test when it hosts the 1st-place Connecticut Sun for Camp Day on Wednesday, July 19, at The Garden, with a special 11 AM tip time. New York bounced back to beat the Washington Mystics 85-55, but is 0-2 this season against the Sun, who have gone 11-4 after getting off to a 1-4 start to take over 1st place in the East.
• The New York Liberty got back to .500 for the year by picking up an 85-55 victory over the Washington Mystics on Sunday afternoon at The Garden. Despite Tina Charles scoring just 6 points with 7 rebounds, the Liberty enjoyed its most complete effort of the season, which saw 41 points come from the bench in a season-high 30-point margin of victory. Point guard Bria Hartley led the way for New York, posting 15 points on a season-high 3 3-pointers.
• Bria Hartley was inserted into the starting lineup at point guard, allowing Epiphanny Prince to slide over to shooting guard and Hartley thrived, posted a +18 in 23 minutes of action, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and scoring a team-high 15 points.
• Sugar Rodgers led an impressive second unit in the win over Washington, scoring 14 points on 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. New York, which entered the game ranked 12th in the WNBA averaging 14.8 ppg from the bench, erupted for 41 bench points, the most in a single-game this season.
• New York limited Washington to just 27.7 percent shooting on Sunday, the 2nd time this season the Liberty has held a foe under 30.0 percent from the field. New York continues to lead the league in defensive field goal percentage (.403).
Jasmine Thomas earned her 1st-career All-Star bid and is averaging 14.8 ppg while hitting 45.8 percent of her 3-point shots, going 38-of-83 from long distance. The Liberty will look to counter with Epiphanny Prince, who has moved over to her more natural position of shooting guard. Prince is 12.3 ppg and ranks 2nd on the team with 16 3-pointers this year. New York will look to get her going, along with Sugar Rodgers coming off the bench, to match a Sun team that ranks 1st in the league in 3-point shooting percentage (.420).
New York nearly completed its largest-ever comeback in erasing a 21 point deficit against the Connecticut Sun on June 23 at The Garden. After falling behind by 21 points in the 3rd quarter, New York knotted the score at 86-86 with 1:06 to play, but was unable to regain the lead. New York’s franchise record for largest deficit overcome in a win is 20, set on August 21, 2003, when it defeated the Washington Mystics at the MCI Center, 65-60.
THE STARTING BLOCK
The Liberty was able to reverse a troubling trend in its 85-55 win over Washington on Sunday afternoon. Through the 1st 9 games of the season, New York excelled at getting off to hot starts, averaging 22.6 ppg in the opening period. Over the next 8 games, New York led after the opening period just once and saw its 1st half scoring drop by nearly 9 points per game. Against Washington, the Liberty erupted for a season-high 30 points in the opening quarter to take a commanding lead it never gave up, and was on top 45-29 at the half.
Head coach Bill Laimbeer shifted the Liberty starting lineup against the Washington Mystics on July 16, going with the 6th different starting 5 over the 1st 18 games of the season. Due to player injuries, players missing time to compete overseas, and searching for the right lineup combinations, New York has seen several iterations of its starting lineup, opting to combine Bria Hartley, Epiphanny Prince, Shavonte Zellous, Tina Charles, and Kia Vaughn for the 1st time this year.
Shavonte Zellous continues to lead the Liberty in net plus/minus this year, and is amongst the best in the WNBA, posting a net rating of +16.6, which ranks 3rd in the entire league, trailing just Brittney Griner (+17.1) and Elena Delle Donne (+16.9). While her raw rating of +49 is not as high compared to her peers, where Zellous continues to make a huge impact is on the Liberty’s defense. Because Zellous is a player with the ability to defend multiple positions well, New York allows 6.3 more points per 40 possessions when she is off the floor. Zellous is 4th on the team averaging 12.2 ppg.
BRIA LEADS THE WAY
Bria Hartley led the Liberty in scoring for the 1st time this season, posting 15 points in a balanced offensive effort that came in an 85-55 victory over the Washington Mystics on July 16. Hartley shot 6-of-10 from the field, while also leading New York with 23 minutes played, and drilled a season-best 3 3-pointers. It was her 8th start of the year, and 1st since June 23 at Connecticut. She is averaging 5.4 ppg this season with 5 games scoring in double figures.
BENCH MOB: THE SEQUEL
Last season, New York had some of the best bench production in the league, ranking 4th in the WNBA with 28.3 bench points per game. Entering the game against Washington on July 16, the Liberty was last in the league, averaging just 14.8 ppg from its reserves. That changed with a 41 point effort from the 2nd unit, the most in any game this year for the Liberty. Sugar Rodgers led the way with 14 points off the bench, and every single Liberty player recorded at least one field goal in the win. New York also saw its season average improve to 16.6 bench points per game.
REALLY BIG WIN FOR THE LIBERTY
New York’s 85-55 victory over the Washington Mystics on July 16 represented its largest margin of victory this season, and its largest since posting a 91-59 win over the Indiana Fever on June 3, 2016. The Liberty limited Washington to just 27.7 percent from the field, its 2nd lowest opponent field goal percentage of the season, and 2nd time New York limited an opponent to under 30.0 percent from the field. New York leads the league with a .403 defensive field goal percentage.