New York, NY – June 5, 2018 – A Marissa Coleman three-point jumper with 3:23 remaining gave the New York Liberty a one-point edge over the Phoenix Mercury. However, the Mercury responded a minute later and never looked back, taking the game 80-74 at Madison Square Garden, Tuesday afternoon. Tina Charles provided 25 points for the Liberty in what was a historic game for her, and Bria Hartley chipped in 18.
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout, including 17 lead changes, as neither team could pull ahead. While New York (2-3) dominated on the glass to the tune of a 39-21 advantage, Phoenix (5-3) made the most of its looks, shooting 50 percent from the field. The Mercury also got to the line 19 times, hitting 17 of them, while the Liberty made just three out of five.
Head coach Katie Smith began. “It was a tough one. Lots of opportunities to win this game tonight; they made plays we didn’t. Didn’t get the stops when we needed to. Lots of fouls. Lots of little things I think over the whole game that obviously put us in that position and we couldn’t quite get ourselves pulled away.”
With a driving layup in the first quarter, Charles secured the 4876th point of her prolific career. She surpassed Hall of Famer and three-time MVP Sheryl Swoopes to move up to 19th on the WNBA all-time scoring list. The contest marked her third game in a row with at least 23 points, and she has yet to score less than 18 points this season. Charles, however, was more focused on the outcome than personal accolades.
Charles stated. “Everything that happens is in our control. Just executing at the end, locking down, playing defense and just the little things. We just hurt ourselves. We have a great team and great individuals in here [locker room] that can play. I think we proved that we can hang with anyone in this league. It’s just executing down the stretch.”
Hartley had her highest scoring output of the season in an arduous team effort, finishing with 18 points, including 12 in the first half. It is her highest point total since June 22, 2014, when she dropped a career-high 26 points against Seattle.
After exploding for 34 points in Saturday’s overtime win at Indiana, Kia Nurse could not replicate such performance against Phoenix. The rookie finished with five points, the lowest output of her career and her first time in single digits.
The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Liberty, and they now sit at 2-3 on the season. They host undefeated Connecticut Sun Thursday, June 7 at the Westchester County Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (ET).