ATLANTA, GA. – JUNE 21, 2015 – Coming off consecutive losses for the first time this season the New York Liberty stormed out of the gate and were all over the Atlanta Dream in a 73-64 win on Sunday afternoon at Philips Arena.
It was not a wire-to-wire victory for New York (4-3), although it sure felt that way, when after facing an early 6-2 deficit the Liberty responded to take a 21-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and it never looked back.
Head Coach Bill Laimbeer opted to change the starting lineup for the second time this year, and New York responded with fervor early in the game, holding the Dream (3-5) to 23.5 percent shooting (4-of-17) in the first quarter, while forcing five turnovers, which led directly to eight points.
It was a departure from what transpired just 48 hours earlier, as New York spotted Indiana a 32-12 lead through 10 minutes of action on Friday night, and was never able to draw any closer than seven down the stretch.
On Sunday, the Liberty dictated tempo and appeared to be rejuvenated on the defensive end, playing to its strengths particularly in the paint where it finished with a 36-14 scoring advantage, its largest margin of the year, thanks in large part to Carolyn Swords’ season-high 12 points.
Swords was instrumental in building that early lead, scoring six points in the first quarter and leading all players with 10 at the half. Atlanta would pull within 28-21 on an Angel McCoughtry fast-break layup midway through the second, but that was the closest the Dream would get until very late in the fourth quarter.
Kiah Stokes ended a nearly 3-minute field goal drought as Sugar Rodgers fed her under the rim for an easy two, and the Liberty managed to extend the lead to 40-28 at the half, with Brittany Boyd completing a 3-point play with just over a minute remaining.
Early in the second half it was the three ball that allowed New York to quickly push its lead up to 21 points, its largest in any game so far this season.
The Liberty opened the third quarter on a 13-4 run as on the first possession of the half, Rodgers connected for a trey from the top of the key to make it a 15-point lead. A few moments later, Boyd drained a triple of her own to extend the advantage to 46-28.
After seeing that lead balloon to 53-32 as Swords connected on a 10-foot jumper to match her season high of 12 points, Atlanta closed strong, pulling within 55-41 heading into the fourth thanks to a 9-0 run.
Boyd provided the answer for NY, sprinting down the floor in under eight seconds as time was about to expire, getting a running layup to drop with 0.2 remaining, to push the lead back to 14.
The Dream’s field goal percentage hovered around 25.0 percent for much of the game and Atlanta only managed to get up to a season-low 29.7 percent thanks to shooting 7-of-15 from the field and 4-of-8 from 3-point range in the fourth.
It is the second time this season New York has held an opponent under 30.0 percent shooting, as the Liberty limited Phoenix to 29.2 percent in its 68-57 win on June 11.
Tina Charles recorded her third double-double of the season and the 100th of her career with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Rodgers received her first-career start and responded with a season-high 17 points, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers to go along with a team-high four assists.
New York returns to action on Friday, June 26, when heads out to Tulsa, Okla., to face the Tulsa Shock at the BOK Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET).
- New York snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 4-3 overall.
- The Liberty now lead the series 20-10 overall, and have won five straight in the series.
- Tina Charles had her 100th career double-double for the Liberty with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
- New York had four players in double digits, led by rookie Brittany Boyd with 18 points off the bench.
- Sugar Rodgers scored 17 points in a starting role for New York, while Carolyn Swords had 12 points off the bench. Swords also had a career-high five blocked shots.
- New York’s bench outscored Atlanta’s 34-13.
- New York outscored Atlanta in the paint 36-14.
- Tanisha Wright was ejected after double technical in the 2nd period, leaving the game with only 4 points.