CHICAGO, ILL. – JULY 8, 2016 – Tanisha Wright broke an 85-85 tie with a long jumper with 29.4 to play and the Liberty came up with a pair of defensive stops down the stretch to pick up an 88-85 win over the Chicago Sky on Friday night at Allstate Arena.
Despite the Liberty (14-6) leading by as many as 15 in the second half, the game tightened heading into the fourth quarter, and Chicago (7-11) twice knotted the score late in the fourth quarter but was never able to retake the lead as New York had an answer each time.
Following an Allie Quigley jumper at 3:10, Sugar Rodgers dialed up a big 3-pointer, her fifth of the evening, to put her team back on top, only to see Jamierra Faulkner complete a 3-point play on the other end.
Tina Charles put the Liberty back up by two with a layup on the ensuing possession, but Tamera Young answered right back to make it 85-85 with 1:58 remaining, where the score remained until Wright’s late game winner.
It was career-victory No. 200 for Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer, who became the 7th coach in WNBA history to accomplish the feat and boasts a career record of 200-151. Wright’s free throw with 15.1 on the clock gave her 3,000 career points.
Charles, the league’s leading scorer, finished with 29 points and nine boards to power the Liberty offensive attack, and Rodgers finished with 21, shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point range.
The Liberty got off to a strong start, leading 11-6 early in the game after Rodgers pulled up for a triple in transition, and thanks to Charles’ 11 first-quarter points, New York was in front 24-22 after 10 minutes of action.
The lead quickly grew to double figures as the Liberty opened the second period on an 8-0 run, capped by a pair of Rebecca Allen free throws. The New York advantage reached as high as 13 in the first half, 41-28, after Carolyn Swords cleaned up an offensive rebound and went off the glass for two.
New York started the 2nd half on a 5-0 run to rebuild the double-digit lead as Rodgers hit a three on the first possession and Swin Cash was good from the baseline to make it 55-44, leading to a Sky timeout.
After the brief stoppage the Liberty kept rolling, making it nine unanswered to open the third as Charles went high off the glass for a bucket, making it 59-44. More than three minutes into the period Allie Quigley snapped the Sky out of their shooting drought with a corner trey.
That basket marked the start of a 15-6 Chicago run that ended with a Jamierra Falkner 3-pointer to pull the Sky back within four, 65-61, and the margin was only five heading into the final period.
Down to two as Quigley stroked her sixth triple of the game, 71-69, and had a chance to take the lead. Charles hook shot makes it 78-75
The Liberty returns to action on Sunday, July 10, when it hosts the San Antonio Stars for #ShowUp For Daughters Day presented by Fidelis Care at Madison Square Garden. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
• Bill Laimbeer picked up career victory No. 200, becoming the 7th coach in league history to do so. His career record is 200-151 and he is 63-59 with the Liberty.
• Tanisha Wright scored the final three points of the game and in doing so reached 3,000 for her career.
• New York improved to 11-1 when leading after the first quarter
• The Liberty is now 5-0 in one possession ball games
• Sugar Rodgers hit five 3-pointers and leads the WNBA with 62 3-pointers this season
• New York was outscored in the paint for just the fifth time this season and is now 2-3 in those contests
• The Liberty outscored Chicago 16-3 in second chance opportunities and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds