NEW YORK, N.Y. – SEPTEMBER 9, 2015 – The New York Liberty defeated the Connecticut Sun 74-64 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden to clinch home court throughout the WNBA Playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
The Liberty never trailed and the outcome was rarely in doubt as it cruised to a franchise-record 23rd win of the season in wire-to-wire victory.
New York had already locked up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2002. Now, it is the first team from the Eastern Conference to secure the WNBA’s top seed since head coach Bill Laimbeer’s Detroit Shock squad did so back in 2007.
Three players scored in double figures for New York, led by Epiphanny Prince, who turned in an impressive stat line of 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals.
Tina Charles posted her 12th double-double of the year, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds, eclipsing 2,000-career rebounds in the process, – just the 18th player in WNBA history to do so. She now has 3,400 points and 2,011 boards, the 15th player to post those numbers in a career, and she is just in her sixth season.
Tanisha Wright rounded out the double-digit efforts for New York, scoring 11 points and four assists. Carolyn Swords grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds to go along with six points.
New York scored the first nine points of the game, and with the exception of a brief period late in the second quarter when the Sun managed to pull within one, the Liberty led comfortably for nearly the entire game.
Prince nailed a 3-pointer and then Charles was able to get a jump hook to fall to cap a 9-0 spurt to start the game. New York shot 62.5 percent from the field in the opening period while Connecticut hit just three field goals as the Liberty opened up a 23-13 lead.
The Sun did bounce back, pulling within 29-28 on a Kelsey Bone jumper with three minutes and change to play in the opening half, but after a timeout the Liberty broke the game open once again.
A 3-pointer from Prince, followed by a Charles layup quickly made it 34-28, and was the start of a 10-0 run to end the half, a stretch that turned into 16 unanswered after New York stayed hot to start the third.
Just two and a half minutes into the third quarter, Prince hit a 17-footer to give New York its largest lead of the night, 45-28. A persistent Connecticut squad would rally once again. Seconds into the fourth quarter Kayla Pederson nailed a 15-footer to make it 53-50, but it would not stay a one possession game for long.
Prince and Essence Carson connected on mid-range jumpers on consecutive offensive sets and the lead would not dip below six points the rest of the way.
New York has two regular season games remaining and will wrap up the home portion of its schedule on Friday, Sept. 11, when it hosts the Washington Mystics at Madison Square Garden. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
New York Liberty Postgame Notes
- New York clinches home court advantage throughout the WNBA Playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
- The Liberty picked up its franchise-record 23rd win of the season, breaking the previous mark of 22 set during the 2010 season.
- New York sweeps Connecticut for just the second time in franchise history and the first since 1999, when the Sun franchise was in Orlando.
- Tina Charles becamse the 18th player in WNBA history to eclipse 2,000-career rebounds; she posted a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds and now has 3,400-career points and 2,011 rebounds.
- Epiphanny Prince posted her fifth 20-plus point game of the season, leading all scorers with 25 points.
- Prince and Kiah Stokes were presented with their WNBA Eastern Conference Player and Rookie of the Month for August awards prior to the game.
- New York improved to 12-4 at Madison Square Garden.