NEW YORK, N.Y. – SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 – The New York Liberty saw its historic 2015 season come to an end with a 66-51 loss to the Indiana Fever in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Liberty finished the regular season with a franchise-best 23-11 overall mark, posting the best overall record in the WNBA for the first time. New York also advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2010 and fell just one win shy of returning to the WNBA Finals for what would have been the first time since 2002.
“It’s disappointing and unfortunate; all of the above adjective that you could use to talk about a lost series,” said Bill Laimbeer. “You look back on the season and we say we were the Number One seed and we didn’t get it done. Are we disappointed, yes, but at the same time when we started the season it was an adventure and it as embarking upon an adventure to compete for a Championship. We did compete for a Championship; we just didn’t compete in the Finals. It is a great learning experience for us. It’s a great start.”
After getting off to a slow start in the first half, New York rallied in the second, shaving what was once an 18-point deficit all the way down to four points early in the fourth quarter, before Indiana regrouped and pushed its lead back into double figures.
The Liberty fell behind early, shooting just 7-of-30 from the field with 11 turnovers as the Fever opened a 27-18 lead in the second quarter.
However despite difficultly on the offensive end, New York trailed by just 11 points at the half, but was unable to mount any comeback early in the third because of Marissa Coleman.
Coleman hit three 3-pointers over the first 3:31 of the second half, stifling all efforts the Liberty made to get back into the game. Eventually New York’s offensive came to life.
First a 3-pointer from Epiphanny Prince, then two possession later, it was Essence Carson hitting a long-distance shot from the left wing. That made it a 12-point game before Candice Wiggins got in on the action, nailing a triple to make it 49-40 late in the third quarter.
The momentum shift lasted into the start of the fourth. Wiggins would hit another three, she shot 3-of-6 from deep to finish with a game-high 15 points, and then banked a shot off the glass at 8:21 to make it just a 49-45 Indiana lead.
The Fever rattled off six points in the next minute to quickly push the lead back to double figures, which was the start of a 10-0 run that essentially sealed the win.
While Wiggins led the Liberty with 15 points, Tina Charles posted her third double-double of the postseason with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Coleman scored 15 to lead the Fever.
“The best thing about this season is I gained sisters,” said Charles. “This team un-matched to any other team that I’ve ever been on and it’s only my sixth year in the league. We have great characters and just people who have pride in who they are, on and off the court. I think the thing that hurts the most is we’re not going to see each other anymore because we were really like a family.”