NEW YORK, N.Y. – JULY 16, 2015 – The New York Liberty plays its second-consecutive home game in as many days when it welcomes Eastern Conference foe, the Connecticut Sun, to The Garden on Thursday night at 7 PM.
NEW YORK GAME NOTES: CLICK HERE
ALL-TIME: Connecticut lead 39-31
2015 SEASON: First meeting
LAST MEETING: NYL 71, CON 66 (August 8, 2014)
The Liberty will play its last game at Madison Square Garden until August 2nd when it matches up with the Sun tonight. Although it is only the middle of July, this game feels weighted with potential playoff implications. New York (8-5) and Connecticut (7-5) currently sit second and third in the conference respectively, trailing only the Chicago Sky (9-5), a team that both the Liberty and the Sun have beaten once, but Connecticut lost to twice – in back to back games on July 2nd and 12th.
Yesterday, the Liberty beat the San Antonio Stars for the first time since 2011, 84-68, in a match up in which balance was the name of the game – each player on the Liberty had at least one field goal. Essence Carson, coming off the bench for the first time this season, led the way with 16 points of 7-of-12 shooting.
Fresh off being named an All-Star starter in the front court for the east, Tina Charles tallied 14 points and 6 rebounds. Epiphanny Prince, in her first game at Madison Square Garden with the Liberty, and Sugar Rodgers both added 13 points for New York. With Rodgers and Carson coming off the bench, the Liberty tallied 45 bench points, their most of the season, almost doubling the Stars’ 23.
With the win, the Liberty is now 3-1 against the Western Conference – who they will see much more of next week. After this game against the Connecticut Sun, the Liberty pack up their bags and head to the west coast where they will play three games in five days against the Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm, and Los Angeles Sparks before the All-Star break.
This is the first meeting between New York and Connecticut this season. They will meet again twice in the middle and end of August, and play in the series finale on September 9th against Madison Square Garden. In the Eastern Conference where the standings are neck and neck, each eastern conference matchup is like a playoff game.
Coach Laimbeer knows that.
“It’s going to be a big game. We know that they are wanting to win this game, to get back into the race for the top spot, and we have to take care of business.”
Connecticut is currently on a four game losing streak, where it have dropped a pair of games to the Chicago Sky and lost to the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx. This streak comes after the Sun started the season scorching hot – with a 7-1 record in the first weeks of play.
#REPRESENTINGNYC #TCinCT CHARLES VOTED ALL-STAR STARTER
For the second time in her career, New York star center Tina Charles has been voted by the fans to represented the Eastern Conference as a starter in the WNBA All-Star Game. Charles, who leads the Liberty in scoring and rebounding, and is amongst the league leaders in both categories, finished third in the East front-court players to secure her fourth-straight trip to the All-Star game (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015). She has turned in an impressive campaign for New York, averaging 16.0 ppg, which ranks 7th in the league and 8.7 rpg, good for fifth. Charles has four 20-plus point games this season and five double-doubles.
A PRINCE IN THE GARDEN
Brooklyn native Epiphanny Prince returned to Madison Square Garden this time as a member of the New York Liberty and impressed in the first home appearance with her new team, efficiently scoring 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting with four assists. The former Murry Bergtraum and Rutgers star, who was acquired in a blockbuster off season trade in exchange for guard Cappie Pondexter, missed the first 10 games of the season to compete in the Eurobasket 2015 Tournament. On July 12 at Atlanta, she made her first start in a New York uniform, and scored 14 points, all in the second half. Prince’s offensive ability was missed early in the year, as she entered the season with a career scoring average of 14.1 ppg, but New York went 6-4 in the month of June, ending that stretch just a game out of first in the Eastern Conference. Prince is averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds in her first three games.
Center Carolyn Swords has proven to be a consistent weapon for New York all season long and that success was rewarded with her first start of the season when New York topped San Antonio 84-68 on July 15. It was Swords’ first WNBA start since the 2013 season, after she sat out all of last year due to injury. Naturally she contributed in the same manner she has all season long, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with four rebounds and a block in 21 minutes of action. Swords has appeared in all 13 Liberty games this season, and is averaging 7.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 1.1 bpg.
Even before Epiphanny Prince returned to the lineup, New York was able to put its depth on display, as the Liberty are averaging 27.9 ppg from its bench which ranks third in the WNBA, and the team has won the bench scoring battle nine times, including in each of the last fve games. For the season the Liberty bench holds a 27.9-18.9 advantage over the opposition.