NEW YORK LIBERTY (2-2) vs. LOS ANGELES SPARKS (2-2)
Tuesday, May 30 • New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden) • 7 PM (ET)
The New York Liberty will open its longest home stand of the season, five-straight at The Garden, when it hosts the defending WNBA Champion Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday night at 7 PM on ESPN2. Last season, Los Angeles went 3-0 against the Liberty, which included an overtime victory at The Garden last May. 2016 WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike is leading the Sparks and ranks second in the league averaging 21.2 ppg.
• The New York Liberty split a pair of games on its 1st road trip of the season, winning 69-67 at Phoenix last Tuesday night and falling at Seattle 87-81 on Friday. Tina Charles, and Epiphanny Prince led the way for the Liberty, with Prince scoring a season-high 24 points in the win over Phoenix, which included nailing the game winner in 4.5 to play, while Charles poured in 28 points and 9 rebounds at Seattle.
• New York will open its longest home stand of the year, 5-straight at The Garden beginning with Tuesday night’s matchup with the Sparks. Following this stretch, the Liberty will see 11-of-15 games played come on the road between June 14 and August 4.
• Sugar Rodgers nailed a season-high 6 triples at Seattle on Friday night, one shy of her own personal best, which doubles as the Liberty’s single-game record. She is averaging 4.5 3-pointers per game, on pace to hit 94 this season.
• The Liberty went 0-3 against the Sparks last season, falling in the only game played at The Garden, 79-72, in overtime on May 21. The Liberty led by 7 with 1:08 to play, before Kristi Toliver completed the comeback by hitting a 3-pointer with 21.5 remaining to knot the score.
Early in the season guard Jewell Loyd is the WNBA’s leader in scoring, averaging 26.0 ppg as she looks to break out as an elite offensive threat in her 3rd year in the league. The Liberty will look to Epiphanny Prince and Sugar Rodgers to counter that scoring punch. Both have already posted big scoring games, although not at the same time. Rodgers went for 20 points with 4 3-pointers against Minnesota, while Prince is coming off a 24-point performance in the victory at Phoenix on Tuesday night, when she connected four times from the outside.
Nneka Ogwumike scored 22 points with 14 rebounds as the Sparks picked up a 77-67 win over the Liberty on July 3 at the Staples Center. New York was wrapping up a 3-game road trip, and was led by Tina Charles, who scored a game-high 27 points with 9 rebounds.
MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT PRESENTED BY DELTA AIR LINES
The New York Liberty will host its first-ever Military Appreciation Night presented by Delta Air Lines on Tuesday, May 30, when it welcomes the defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks to The Garden. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Liberty Water Bottle, courtesy of Delta. The game will feature a number of on court and in arena activations for members of the United States armed services, including an on court recognition ceremony, standing alongside players during the performance of the national anthem, and a halftime fan tunnel.
OLYMPIC RING CEREMONY
Prior to tipoff on Tuesday night, Liberty forward Tina Charles will be formally presented with her commemorative 2016 USA Basketball Ring. Charles won her 2nd Olympic Gold Medal as the starting forward for Team USA at the 2016 summer games in Rio, she had previously won gold in London in 2012. Charles became the 1st-ever active play of the New York Liberty to win an Olympic Gold Medal while competing for the team.
NATIONAL TEAM DUTY
Following Tuesday night’s game against the Sparks, the New York Liberty will be losing a pair of players in Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn to European National Team duty for the 2017 Eurobasket Women FIBA World Championship qualifying tournament. Prince will be competing for the Russian National Team while Vaughn will be playing for the Eurobasket host nation of the Czech Republic. The 16-team international tournament begins with group play on June 16 and runs through June 25.
THE BIG THREE
With the return of a healthy Epiphanny Prince, the New York Liberty has its own version of the Big Three with Prince, Tina Charles, and Sugar Rodgers. One of them has led the Liberty in scoring in each game so far this season, and combined they are averaging 45.5 ppg, which accounts for 61.9 percent of the Liberty’s offense. They have 4 20-point games between them so far this season, with both Charles (28) and Rodgers (21) going off for 20-plus at Seattle on Friday.
SHE’S GOT THAT ALL-AROUND GAME…
What statistical category does Sugar Rodgers rank the highest in the WNBA? Right now it is blocked shots, where she is tied for 8th in the league with 1.3 per game. Not many players fill out the stat sheet quite like Rodgers, who while known as a deadly 3-point shooter, impacts every game in a variety or ways that keep her name sprinkled throughout the league leaders. Rodger is also currently 18th in scoring (14.5 ppg), 24th in rebounding (5.3 rpg), and 32nd in assists (2.3 apg).
…BUT SHE’S REALLY GOOD AT SHOOTING THE 3
In 2016, Sugar Rodgers set a New York Liberty single-season record with 86 3-pointers, besting the previous all-time mark of 78, set by Shameka Christon in 2010. It was one of the top-10 seasons in WNBA history for made triples, and she trailed just Diana Taurasi last season. So far this year, Rodgers has hit 11 triples, an average of 2.8 per game, and is on pace to hit 94 treys, which would break her own record. Rodgers already ranks 9th in Liberty history with 162 made 3-pointers.