WASHINGTON, D.C. – SEPTEMBER 20, 2015 – The New York Liberty rode a hot start to a wire-to-wire 86-68 victory over the Washington Mystics in must-win game two of the WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center.
With the best-of-three series tied at 1-1, the teams will head back to New York City, where Madison Square Garden will be the scene for a winner take all game three. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m., on Tuesday Sept. 22, and the game will air on ESPN2.
Epiphanny Prince set the tone early, completing a four-point play on the very first possession of the game, and then finished an and-one opportunity to give the Liberty a 9-2 lead 94 seconds into the action.
New York would lead by 19 points in the first half, and 26 late in the second, staving off any Mystics comeback attempt they could muster.
Following an Ivory Latta 3-pointer near the end of the first quarter that cut the New York lead down to eight, the Liberty opened the second period on an 11-0 run, doubling up the Mystics, 30-15, after five-straight points from Sugar Rodgers.
That advantage ballooned to 19 as Washington was shooting just 4-of-22 (.182) from the field, with New York firing on all cylinders.
Eventually the Mystics would heat up, but only from downtown. Washington finished with 11 made field goals in the first half, but eight of them were from 3-point range. Tayler Hill powered the comeback, nailing 5-of-6 first-half 3-point attempts, allowing the Mystics to pull within 44-37 at the half.
The New York deficit was cut to seven early in the third, but then Tina Charles completely took over the game, scoring 17 of her game-high 22, to make sure the Liberty was on the way to a comfortable win.
Stefanie Dolson made her way to the basket to make it just 48-41 fewer than 90 seconds into the third quarter, then following a pair of Carolyn Swords makes at the line, Charles scored on 6-of-8 possessions to ensure the Mystics never drew any closer
Charles hit three long jumpers consecutively, but with the lead still only at eight, she drained a pair of mid-range fade away 11-footers to push it back into double figures. She ended her third-quarter tear with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, just her second of the season and third of her career.
Swords scored a game-high 10 points in the first half, and finished with 12 on 5-of-6 shooting with six rebounds. Prince finished with 11 points, scoring nine in the first quarter.
After scoring just six bench points in game one on Friday night, the Liberty was back to getting strong production from its second unit. Rodgers finished with 15 points, Essence Carson added nine and Kiah Stokes scored six points with seven rebounds.
The Liberty also really controlled the paint. Washington shot 12-of-21 from three but only made 10 two pointers. In its two wins over the Mystics this season, New York has won the points in the paint battle by a combined 80-24.
Turnovers also plagued New York in game one, where 18 giveaways led to 17 points for Washington. Sunday was an entirely different story. The Liberty gave it away just eight times, and outscored the Mystics 16-4 off turnovers; New York is now 14-3 when outscoring an opponent off turnovers.
Hill led Washington with 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Latta finished with 15.
New York Liberty Postgame Notes
- New York improved to 5-2 all-time against Washington in the postseason.
- The Liberty is now 8-17 all-time on the road in the WNBA Playoffs.
- Charles scored 17 of her game-high 22 points in the third quarter and is averaging 22.0 ppg in the series.
- The Liberty scored 32 bench points on Sunday after getting just six points from its reserves in game one.
- After opening the game on a 9-2 run, New York never trailed and led by as many as 26.
- The Liberty outrebounded Washington 33-24 and outscored the Mystics in the paint 36-10
- New York turned it over just eight times after committing 18 turnovers in game one.