NEW YORK LIBERTY (15-12) at CONNECTICUT SUN (18-9)
Friday, Aug. 18 • Uncasville, Conn. (Mohegan Sun Arena) • 7:00 PM (ET)
The New York Liberty opens a challenging slate of weekend games by paying a visit to the red-hot Connecticut Sun on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at 7 PM. The Sun is on a 6-game winning streak to take command of the top spot in the East and 3rd in the overall standings, but New York has won 3-straight and 7-of-10 to move back to 3 games above .500 for the 1st time since mid-June. Connecticut won the 1st two meetings of the season, but New York battled back with a 96-80 win back on July 19 prior to the All-Star Break.
• The New York Liberty won its 3rd game in a row, picking up an 83-69 win over the Los Angeles Sparks last Sunday at The Garden. Tina Charles led the way with 21 points, while Shavonte Zellous (19) and Epiphanny Prince (18) were also both in double figures. For New York, the win snapped a stretch of 5-straight losses to the Sparks, who were limited to just .413 shooting from the field.
• With last Sunday’s win, the Liberty improved to 15-12 overall, moving 3 games above .500 for the 1st time since it was 7-4 following a 102-93 overtime win at Dallas.
• Shavonte Zellous scored 19 points with 6 rebounds in the win over the Sparks, her 3rd-straight game in double figures, while hitting a season-high 3 3-pointers. Zellous is averaging 18.3 ppg over the last three games.
• The Liberty’s win over the Sparks was highlighted by a 20-0 run in the 2nd quarter, which was New York’s longest unanswered scoring stretch of the season.
• Bria Hartley had her season-long stretch of 4-straight games in double figures come to an end against Los Angeles, but she still matched her season-high of 5 assists.
Averaging 16.1 ppg and leading the WNBA with 11.7 rpg, Jonquel Jones is enjoying a breakout season for the Sun. She was limited to just 14 points and 10 rebounds, below her season averages, when New York was victorious over the Sun back in July, and the Liberty front court will again be charged with limiting her impact, particularly on the offensive glass. It will come down to Kia Vaughn, Kiah Stokes, and Amanda Zahui B at the 5 to matchup with Jones throughout Friday night’s game.
Behind a monster game from Tina Charles, the Liberty picked up a 96-80 win over the Sun on July 19 at The Garden. Charles scored 28 points on 12-of-21 shooting and hauled in 17 rebounds, as the Liberty scored a record 96 points in its all-time series against the Sun franchise. New York pulled away after a tight 1st half by outscoring Connecticut 29-13 in the 3rd quarter, and the Liberty led by as many as 22 in the 2nd half.
LIBERTY PARTNERS WITH RISE TO HOST 1ST-EVER UNITY GAME
The Liberty will partner with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to host a Unity Game at The Garden on Sunday, Aug. 20, when hosts to the Minnesota Lynx. Prior to tipoff, the Liberty and RISE will host a panel discussion from 1-2:30 PM in the Madison Square Garden Theater lobby, featuring a diverse group of athletes, law enforcement officials, and community activists, with a goal of developing a solution-oriented agenda focusing on creating positive change in the community. In the moments leading up to the game, the New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx players will lock arms in a show of solidarity on court during the performance of the national anthem. Additional information about the Unity Game can be found at nyliberty.com.
CHANGES PAYING DIVIDENDS
Prior to it game against the Washington Mystics on July 16, the Liberty made a change to the starting lineup, inserting Bria Hartley at point guard, while allowing Epiphanny Prince to play shooting guard, while Sugar Rodgers would provide fire power off the bench. Since then, New York has gone 7-3, and seen improvement across the board in nearly every offensive category, in some places drastically, particularly with a scoring average jump of nearly 5 points per game.
GOING FROM 0-20 IN ABOUT 5:30
The Liberty put together it’s longest unanswered scoring run of the season, rattling off 20-straight points in its win over the LA Sparks on Aug. 13, turning an 11 point deficit into a 9 point lead. Trailing 33-22 with 6:39 left in the 1st half, Bill Laimbeer called timeout, and coming out of the stoppage, the Kia Vaughn hit a layup and the team got rolling downhill from there.
• The 20-0 run went from 6:20 on the clock until there were 50 seconds remaining in the 1st half and the Sparks stopped the scoreless drought
• The Sparks missed 8-straight field goal attempts and turned it over 4 times over that stretch
• New YorK shot just 6-of-13 from the field during that streak but when 6-of-7at the free throw line
• Four different players scored for New York during the run (Vaughn, Prince, Charles, Zellous)
LIBERTY FACTS & FIGURES – KEY NUMBERS
The number of points that Tina Charles needs to move past Chamique Holdsclaw (4,716) for 20th place in WNBA history in scoring. Charles currently ranks 21st with 4,640 points.
New York limited Los Angeles to just 8 2nd quarter points when the teams met on 8/13 at The Garden. It was the lowest point total for a Liberty opponent in a quarter this season, and the lowest scoring output for the Sparks during any quarter in 2017.
Shavonte Zellous is averaging 18.3 ppg over the last 3 games, scoring 19 points with a season-high 3 3-pointers against the Sparks on 8/13.
The Liberty is leading the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage at .415. New York has led the league in defensive shooting percentage in back-to-back seasons.
Tina Charles has posted a double-double in 54.5 percent of her career games played. She has 140 double-doubles in her career and leads the Liberty with 11 double-doubles this season.
The Liberty matched its season-high of 10 made 3-pointers during its win over the Sparks last Sunday. Shavonte Zellous nailed 3 3-pointers and overall New York saw 5 different players hit a least one triple.