NEW YORK, N.Y. – JUNE 27, 2015 – In the midst of a difficult stretch where five of six games will come on the road, the Liberty will return to Madison Square Garden to host the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday, June 28, at 3 p.m. At the game, New York will hold Maddie’s 19th Birthday Celebration, presented by Fidelis Care.
New York is coming off a 71-62 setback at Tulsa on Friday night, one which saw the Liberty hold the high-scoring Shock to just 33.9 percent shooting, a season low. However, New York committed a season-high 26 turnovers and saw Tulsa connect on 10 shots from beyond-the-arc, the third team to display that kind of long-range proficiency against the Libs this season.
Third-year guard Sugar Rodgers led the way offensively for New York, scoring a game-high 12 points with a couple of 3-pointer to reach the double-figure plateau for the fourth-straight game. The Liberty saw Carolyn Swords come off the bench and add eight points on 4-of-7 shooting; her 60.0 percent shooting rate leads the WNBA approaching the end of the first month of the season.
For the Sparks, injuries have been the story early in the season, as Los Angeles stands as the only team in the league without a win, and it has used a different starting lineup in every game.
That being said, the team is starting to rebound from the slow start, and during the East Coast road swing has nearly stolen wins at Connecticut and Washington, who sit first and second respectively in the conference standings.
Some of that can be attributed to the return of Nneka Ogwumike, who missed the first four games of the year with an ankle injury. During the current road trip, she is averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
A SPOON FULL OF SUGAR
Sugar Rodgers started the second-consecutive game of her three-year WNBA career on Friday and led all scorers with 12 points in the loss to Tulsa. On June 21 at Atlanta, she started her first-ever game and did it with a bang, scoring 17 points, including two 3-pointers, while shooting 4-for-8 from the field. The Friday matchup at Tulsa was her fourth-consecutive game in double figures. She is averaging 12.5 ppg in the last four games, and 8.5 on the season.
ALL-STAR VOTING UNDERWAY
Voting for the 2015 WNBA All-Star Game is underway and now fans have the ability to vote for any WNBA player for a chance to send them to the All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun Arena on July 25. There are four ways to vote and fans can pick up to 10 players each day with each method. Tag a player on Facebook or Twitter using the #wnbaballot hashtag, or vote on each individual player page on WNBA.com or the WNBA mobile app. Voting runs through July 9, and the starters will be announced on July 14.
CARRY ON CAROLYN
Carolyn Swords has quietly made integral contributions for the Liberty off the bench this season and after another solid performance at Tulsa on June 26, leads the league with a .600 field goal percentage. On June 21 at Atlanta, she scored a season high 12 points for the second time, leading all scorers with 10 in the first half. She also played a season high 27 minutes at Atlanta, 10 more than her highest minute total prior. She has scored in double figures three out of the Liberty’s eight games. Swords’ presence is also being felt on the defensive end, she swatted a career-best five shots at Atlanta, and ranks sixth the league, averaging1.5 blocks per game.
PROTECTING THE BASKETBALL
New York committed a season-high 26 turnovers in the loss at Tulsa on June 26, which led directly to 18 Shock points the other direction. The Liberty rank 11th in the league, averaging 18.5 turnovers per game, and have seen all four losses come when it lost the turnover battle, posting a 2-4 record in those games.
DEFENDING THE PERIMETER
The Liberty continue to lead the WNBA, limiting opponents to 35.8 percent shooting from the field, however, this comes in spite of the fact that New York ranks 10th in the league in defensive 3-point field goal percentage. The Shock became the third team this season to hit 10 shots from beyond-the-arc against New York, and teams are shooting 35.8 percent from long-distance against the Liberty, tied for 10th in the league. Tulsa shot 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from three, but were just 28.9 percent inside the 3-point line.
LIVING UP TO HER REPUTATION
Rookie Kiah Stokes came into the league known as an outstanding shot blocker, and early in her pro career she is living up to that reputation. She had a season high four blocks at Tulsa on June 26. She has now recorded at least one block in six out of eight games this season. She blocked two shots against Phoenix on 6/11, swatted three shots in the game vs. Indiana on 6/9, recorded two blocks at Washington 6/6 and three in her rookie debut vs. Atlanta on 6/5. She is fourth in the WNBA with 1.9 blocks per game, and third in the league with 15 overall. With Stokes holding down the interior, New York ranks second in the league, averaging 5.75 blocks per game.