NEW YORK LIBERTY (0-1) vs. MINNESOTA LYNX (1-1)
Friday, May 25 • White Plains, NY (Westchester County Center) • 7:30 PM (ET)
TV: League Pass, MSG+
The New York Liberty seek its first win of the budding season and open its home slate against the 2017 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx. This will mark the first time the Liberty play on their new home-floor at Westchester County Center.
Coming off the bench, rookie Kia Nurse poured in 11 points in the first-half during the Liberty’s lone game this season. She finished with 17 points, second-most on the team, as one of three players in double-figures.
Against Chicago, Amanda Zahui B’s 15 points off the bench marked the highest point total for the center through last season. Her production was two points shy of her career-high 17 points registered against Minnesota on June 29, 2016. She also contributed seven boards.
Last Sunday, Charles went 8-of-20 from the floor, 1-of-4 from distance and 2-of-3 at the line en route to her team-high 19 points. She also grabbed four rebounds and two steals.
The Liberty returned a bulk of its roster from a season ago headlined by Charles. The centerpiece is coming off of her eighth season in the league where she was named First Team All-WNBA and runner-up in the WNBA Most Valuable Player race.
Kia Nurse (2018 first-round pick, 10thoverall) is the lone rookie to make the initial opening night roster. Second-round pick, Mercedes Russell, re-joined New York in Kia Vaughn’s absence.
Minnesota credited a win over Dallas and lost to Los Angeles to start its season. New York beat Los Angeles but fell to Dallas in the preseason.
Zahui B and Nurse are two of 15 players in the league who are shooting .500 or better thus far.
Charles and Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles are tied this season with 19.0 ppg which is fifth-highest in the league. Fowles put up 38 points on .593 shooting in two contests including 28 in an eight-point win over Dallas. Fowles led the Lynx on the glass on both occasions grabbing 12 rebounds against Los Angeles and 20 versus Dallas.
After trailing by as many as 11 in the first-half, New York put Minnesota away, 70-61 on Sunday, August 20, 2017. The Liberty took the lead in the third quarter to a pair of free throw makes by Sugar Rodgers and never looked back.
Charles netted a team-high 19 points and Epiphanny Prince added 15. Maya Moore scored a game-high 22 points for the Lynx, who were missing starters Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson to injuries.
The win improved New York’s win streak to five.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Nurse recorded 17 points in her first professional outing to go along with three assists, two rebounds and two steals while committing just one turnover in 28:43 minutes as a reserve. Her point total was the most by a Canadian WNBA player in their debut since Stacey Dales scored 23 points for Washington in 2002. Nurse also tied Dales for most three-pointers in her first game.
“We’re concerned with improving on the things we can control. We were solid and would have loved to win but you have to credit Chicago which played and shot well. Minnesota is a veteran group who can execute well on the offensive end. We’ll have to battle Sylvia Fowles, be in Maya Moore’s space and disrupt them. On the offensive end, we need to take good shots, create for others, cut hard and do a lot of the little things. That’s really what separates good teams from great teams.”
To help tip-off the New York Liberty’s 2018 season, the Liberty will host their pre-game Fanfest presented by Chase, tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Westchester Country Center.
The event will feature an on-sight DJ, Pop-A-Shot, a photo booth, face painting, airbrush tattooing and more!
KEEPING THE CONTINUITY
22 total players participated in New York’s training camp which ranged from eight to nine-year veterans, 2018 draft picks, free agents and those monitoring lingering injuries. However, the Liberty secured 10 returners and added two additions by the league’s deadline for final rosters. Due to Vaughn’s international club play, Russell will proxy her absence.