NEW YORK LIBERTY (6-4) at DALLAS WINGS (4-7)
Friday, June 16 • Arlington, Texas (College Park Center) • 8:00 PM (ET)
New York will wrap up a quick two-game road trip against the Dallas Wings on Friday night at College Park center, looking to bounce back from a 96-76 loss at Connecticut on Wednesday night. The Liberty are 1-2 on the road this season and will be making just their 2nd ever trip to Dallas, having played the Wings on the road just once last season. After getting off to a 2-3 start, the Liberty has won 4-of-5 while Dallas is 1-4 in its last five games, but that win was over the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks in Arlington.
• The Liberty had a 4-game winning streak snapped with a 96-76 loss at Connecticut on Wednesday night. Tina Charles led 4 Liberty players in double figures, finishing with 17 points, while moving up to 24th place in WNBA history in scoring. Shavonte Zellous (16), Sugar Rodgers (12) and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (10) also scored in double figures for the Liberty.
• Rookie Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe scored in double figures for a 2nd-straight game, matching her career high of 10 points against the Sun. She now ranks 6th amongst rookies in scoring at 4.8 ppg, 4th in rebounding at 2.6 rpg, and 1st with a .577 field goal percentage.
• Tina Charles repeated as Eastern Conference Player of the Week on June 12, making it the 23rd time in her career she earned the accolade, breaking a tie with Tamika Catchings for the most Player of the Week honors for a career. In leading the Liberty to wins over Atlanta and Seattle, Charles averaged 19.5 ppg and 14.5 rpg.
• After closing out a 5-game home stand with a 4-1 mark, and wining 4 in a row, the Liberty will play 6-of-7 on the road starting with Wednesday night’s loss at Connecticut, and 11-of-15 on the road between now and August 4.
Shavonte Zellous has been red hot for the Liberty and she will be called on once again to step up against a talented Dallas back court that includes Skylar Diggins-Smith and Karima Christmas-Kelly. In the last meeting Zellous scored 27 points, while Christmas-Kelly was limited to 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting, although she did pull down 9 rebounds.
This will be the 2nd meeting of the season between the Liberty and Wings, with New York picking up a 93-89 win at Madison Square Garden on June 2. Forward Tina Charles scored a career-high 36 points in that win, leading 4 Liberty players in double figures. Shavonte Zellous put up 27 points, her first 20-point game with the Liberty, while Kiah Stokes posted a 13 point, 15 rebound double-double, setting a new personal best for rebounding. Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 19 points to pace Dallas. New York dominated the paint, scoring 52 points on the inside.
Rookie forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe continues to make more and more of an impact as she settles into her 1st WNBA season. The 25-year old Canadian National Team player who starred at Simon Fraser University and has been playing internationally since 20213, has now scored in double figures in back-to-back games, setting a career high of 10 points in a win over Seattle on June 11, and matching that on Wednesday night at Connecticut. She ranks 4th on the Liberty with a net plus/minus of +12.3. Over the past four games she is averaging 8.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
ZELLOUS STEPPING UP HER GAME
With guard Epiphanny Prince and center Kia Vaughn missing most of the month of June in order to compete in the EuroBasket Women Tournament, the entire team was called on to step up and replace their production, and guard Shavonte Zellous has certainly stepped up in a big way. Over the past five games Zellous is 2nd on the team averaging 18.4 ppg. She posted back-to-back 20-point games for the 1st time in her career, netting 27 against Dallas on June 2, her highest point tally since pouring in a career-best 33 on June 25, 2014, and following that up with 21 points in the victory over Phoenix on June 4.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
One of New York’s strengths in recent seasons has been dominating the paint, which often has meant the difference in wins and losses, and that remains to be true again in 2017. Through the 1st five games of 2017, the Liberty were averaging just 27.7 ppg in the paint as a team. That changed with 52 points on the interior against Dallas, as over the ensuing 4 games, the Liberty averaged 41.0 points in the paint. New York has posted a 4-1 record when outscoring its opponent on the inside in 2017, and is 0-3 when it is outscored in the paint.