NEW YORK LIBERTY (2-3) vs. CONNECTICUT SUN (5-1)
Thursday, June 7 • White Plains, NY (Westchester County Center) • 7:00 PM (ET)
TV: League Pass, MSG+, NBCSB
After dropping a hard-fought battle to Phoenix at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, the New York Liberty look to bounce back at Westchester County Center against the league-leading Connecticut Sun. The Sun are coming off of a close loss as well, their first of the season.
Tina Charles leads the league in scoring with 23.8 ppg (as of 6/6).
Charles’ 8.8 rebounds per game are good for fourth in the league, and the forward has had three double-doubles in her five games.
Kia Nurse’s 16.2 ppg ranks 16th in the league and third among rookies
Nurse is shooting 96.3% from the charity stripe, the fourth best mark in the league (as of 6/6).
Bria Hartley is tied for fourth in the league with 4.8 assists per game (as of 6/6).
The Liberty lead the league in offensive rebounds per game (11.4), while the Sun top the league on the defensive glass (30.8 per game).
Tina Charles was selected by the Connecticut Sun with the first overall pick in the 2010 WNBA draft, and she spent the first four seasons of her career there, winning an MVP in 2012. She was traded to the Liberty before the 2014 season.
Sun rookie Lexie Brown was selected one pick ahead of Liberty rookie Kia Nurse in the 2018 draft.
The battle on the glass will be crucial in determining which team comes out on top, and the game will feature two of the league’s best board-crashers in Alyssa Thomas and Tina Charles. The two sit third and fourth in the WNBA in rebounding per game, respectively. Thomas hauls 9.2 defensive rebounds per game, the highest mark in the league, while Charles averages a fifth-best 2.4 offensive rebounds.
On August 18, 2017, Tina Charles scored 24 points and added seven rebounds as the New York Liberty beat the Connecticut Sun, 82-70.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Liberty, and it snapped an eight-game home win streak for the Connecticut.
Bria Hartley and Sugar Rodger added three triples apiece, joining Charles in double figures along with Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe. Jasmine Thomas led the Sun with 15 points.
Tina Charles made a tough driving layup in the first quarter against Phoenix on Tuesday, securing the 4876th point of her prolific career. In doing so, she surpassed Hall-of-Famer and three-time MVP Sheryl Swoopes to move up to 19th on the WNBA all-time scoring list. Charles is now just 109 points away from 5,000, and 122 away from moving into 18th place. Her 2697 career rebounds rank 7th all-time.
ROOKIE RECORD BREAKER
Kia Nurse’s 34 points against Indiana on Saturday were the most by a New York rookie and the most by a reserve in franchise history. Her previous career-high was 17 points, scored in her WNBA debut against Chicago (5/20)
HITTING THE GLASS
Through the first five games of the season, Liberty players are grabbing 11.4 offensive rebounds per game, the highest mark in the league. In Tuesday’s lost against Phoenix, New York gave itself 19 second chances, a season-high. It did its part on the defensive end as well, giving Phoenix a season-low three second looks.
Tuesday’s game against Phoenix marked the return of a pair of Liberty guards who missed time due to injury. Sugar Rodger re-entered the lineup after a three-game absence, while Brittany Boyd made her season debut after sitting out most of last year rehabbing from a torn Achilles’ tendon. The Liberty have yet to be at full strength in 2018; two-time All-Star Epiphanny Prince has missed the team’s first five games due to a concussion.
IMPROVING FROM DEEP
Against Phoenix, New York guard Bria Hartley hit four of her eight attempts from deep, the most triples a Liberty player has made in a game this season. Liberty players have largely struggles from behind the arc this season, shooting just 29.7 percent, but their nine makes on Tuesday tied their season-high.
COACH’S CORNER on close games
“I hope it shows us that all of the little stuff that happens throughout the ball game really does matter: a couple less turnovers, a couple more shots, rebounds, or just a couple better defensive assignments. They all are that important for the outcome.”