UNCASVILLE, CT – May 8, 2018 – Kia Nurse’s game-high 19 points led a group of four Liberty players in double-figures en route to New York’s 81-75 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Sparks at the Mohegan Sun, Tuesday evening. Marissa Coleman added 14 points for a consecutive time, Reshanda Gray registered a double-double comprised of 11 points and 13 boards while Kelly Faris ended with 10 points.
“Kia [Nurse] is a skilled athlete,” first-year head coach Katie Smith began. “That experience against high-level competition that she came in with makes her well aware of what she can do and we as a staff know it too.”
Nurse was hot early tallying seven points on 60-percent shooting by the midway mark of the first-quarter and finished with nine points by the intermission. Lindsay Allen caught momentum early too, crediting five points within the first five minutes of play, including a triple at the top of the key to put the first points on the board for either team.
The Sparks managed to hang around despite the Liberty offense clicking on all cylinders early. Los Angeles trailed by double-figures inside the first-half but managed to see itself down just three by the break, 36-33.
The Liberty’s three-point cushion was mirrored again following the third quarter as both teams scored 22 points in the window.
However, a near seven-minute scoring drought leading up to the 6:54 mark of the fourth almost shifted the game’s momentum for good. A 10-2 Sparks’ run rewarded LA a five-point edge, 65-60, a lead they kept until the contest’s 3:29 mark.
“We were competitive.” Smith continued. “We found ways where we could execute and communicated when we needed to. We were concerned with the intangibles.”
Nurse’s take to the basket deadlocked scoring at 67 points apiece, before Cappie Pondexter’s jumper put the Sparks in front once more. Pondexter recorded a team-high 17 points on the evening.
Following a team timeout, Nurse split her tries at the charity stripe to see the Liberty down one before Gray went 2-of-2 at the line moments after to put New York in front for good.
“When it comes to our roster, it is a numbers game at this point.” Smith ended. “We’re going to have some tough decisions to make.”
Gray’s double-double followed up a just a one-rebound and four-foul effort in the Liberty’s preseason loss to Dallas. Faris’ 10 points tonight doubled her point total yesterday. Kolby Morgan averaged 5.5 points in the preseason while Leslie Robinson totaled three points, four rebounds and two assists across the two-game span.
The Liberty season officially tips off on Sunday, May 20, as New York faces the Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena at 7 p.m. (ET).