NEW YORK, N.Y. – AUGUST 28, 2015 – Playoffs! For the first time since the 2012 season the New York Liberty is headed to the postseason, and it secured the berth with a statement win, an 81-68 victory over the Western conference leading Minnesota Lynx on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Liberty clinched the 13th playoff berth in franchise history and once New York hosts a postseason game it will be the first WNBA playoff game at Madison Square Garden since 2010.
Playoff tickets will officially go on sale next week, with full details to be released on Monday, August 31.
New York built on its best start in franchise history, improving to 19-8 overall while solidifying its grasp on the best record in the WNBA. The Liberty is tied with Minnesota (19-10) in the win column, but has two fewer losses with seven games to play. Additionally, New York matched the most wins since the 2011 season when it finished 19-15.
Tina Charles notched her 10th double-double of the season with 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds, while Epiphanny Prince scored a team-high 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
The Liberty, which boasts the best defense in the WNBA, limited the Lynx to just 37.3 percent from the field. Maya Moore led all scorers with 25 points.
New York was up by as many as 11 points in the first half and took a 43-38 lead into the locker room. The Liberty jumped all over Minnesota in the early moments, taking a 16-8 lead just over five minutes into the action at Charles drove to the rim for an easy two.
That lead reached double digits thanks to a smooth jumper from Prince, making it 20-10. Brittany Boyd was fouled driving to the rim with 0.5 left in the opening period, a play that was reviewed resulting in two free throws, which she hit to push the New York advantage to 27-16.
The Lynx rallied, pulling within 35-33 on a pair of Sylvia Fowles free throws at 3:12 in the second, but the Liberty never relinquished its lead. Swin Cash answered with tough two on the other end, sparking a 6-2 run that ended with a Carolyn Swords baseline jumper.
Once the third quarter was underway, Charles set the tone early. On the very first possession, she converted a long jumper from near the top of the key to beat the shot clock, and the Liberty was off an running.
Prince grabbed a Charles miss at 4:54 to make it a 10-point cushion once again, 54-44, and a minute later completed a four-point play, hauling in a Tanisha Wright pass in the corner and calmly knocking down a trey as she was fouled by Asjha Jones, making the free throw to give her a fourth 20-plus point game of the season.
Once the fourth quarter was underway, Minnesota never really gathered any momentum. The Lynx cut the New York lead to 76-68 with 90 seconds to play, but a strong drive to the basket from Cash followed by a Sugar Rodgers trey ensured the final outcome would not be in doubt over the final moments.
Tanisha Wright notched her third-straight game with six assists, also scoring seven points with three rebounds and a pair of steals. New York controlled the glass 41-31 and outscored Minnesota 40-28 in the paint.
New York returns to action on Saturday night, when it heads to Uncasville, Conn., to face the Connecticut Sun. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on MSG Network.
New York Liberty Postgame Notes
- New York secured a berth into the WNBA Playoffs 2015 presented by Boost Mobile. It is the first playoff berth for the Liberty since the 2012 season.
- New York has qualified for the playoffs for the 13th time in franchise history.\
- The Liberty improved to 19-8 overall, the best record through 27 games in franchise history and the most wins for the team since the 2011 season when it finished 19-15.
- New York leads the Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever by 2.5 games for first place in the Eastern conference.
- New York has the best winning percentage (.704) in the WNBA
- Tina Charles finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double since August 7, but her 10th of the season and 107th of her career, which is second all-time
- Epiphanny Prince finished with 22 points to scored 20-plus points for the fourth time this season.
- The Liberty improved to 10-3 at Madison Square Garden this season.
- Tanisha Wright finished with six assists for a third-straight game.