PREVIEW: Liberty Hope To Continue to Shine vs. Sun

Uncasville, Conn. – August 13, 2015 – The New York Liberty will hit the road to face the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday night at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on MSG Network.

WATCH: MSG Network
RADIO: None
NEW YORK GAME NOTES: CLICK HERE
ALL-TIME: Connecticut leads, 39-32
2015 SEASON: NY, 1-0
LAST MEETING: NY 64, CONN 57 (July 16, 2015)  

The Liberty is riding a three-game win streak going into the Friday night, after beating Seattle, and then cruising past Chicago twice, and boast a 15-6 record, first place in the Eastern Conference with 2.5 games of separation between them and second place Washington and Indiana. Connecticut sits 3.5 games back of New York at 12-10, currently occupying the fifth spot in the conference, right behind Chicago who is now 14-10. That is how close things are in this conference.

In Tuesday’s game against Chicago, New York won in blowout fashion, 84-63, getting 22 points from Epiphanny Prince against her former team. She had 30 in the previous game in Chicago, setting a WNBA record for most points for a player in their first game against a former team.

What is most impressive about this stretch for Prince is her efficiency. She shot 74-percent collectively in those two games, missing just three shots on Friday and four on Tuesday. It is also the variety of buckets she is making. From pull up jumpers to in rhythm threes with a hand in her face and crafty moves in the lane, Prince has been nearly unguardable because of the unpredictability when the ball in her hands.

The defense remains the Liberty’s bread and butter. While forcing Chicago, statistically the best offensive team in the league, to  63 points in consecutive games, New York now has the best defensive rating in the league, 92.4, since the 2007 Indiana Fever. They continue to lead the WNBA in opponent field goal percentage at 37.8 percent and opponent points per game at 70.3.

Kiah Stokes, who had her second-career double-double on Tuesday with 13 points and 11 rebounds, is averaging 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, good for second and first on the team respectively. She is coming off the bench behind center Carolyn Swords, who has been solid all season with 5.7 points and 3.7 per game. Since Swords was inserted into the starting lineup, New York has gone 8-1.

Connecticut is coming off a victory against Tulsa on Wednesday night, the team that New York will host on Saturday evening to conclude a back-to-back. In the 80-74 win, the Sun trailed nearly the entire game until the third quarter, but then took control of the contest behind a 25-point effort from Alex Bentley.

EPIPHANNY PRINCE EN FUEGO
Guard Epiphanny Prince turned in a pair of virtuoso performances over the past week, thriving against her former team the Chicago Sky to the tune of a pair of 20-plus point games and an incredible shooting percentage. She has scored in double figures in all 11 games this season, but recently has take her game to another level. After scoring 30 points in a win at Chicago on August 7, she followed up with 22 points and three steals in a lopsided Liberty win over the Sky on August 11. Over the past two games, Prince is averaging 26.0 points per game, shooting 74.1 percent (20-of-27) from the field, in addition to averaging 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game. She ranks second on the team averaging 15.4 ppg this season, which would rank eighth in the league.

LIBERTY MATCH 2014 WIN TOTAL
The New York Liberty needed just 21 games to match its win total from the entire 2014 season. At 15-6 overall, the Liberty leads three teams in the Eastern Conference standings by 2.5 games. New York has missed the WNBA playoffs in each of the last two seasons after going 11-23 in 2013 and 15-19 in 2014. For head coach Bill Laimbeer, the 15 regular season wins match the most he has had since his 2008 Detroit Shock team went 22-12 in the regular season en route to a WNBA Championship, his third over a span of six seasons. The next Liberty win will signify the most since the team went 19-15 in 2011.

LAST TIME OUT – NEW YORK 84, CHICAGO 63

  • Epiphanny Prince led New York in scoring for a second-straight game. She finished with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
  • Prince is averaging 26.0 ppg in two games against Chicago this season and has missed just seven shots, shooting a combined 20-of-27 (.741).
  • The 21-point margin of victory was the largest of the season for New York.
  • Prince has now scored in double figures in all 11 games she has played this season.
  • Kiah Stokes posted her second-career double-double finishing with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
  • New York improved to 8-2 at Madison Square Garden and has won five-straight on its home floor dating back to June 28.
  • The Liberty saw 38 points come from its bench compared to just 13 for the Sky.
  • New York held a 38-28 edge in the paint and outrebounded Chicago 35-31.
  • The Liberty made six 3-pointers and has seen it three best 3-point shooting games come against Chicago, averaging 7.0 3-pointers per game against the Sky.
  • New York forced 17 turnovers while committing just 14 and is now 8-0 when it wins the turnover battle this season.

LIBERTY WILL #BURNBRIGHT WITH KYMORA JOHNSON CHARLOTTESVILLE CAVALIERS ON SATURDAY NIGHT
Kymora Johnson and the under-11 Charlottesville Cavaliers were disqualified from a travel tournament two weeks ago for having a girl on the team, but that will not stop them from playing at Madison Square Garden. The Liberty will be bringing Kymora and her team to play at game on The Garden’s floor this Saturday night after New York battles the Tulsa Shock at the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” Fans will be invited to stay and watch the team play and Liberty players will be in attendance to cheer on the team and meet with Kymora and her teammates as they receive a “fantasy game” experience against a Junior Knicks team from Mt. Vernon, part of the Basketball in the Boroughs and Beyond program presented by Chase.

LAST TIME AGAINST CONNECTICUT

  • New York picked up a 64-57 win over the Connecticut Sun on July 16 at Madison Square Garden. Tina Charles led all scorers with 22 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
  • Kiah Stokes blocked a franchise single-game record eight shots, five in the 4th quarter, when New York held the Sun to seven points.
  • The Liberty limited Connecticut to just 30.0 percent shooting and outrebounded the Sun 34-25.
  • A close game in the first half, there were 10 ties and 13 lead changes overall, New York controlled the second half outscoring Connecticut 36-24 over the last 20 minutes.
  • Alex Bentley paced Connecticut with 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting.

LIBERTY RAMP UP THE DEFENSE
All season long New York has stood out as one of the top defensive teams in the league, but the Liberty has taken that strength to another level over the last three games. During its current three-game winning streak, New York has failed to yield more than 63 points to an opponent. Teams are averaging 62.7 ppg and shooting just 36.7 percent from the field over the past three games. From 3-point range the shooting percentage dips down to .333 and New York is also averaging 9.3 steals per game. For the season, New York leads the WNBA in points allowed (70.3) and defensive field goal percentage (.378).