NEW YORK LIBERTY (2-1) @ SEATTLE STORM (2-1)
Friday, May 26 • Seattle, Wash. (Key Arena) • 10 PM (ET)
The Liberty will look to build some momentum heading into a long home stand when it heads to Seattle to face the Storm on Friday night at Key Arena. Both teams are 2-1 entering the early season matchup, with the Liberty coming off a victory at Phoenix on Tuesday night. Tina Charles and Epiphanny Prince both topped 20 points in the win over the Mercury, limiting Brittney Griner to 19 points. The task defensively on Friday will be slowing down Jewell Loyd, who leads the league in scoring at 26.0 ppg.
• The Liberty opened a two-game Western road trip with a 69-67 win at Phoenix on Tuesday night. New York led by as many as 15 in the 2nd half against the Mercury, but faced a 67-62 deficit with fewer than 3 minutes to play. New York closed on a 7-0 run, capped by Epiphanny Prince’s game-winning 15-footer with 4.5 seconds remaining. The win was the Liberty’s third-straight at Phoenix dating back to 2015.
• At Phoenix on Tuesday night, Epiphanny Prince made her 1st start since Sept. 29, 2015; Prince missed the 1st 26 games of the 2016 season recovering from a torn ACL suffered in November 2015. She made the most of her 1st start, pouring in a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting. It was the most points in a regular season game for Prince since Aug, 7, 2015.
• The Liberty announced Wednesday that point guard Brittany Boyd will miss the remainder of the 2017 WNBA season after undergoing a successful repair of her left Achilles’ tendon on Monday at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). The procedure was performed by team physician Dr. Jo Hannafin. Boyd is expected to make a full recovery in 9-12 months.
• New York’s 1st seven opponents of the season are all from the Western Conference; the Liberty’s 1st Eastern Conference foe is Atlanta on June 7.
Early in the season guard Jewell Loyd is the WNBA’s leader in scoring, averaging 26.0 ppg as she looks to break out as an elite offensive threat in her 3rd year in the league. The Liberty will look to Epiphanny Prince and Sugar Rodgers to counter that scoring punch. Both have already posted big scoring games, although not at the same time. Rodgers went for 20 points with 4 3-pointers against Minnesota, while Prince is coming off a 24-point performance in the victory at Phoenix on Tuesday night, when she connected four times from the outside.
Jewell Loyd led three Storm players with 20-plus points as Seattle picked up a 102-78 win at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 7 late last season. New York won the 2016 season series 2-1, and has won 8-of-10 against the Storm, including four-straight at Key Arena.
BRITTANY BOYD INJURY UPDATE
The Liberty announced Wednesday that point guard Brittany Boyd will miss the remainder of the 2017 WNBA season after undergoing a successful repair of her left Achilles’ tendon on Monday at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). The procedure was performed by team physician Dr. Jo Hannafin. Boyd is expected to make a full recovery in 9-12 months. Boyd suffered the injury in the 4th quarter against the Minnesota Lynx on May 18.
LIBERTY TO HOST MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT PRESENTED BY DELTA AIR LINES ON MAY 30
The New York Liberty will host its first-ever Military Appreciation Night presented by Delta Air Lines on Tuesday, May 30, when it welcomes the defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks to Madison Square Garden. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Liberty Water Bottle, courtesy of Delta. The game will feature a number of on court and in arena activations for members of the United States armed services, including an on court recognition ceremony, standing alongside players during the performance of the national anthem, and a halftime fan tunnel.
RETURN TO FORM
Epiphanny Prince looked like the player that established herself as one of the most consistent scoring threats in the league from 2010-15, which culminated with her being named 2nd Team All-WNBA in 2015, as she poured in 24 points and hit a game-winner with 4.5 seconds remaining in the Liberty’s win at Phoenix on May 23. Prince started for the 1st time since Game 3 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, and went 10-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range to pace the Liberty. It was her highest point total since scoring 30 against the Chicago Sky on Aug. 7, 2015, which was also the last time she nailed 4 3-pointers in a game.
SETTING THE TONE
Tina Charles scored 15 of her 22 points in the 1st half as she recorded her 1st double-double of the season, also hauling in 11 rebounds, in New York’s 69-67 win at Phoenix on May 23. Charles also nailed a 3-pointer in her big game, as she notched career double-double No. 130. She led the WNBA with 20 double-doubles last season.
THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE MACHINE
With 22 points and 11 rebounds against Phoenix on May 23, Charles recorded the 130th double-double of her career, second all-time in league history, and she has posted a double-double in 55.8 percent of her games played as a pro. Her career 10.1 rebounds per game are first all time, while her career scoring average of 17.8 ppg is 8th.
So far this season the Liberty has been able to get off to strong starts in the 1st half, but has been unable to carry that momentum into the 2nd half. New York is averaging 40.3 ppg in the 1st half, compared to just 30.7 ppg in the 2nd period, a gap of nearly 10 points. The Liberty is being outscored by an average of 8.0 ppg in the 2nd half, which resulted in opponents being able to cut into double-digit leads in both of New York’s victories.