By Arden Franklyn
The end of a road trip can present different opportunities for teams, based on where they are in the season. On Friday night, the New York Liberty ended another long journey from home, by facing the defending WNBA champions Los Angeles Sparks. Despite the back-and-forth nature of the game, featuring various runs from both teams, the Liberty fell short against the Sparks in a 87-74 loss. Below are three takeaways from the game.
1. Duo of Parker and Ogwumike is just a lot to deal with
Realistically speaking, any duo that contains of multiple MVP winners, gold medalists and champions should be very tough to play against. The idea of “stopping” them is difficult, the goal is to limit their impact on the game and counter. The Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike have given the Liberty’s defense, a couple of problems this season. In their two matchups against the team, both teammates have combined for an average of 41 points and 14 rebounds per game, while shooting 55 percent from the field. The Liberty were certainly impacted last night by Tina Charles picking up two fouls within the first 48 seconds of the game, pulling the Liberty’s best counter punch and interior defenders off the court for an extended period of time, which helped the Sparks get off to a fast start, and hampered Charles’ ability to get into the flow of the game after sitting for the 1st quarter.
2. A quiet but solid showing from Raincock-Eknuwe
Nayo Raincock-Eknuwe has certainly worked her way for playing time on the Liberty, and she got the call early on against the Sparks due to the foul trouble for Charles. What is consistent for Raincock-Ekunwe is her impact when playing extended minutes. In thirteen minutes of action against the Sparks, she produced nine points and six rebounds, which is not a surprise to anyone following the Liberty this season. Since the beginning of June, Raincock-Eknuwe has played at least ten minutes a game, eight times. She scored double digit points twice and on two other occasions, was two points short from doing so along with increasing her rebounding totals.
3. Bria leads the team in scoring for consecutive games
Bria Hartley has really been making a positive impact on the team on both ends of the floor, but particularly when it comes to pushing pace on the offensive end, the Liberty averaged 18.5 ppg in the fast break over the last two contests. The former University of Connecticut product has led the team in scoring, for the past two games after her 16 point performance on Friday. Hartley is averaging over 16 points per game to begin the month of August.