By Arden Franklyn
At the conclusion of a 12 day road trip which featured four games, the New York Liberty will have their share of things to study closely. The Liberty’s journey away from Madison Square Garden concluded on Sunday with a 81-69 loss against the Phoenix Mercury, who saw a big performance from Brittney Griner with her 31 Points, 12 Rebounds and six blocks. Below are the takeaways from Sunday’s performance.
1. Griner becoming a more difficult match-up
Listed at 6-foot-9, Brittney Griner is already one of the toughest players to defend in the WNBA. But beside her size, there is a growing skill-set that truly describes why she’s such a tough cover. Following Sunday’s game, Griner is now averaging 25 PPG and 9 RPG against the Liberty while shooting 56% from the field and 92% on free throws. Both sides have faced each other, three times this season. For Griner, who has been a force in the league since entering in 2013, you could argue she is having a breakout season offensively, leading the league with 22.4 ppg approaching the All-Star break.
2. Liberty focused on hitting open shots
Since the Liberty’s road victory over the Dallas Wings on June 16th, where they shot 48% from the field and 43% from long range, the team’s field goal percentages have dipped in both areas. Only once since then, have the Liberty shot 40% from the field and New York has not regularly exceeded 30% from 3-point range. As Bill Laimbeer said after Sunday’s loss, many times looks are there, but the team just has to hit those open shots. Fatigue surely played a factor after 12 days on the road, New York will look to rebound offensively during its upcoming homestand.
3. Charles’ strong scoring continues
Despite the team’s struggles, Tina Charles has been on a strong roll recently. In the last six games, she has reached the 20 point mark five times and that includes consecutive games where she scored 29 points. In the month of July, Charles is averaging 26 PPG and shooting 48.3% from the field. Typically when Charles has her offensive game going like that a win follows, but her huge performance was not quite enough to lift the Liberty past the Mercury on its own.