WNBA’s Top Teams Battle Sunday in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – SEPTEMBER 5, 2015 – There will be a lot on the line with the top two teams from their respective conferences clash at the Target Center on Sunday afternoon, as the East-leading New York Liberty travels to Minneapolis, Minn., to face the first-place Minnesota Lynx at 7 p.m. (ET). The game will be broadcast on MSG Network.

WATCH: MSG Network
RADIO: None
NEW YORK GAME NOTES: CLICK HERE
ALL-TIME: New York leads, 16-14
2015 SEASON: New York, 1-0
LAST MEETING: NYL 81, MINN 68 (August 28, 2015)

This will be the second meeting in nine days between the two teams that have created some separation between themselves and the rest of their conferences. When they played last Friday night at Madison Square Garden, the Liberty impressed in a commanding 81-68 victory, in which it limited the Lynx to just 37.3 percent shooting.

However, since then, Minnesota has won twice, beating two playoff-bound foes in Phoenix and Indiana, turning in a dominant 81-65 win over the Fever on Friday. In that victory, the Lynx shot 53.8 percent and had all five starters score in double figures, displaying the balance that makes them a title contender.

New York jumped out to a 27-16 lead after the first quarter in the first matchup, and although Minnesota trimmed the lead to just five by the break, the Liberty pulled away in the second half. The Lynx had no answer for New York on the interior, yielding 40 points in the paint while the Liberty held a 41-31 advantage on the glass.

Minnesota shot just 2-of-10 from 3-point range, but is usually a much more lethal team from long-distance, nailing 8-of-18 attempts from three in its win over the Fever. New York will likely need to get more production from 3-point range than it did in the loss to Chicago on Friday, where it failed to hit a 3-point shot for just the second time this year.

The Liberty will be without rookie point guard Brittany Boyd, as she suffered a wrist fracture in the third quarter against Chicago. She scored just two points in eight minutes the last time New York faced Minnesota.

MAGIC NUMBER TO CLINCH THE EAST DOWN TO ONE
The New York Liberty boasts the best record in the WNBA at 21-9 and needs just one win over its final four games to secure the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Liberty has entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the East three times, most recently in 2002 when it advanced to WNBA Finals before falling 2-0 to Los Angeles. Additionally, New York sits just one game shy of the franchise single-season wins record, set back in 2010, when it finished 22-12 overall and placed second in the East, advancing to the conference finals. The Liberty has already clinched a playoff berth, its first since 2012, and is off to a 21-9 start for the first time in franchise history. Three more wins over the final four games would secure home court throughout the playoffs.

EPIPHANNY PRINCE NAMED EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE MONTH FOR AUGUST
Epiphanny Prince was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the first time in her career on Sept. 3. For the Liberty, it has repeat Player of the Month winners after Tina Charles received the honor for the month of July. The two-time All-Star helped guide the Liberty to a league-best 8-2 record for the month. She paced all Eastern Conference players in steals (2.6 spg) in August, tied for second in assists (4.2 apg), and ranked fifth in scoring (17.8 ppg).  She also finished fourth in field goal percentage (.527, 68-of-129) and free throw shooting (.939, 31-of-33). Prince scored 15 points or more in seven of 10 games for the month, including three consecutive outings with at least 22 points.  She tallied a season-high 30 points and added five assists in a 77-63 victory at the Chicago Sky on Aug. 7,

LAST TIME OUT – CHICAGO 82, NEW YORK 60

  • New York won the season series with Chicago 3-1.
  • The Liberty was held without a 3-point field goal for the second time this season (the other was at Los Angeles on July 22).
  • New York had not trailed by more than three points in any of the prior three meetings with Chicago this year.
  • The all-time series against the Sky is now tied 20-20.
  • New York had outrebounded Chicago 139-117 in three meetings this year heading into Thursday night, but the Sky won the battle of the boards 38-36.
  • Epiphanny Prince has now scored in double figures in 19-of-20 games played this season.

BRITTANY BOYD UNDERGOES WRIST SURGERY
New York Liberty rookie guard Brittany Boyd successfully underwent surgery on her left wrist. The procedure, which was performed by Dr. Richard Hotchkiss at Hospital for Special Surgery, repaired a fracture which she suffered during the third quarter of the Liberty’s game against the Chicago Sky on September 3. Expected recovery time is 5-6 weeks.

MAKING A CASE FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kiah Stokes is having one of the most impressive rookie seasons in the WNBA and is making a solid case for being considered the league’s Rookie of the Year. In terms of total all-around impact and overall team success, it is tough to argue any first year player is more critical to team success than Stokes, who leads all rookies in blocks and rebounds per game and field goal percentage. With Stokes helping anchor the interior, the Liberty lead the league in points against and defensive field goal percentage, and is the toughest team to score against in the paint.

KIAH STOKES NAMED WNBA ROOKIE OF THE MONTH
Kiah Stokes of the New York Liberty was named the WNBA Rookie of the Month presented by Samsung for games played in August. Stokes led all rookies in rebounds (8.3 rpg), field goal percentage (.564, 31-for-55), and blocks (1.5 bpg) for the month.  She also placed second in minutes per game (27.8 mpg), third in free throw percentage (.833, 10-for-12), and fifth in points (7.2 ppg).  Stokes ranked fourth among all WNBA players in rebounds and field goal percentage while tying for fifth in blocks. She collected 10 or more rebounds in five of her 10 games played in August.