By Justin “Say Say” Rivers
Fresh off a hard-fought victory in Los Angeles against the Sparks and a five-game road slate, Betnijah Laney, Sabrina Ionescu, and the New York Liberty (7-6, 2nd in Eastern) return home to take on Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, and the Chicago Sky (7-7, 3rd in Eastern).
On Sunday, the Liberty bounced back with a hard-fought, back-and-forth win against the Los Angeles Sparks. Thanks to clutch defensive plays down the stretch by Rebecca Allen, who finished with a season-high and team-high 19 points, New York prevailed again nearly 24 years to the day that the Liberty tipped off against the Sparks in the first-ever WNBA game. In the final minute of the contest, Allen blocked two shots, including a potential go-ahead three-pointer by Kristi Toliver with 8.2 seconds remaining. After a loose ball foul by Toliver, Allen also proceeded to sink a pair of free throws that gave New York a three-point advantage.
Additionally, Sami Whitcomb continued her solid play as she finished with a near double-double of 17 points and 9 rebounds. She also drained half of her shots from deep. Should-be All Star Betnijah Laney had an all-around performance that saw her dish out five dimes, pull down five boards, and chip in 14 points. Moreover, Kylee Shook’s 11-point outing gave the team four double-digit scorers in the starting five.
Their 76-73 victory over Los Angeles that snapped a two-game skid was the kind of confidence and momentum-building victory that will have New York prime to defend home court during their two-game home stand.
CAREER MILESTONE ALERT!!!
A six-season WNBA veteran, Betnijah Laney came into her own as a star in this league last season. As a scorer, she began to heat up in the second half of Sunday’s contest en route to her finishing not only with 14 points, but also eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for her career. The six-foot guard/forward reached this huge milestone with around eight minutes remaining in the third quarter when she scored on a move inside that extended the Liberty lead to a thirteen-point advantage, 49-36. Laney, who began her career with the Sky in 2015 and spent two seasons in Chi-Town, will look to continue piling on the points to her career total against her former team on Tuesday.
The Liberty have already faced the Sky this season, making Tuesday’s meeting a rematch of their May 23rd matchup in Chicago. Although the squad had to overcome a slew of turnovers, the roster was shooting like they were long-range bombers from behind the arc as the Liberty tied the franchise mark for made three-pointers with their 14 made threes. Between Betnijah Laney’s 20-point performance that was complemented by six boards and five dimes and Sabrina Ionescu’s 19-point-12-assist double-double, New York’s star-studded duo was on full display. A historical amount of Liberty players contributed in major ways that afternoon, as the Liberty finished with six players, including the team’s starting five, in double figures which marked just the 9th time in franchise history.
FIRST ANNUAL JUNETEENTH NIGHT
Tuesday night’s game will be the Liberty’s first-ever Juneteenth Night game. See the following press release for more details pertaining to the team’s honoring of the now national holiday: New York Liberty to Celebrate Team’s First-Ever Juneteenth Game on June 22.