NEW YORK LIBERTY (16-12) vs. MINNESOTA LYNX (22-5)
Sunday, Aug. 20 • New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden) • 3:00 PM (ET)
TV: MSG/NBA TV
The Liberty will conclude its run of 3-straight games against the top three teams in the WNBA standings when it hosts the league-leading Minnesota Lynx on Sunday afternoon at 3 PM. The Lynx have won both meetings against the Liberty this season, most recently a 76-75 victory in Minnesota immediately following the All-Star Break. The Lynx are just 2-3 in their last 5 games, but are coming off a 111-52 win over Indiana on Friday night that shattered the WNBA margin of victory record.
• The New York Liberty ran its winning streak to 4 in a row and snapped the Connecticut Sun’s unbeaten run of 6 straight in the process, picking up an 82-70 win at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday night. Tina Charles led the way for the Liberty, finishing with 24 points and 7 rebounds, scoring 18 of her points in the 2nd quarter after being held scoreless in the opening period. The Liberty bench contributed 33 points to the winning effort with Sugar Rodgers (13) and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (12) both scoring in double figures.
• With Friday night’s win, the Liberty improved to 16-12 overall, moving 4 games above .500 for the 1st time this season. The Liberty have gone 8-3 since falling to 8-9 on July 14.
• Rookie Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe scored a career-high 12 points in the win at Connecticut on Friday night. It was her 3rd career game scoring in double figures, with two of those efforts coming against the Sun on the road.
• The Liberty has overcome double-digit 1st half deficits in each of its last two wins, doing so by putting up 28 points in the 2nd quarter on both occasions.
• Bria Hartley matched a season-high of 3 3-pointers to finish with 11 points in the win over the Sun.
Just as the Liberty saw against the Sun, a talented center will pose a lot of problems in MVP candidate Sylvia Fowles. Fowles is 2nd in the league in both scoring (20.4 ppg) and rebounding (10.1 ppg) and it will be up to the Liberty front court to slow her down. This will fall mostly to Kiah Stokes and Kia Vaughn, as Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles are not often defending one another. The Liberty did a strong job against Jonquel Jones on Friday night, limiting her to 11 points and 9 rebounds, below her season averages.
New York nearly came back from 10 down, but saw its comeback fall just short as an open Sugar Rodgers 3-pointer from the top of the key with just seconds remaining on the clock hit back iron, as the Lynx picked up a 76-65 win back on July 25. Tina Charles had 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Liberty, while Epiphanny Prince scored 19. Maya Moore led the way for Minnesota scoring a season-high 27 points, going 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
LIBERTY PARTNERS WITH RISE TO HOST 1ST-EVER UNITY GAME
The Liberty will partner with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to host a Unity Game at The Garden on Sunday, Aug. 20, when hosts to the Minnesota Lynx. Prior to tipoff, the Liberty and RISE will host a panel discussion from 1-2:30 PM in the Madison Square Garden Theater lobby, featuring a diverse group of athletes, law enforcement officials, and community activists, with a goal of developing a solution-oriented agenda focusing on creating positive change in the community. In the moments leading up to the game, the New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx players will lock arms in a show of solidarity on court during the performance of the national anthem. Additional information about the Unity Game can be found at nyliberty.com.
CHANGES PAYING DIVIDENDS
Prior to it game against the Washington Mystics on July 16, the Liberty made a change to the starting lineup, inserting Bria Hartley at point guard, while allowing Epiphanny Prince to play shooting guard, while Sugar Rodgers would provide fire power off the bench. Since then, New York has gone 8-3, and seen improvement across the board in nearly every offensive category, in some places drastically, particularly with a scoring average jump of nearly 5 points per game.
Rookie Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe showed off her explosiveness in the win at Connecticut on 8/18, getting to the rim and drawing contact to finish with a career-high 12 points. It was her 3rd game of the season in double figures, and 1st since scoring 10 points at Connecticut back on June 14. She was 3-of-5 from the field, but was able to get to the free throw line 10 times, where she shot 6-of-10. Raincock-Ekunwe sports the 3rd-best net plus/minus in the entire league at +13.4 and her raw plus/minus of +62 leads the Liberty. New York averages 8.0 more points per 40 minutes when Raincock-Ekunwe on the floor (85.9) than when she is off (77.9).
2ND QUARTER RALLY(S)
For the 2nd-straight game, the Liberty overcame a slow offensive start with a huge 2nd quarter rally, scoring 28 points in the 2nd period once again and turning a small deficit into a double-digit lead. At Connecticut on Friday night, the Liberty went on a 31-9 run, that began near the end of the 1st period when they were down 20-10, and concluded with the team taking a 41-29 lead that was never relinquished. It was the 2nd-straight game New York came back from an early double-digit deficit to secure a win.
LIBERTY FACTS & FIGURES – KEY NUMBERS
The number of points that Tina Charles needs to move past Chamique Holdsclaw (4,716) for 20th place in WNBA history in scoring. Charles currently ranks 21st with 4,664 points.
New York limited Los Angeles to just 8 2nd quarter points when the teams met on 8/13 at The Garden. It was the lowest point total for a Liberty opponent in a quarter this season, and the lowest scoring output for the Sparks during any quarter in 2017.
Rookie Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe scored a career-high 12 points in the win over Connecticut on Friday. Two of her three games in double figures have come at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Liberty is leading the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage at .412. New York has led the league in defensive shooting percentage in back-to-back seasons.
After being held scoreless in the 1st quarter against the Sun, Tina Charles scored 18 of her game-high 24 points in the 2nd quarter, falling 4 shy of the WNBA record for points in a quarter (22).
With the win over the Sun on Friday night the Liberty moved to 4 games above .500 for the 1st time this season and also won its 4th game in a row, matching a season-long winning streak that went from June 2-11.