NEW YORK, N.Y. – SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 – Behind a career-high 23 points from Sugar Rodgers and a stout defensive effort, the WNBA league leading New York Liberty came back to beat the Atlanta Dream, 80-75, in overtime on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Liberty overcame a double-digit deficit for the first time this season, surviving an 18-4 Atlanta spurt to start the third quarter, which left New York down 55-45.
After the Liberty pulled within two heading into the fourth, neither team led by more than one basket over the final 10 minutes of regulation. The Atlanta Dream’s lead hit 67-64 as Sancho Lyttle drove to the paint with 3:17 to play. Two possessions later, Epiphanny Prince connected on a trey from the corner to knot the score.
Neither team was able to get a basket to drop over the final 2:46, but it was New York that had the last shot. After forcing Shoni Schimmel to misfire with 9.9 remaining, Prince came away with the rebound and was able to get an open look from 18 feet before the buzzer, but she drew back iron.
Once the overtime period started, New York wasted no time taking control. Tina Charles scored on the first possession, two of her 17 points, on a close-range hook shot, and a few possessions later, it was Charles dishing it over to Kiah Stokes for an open look under the basket to give the Liberty a four-point lead for the first time since the half.
Atlanta twice cut it to two, but it was Rodgers with the dagger, her career-best fifth 3-pointer came at 1:54, making it a five-point New York lead that the Liberty would protect down the stretch.
Rodgers had not scored in double figures since netting 10 in a .win at Phoenix on July 18, and matched her career-best tally of 23 points from a win over Los Angeles on June 28.
In all, New York had four players finish in double figures. Stokes, named the WNBA Rookie of the Month earlier in the day, showed why she should be a front-runner for Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year, filling the stat-sheet with an impressive performance of 10 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, and four steals.
Prince shot just 4-for-12, but still scored 11 points to make it double figures in scoring in 18-of-19 games played this season.
The Liberty was off to a bit of a sluggish start offensively, before an Essence Carson triple sparked a 7-0 run, capped by a Charles bank shot that gave New York a 13-10 lead. Angel McCoughtry scored the next five, connecting on a quick release trey of her own to turn the tide back in favor of Atlanta.
New York was hampered by six first-quarter turnovers, which led directly to eight points the other way, allowing the Dream to take a 21-18 through 10 minutes of action.
The Liberty offense started to click midway in the second quarter, when a 13-2 run over 3:14 allowed New York to take its largest lead of the night, 41-33. Seven of those points came at the line, where Prince capped things off with a pair of free throws at 1:14.
Once the second half got underway, it was Atlanta finding a way to the charity stripe. The Dream were able to get three and-1 buckets to drop over the first four minutes of the period, converting on 2-of-3 free throws to power than 14-2 run.
McCoughtry came off the bench to lead Atlanta with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting. The Liberty still won the bench scoring battle, finishing with 41 points from the second unit.
New York wraps up a two-game home stand on Thursday, Sept. 3, when it hosts the Chicago Sky. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on the MSG Network.
POST GAME NOTES
- New York improves to 21-8, one win shy of matching the franchise record set in 2010.
- Sugar Rodgers scored 23 points matching a career-high. First game in double figures for her since scoring 10 points at Phoenix on July 18.
- Second OT game of the year for New York; won at Washington 79-76 on July 9. The Liberty now 2-0 in OT.
- New York went 4-1 this year against Atlanta and swept all three at Madison Square Garden.
- The Liberty’s magic number to clinch the best record in the East is two with five games to play.
- Atlanta held scoreless over final 3:17 of regulation.
- New York improves to 11-3 at Madison Square Garden this season.
- Angel McCoughtry’s four swipes moved her past Lisa Leslie (492) into 14th place on the WNBA career steal list with her current total of 495.
- DeLisha Milton-Jones played in her WNBA career record 499th career game tonight vs. New York.
- Atlanta opened the third quarter on an 18-4 run to claim a 10-point advantage – its largest of the game.
- McCoughtry’s 25 points marked her 15th 20-plus point scoring effort this season in 30 games.
- Atlanta falls to 0-2 in overtime games this season.