SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – AUGUST 25, 2016 – The lengthy break for the 2016 Olympics has finally come to an end and the New York Liberty returns to action. At 18-8 overall, first in the Eastern Conference and third in the WNBA standings, the Liberty faces the San Antonio Stars on Friday, August 26, at the AT&T Center.
New York has just eight games remaining in the regular season, tied for the fewest in the WNBA, which somewhat muddles the playoff picture when it comes to potential seed scenarios.
The Liberty has already won the season series against the Stars, picking up wins on the road and at Madison Square Garden, although the outcome of both of those games was in question heading into the 4th quarter. At San Antonio on June 11, New York led by just one point with 10 minutes to play, before pulling away for a 90-75 win, setting a franchise record for the most points scored against the Stars in the process.
• The Liberty enters the home stretch of the 2016 regular season sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with an 18-8 overall record, which would be good enough for the No. 3 seed if the WNBA playoffs started today. New York is headed to the postseason for the second-straight year and the 14th time in franchise history.
• Tina Charles represented Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, helping the American squad capture its 6th-consecutive gold medal. For Charles, it was her 2nd gold, as she was also a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team in London in 2012. Charles became the first active player in Liberty history to represent the United States in the Olympics.
• After missing the first 26 games of the season due to a knee injury suffered in November 2015, Epiphanny Prince has been removed from temporary suspension and is active for the first time this season. Prince was a second-team All-WNBA selection in 2015, her first with the Liberty, when she averaged 15.0 ppg.
• New York is looking for the season sweep over the Stars for a second-straight year. The last trip to the AT&T Center resulted in a 90-75 win, the most points scored by the Liberty in the series’ history.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Tina Charles is widely considered to be one of the front runners for 2016 league Most Valuable Player, a reasonable assumption considering she leads the WNBA in scoring (21.4 ppg) and rebounding (9.6 rpg).
Charles has not had much of a break since the WNBA hiatus began, as she represented the United States at the Olympic Games, capturing her second Gold Medal in the process. She was on fire heading into the break, posting 25 points and 13 rebounds in New York’s final game against Indiana, posting her 14th double-double of the year. Charles is also closing in on 4,000 career points, needing just 53 to reach that status.
• Sugar Rodgers is eight 3-pointers shy of tying the Liberty single-season record of 78, set by Shameka Christon. Rodgers continues to lead the WNBA with 70 treys this season, and is shooting an impressive .435 from 3-point range.
• New York’s bench was already one of the best in the league, and with the addition of Epiphanny Prince to the lineup, the Liberty depth has been bolstered further. New York averages a league-best 30.4 ppg, and set a WNBA single-game record with 69 bench points in the win at Washington on July 20.