On Thursday night, the No. 8 New York Liberty fell to the No. 5 Phoenix Mercury, 83-82, in their first postseason appearance since 2017. Betnijah Laney made a three pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 82 with 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Brianna Turner connected on 1 of 2 free throws to give Phoenix a one-point advantage with 0.4 seconds remaining to ultimately win the game.
In the Valley, the Liberty led by as many as seven points and finished on 46.4% (32-69) shooting from the field, 42.9% (12-28) from three, and 85.7% (6-7) at the free throw line.
Tonight, New York connected on 12 three-pointers, one short of tying the all-time franchise postseason single-game three-point field goals made record (13).
New York recorded 31 rebounds, 20 team assists, and 34 points in the paint. The visiting Liberty outscored the Mercury 34-30 in the paint and 15-11 on second chance points.
Q1: Phoenix jumped out to a 16-5 run in the first 5 minutes of the opening frame. The home team led by as many as 11 points.
Out of a timeout midway through the first, New York went on an 11-2 run to cut the Mercury lead to only two points with 1:13 remaining in the quarter. The Liberty extended the run to 15-4 to close the quarter down one point (24-23).
Q2: New York opened the second quarter with a 9-2 run in the first three minutes to take the lead, 32-26.
Despite a 7-0 Mercury run midway through the second quarter, the Liberty answered with a 9-4 run to go into the locker room up 41-37.
Q3: Phoenix went on a 10-1 run to get within one point of the Liberty with 4:40 remaining in the third. The Mercury outscored the Liberty 23-17 to enter the final frame up 60-58.
Q4: With 5:10 remaining in the contest, the Liberty and Mercury were even at 71. The Mercury went on an 8-0 run to take an 82-79 lead with 50.6 seconds remaining. The run began with a made three point shot by Diggins-Smith with 1:40 remaining in the game.
Betnijah Laney made a three pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 82 with 2.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Brianna Turner connected on 1 of 2 free throws to give Phoenix a one-point advantage with 0.4 seconds remaining to win the game.
Four Liberty players scored in double figures in tonight’s game (Allen, Howard, Ionescu, Laney).
Betnijah Laney posted a game-high 25 points, four rebounds and three assists. Laney finished on 45.5% (10-22) from the floor and 42.9% (3-7) beyond the arc.
Natasha Howard finished the contest with a 16-point, team-high 10-rebound double-double on 43.8% (7-16) shooting from the field. Howard also had two assists, one block and one steal.
Sabrina Ionescu had an all-around performance in her WNBA Playoff debut finishing with 14 points, a game-high 11 assists, and five rebounds. Ionescu shot 41.7% (5-12) from the field and 100% (3-3) at the free throw line.
Rebecca Allen finished with 11 points on 60.0% (3-5) shooting beyond the arc, along with four rebounds and three blocks.
Reshanda Gray scored eight fourth quarter points on a perfect 3-3 shooting, a career-high in her third WNBA Playoffs appearance.
Skylar Diggins-Smith scored a team-high 22 points on 44.4% (8-18) shooting from the field, and 40.0% (4-10) from deep. Diggins-Smith added five assists and four rebounds.
Brittney Griner totaled 16 points on 75.0% (6-8) shooting from the field and a team-high 10 rebounds.