NEW YORK, N.Y. – JULY 11, 2015 – The New York Liberty’s road swing continues as the team heads down to Atlanta, Ga., to face the Dream in Philips Arena on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The game will be available in the New York market on the MSG Network.
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ALL-TIME: New York leads 20-10
2015 SEASON: NY 2-0
LAST MEETING: NYL 73, ATL 64 (June 21, 2015)
For the Liberty, which has won three games in a row for the first time this year and finds itself just a half game out of first place, the task will be to pick up a third-straight victory over an Atlanta team that sits at 5-7 overall, and is desperate to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Beating a team three times in a row is not easy, especially when it comes to the familiarity of conference foes, but that will be the goal on Sunday.
In the first two meetings, Atlanta’s perennial All-Star Angel McCoughtry has found her points, averaging 22.0 ppg in the two meetings, but overall New York has been stout defensively, limiting Atlanta to just 32.8 percent shooting from the field, which included just 29.7 percent when the teams met in Atlanta back on June 21.
New York’s bench has proven to be an asset all season, and that been a huge advantage in the pair of wins over Atlanta, where the Liberty have a 78-23 advantage in bench scoring.
Rookie Brittany Boyd has been a big part of that, coming off the bench to score a career-high 18 in last month’s road win, and she is averaging 16.0 ppg in two meetings against Atlanta.
However, as usual the focal point on the offensive end for New York will be Tina Charles, who has been on a tear over the last three games.
She posted 21 points and 10 boards in the overtime win at Washington on Thursday, tying for the 10th-fastest player in WNBA history to reach the 3,000-point milestone. So far against Atlanta, she is averaging a double-double of 15.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
PRINCE RETURNS TO HER KINGDOM
After a long wait, New York guard Epiphanny Prince finally made her New York debut when the Liberty picked up a 79-76 road win at Washington on July 9. Prince, who was acquired in a blockbuster offseason trade in exchange for guard Cappie Pondexter, missed the first 10 games of the season to compete in the Eurobasket 2015 Tournament. She came off the bench to make an immediate impact, scoring six points in the first quarter en rout to a 12-point day in which she shot 5-of-12 from the field and also dished out a pair of assists in 31 minutes. Prince’s offensive ability was missed early in the year, as she entered the season with a career scoring average of 14.1 ppg, but New York went 6-4 in the month of June, ending that stretch just a game out of first in the Eastern Conference.
LAST TIME OUT – NEW YORK 79, WASHINGTON 76 (OT)
- New York played its first overtime game of the season, outlasting the Mystics on the road 79-76. Tina Charles led the way once again for the Liberty, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season.
- With a hook shot in the third quarter, Charles tallied career-point No. 3,000, matching the 10th fastest mark to the milestone in WNBA history, needing just 175 games to do so.
- New York trailed 17-8 in the first quarter, and the nine points represented the largest deficit overcome for a win this year.
- Epiphanny Prince made her Liberty debut, coming off the bench to score 12 points in 31 minutes. She shot 5-of-12 from the field and also had two assists and three rebounds.
- New York held a decisive 25-10 advantage in bench scoring.
- The Liberty were dominant in the paint, outscoring Washington 44-14, its largest points in the paint margin of the year.
- After scoring 50 points in the first half, one off the highest single-half total of the year, the Liberty netted just 19 in the second half. New York did not hit a field goal in the fourth quarter, becoming just the third team in WNBA history to pick up a win in a game where is failed to convert from the field in a quarter, and the first one to do so on the road or when that drought came in the fourth quarter. It helped that the Liberty held Washington to just 3-of-16 shooting (18.8 percent) in the fourth.
- Sugar Rodgers nailed two 3-pointers and finished with 15 points to reach double figures four a seventh-straight game.
- Tanisha Wright continued her solid play, scoring 12 points, her seventh game in double figures this year, and hit game-tying free throws with just 3.1 remaining to force overtime.
- Kiah Stokes blocked a career-best five shots, all in the second half and overtime.
CHARLES IN CHARGE
Tina Charles has been leading the way for the Liberty during its current three-game winning streak. She has been spectacular, averaging 21.0 ppg and 10.0 rpg over the last three games, including a season-high 26 in a win at Chicago on June 30, and is shooting 44.6 percent from the field during that stretch. Charles now ranks eighth in the WNBA in scoring, averaging 15.6 ppg, and his fourth in rebounding with 9.1 rpg. She has topped 20 points in each of the last two games.
Even before Epiphanny Prince returned to the lineup, New York was able to put its depth on display, as the Liberty are averaging 26.3 ppg from its bench, and the team has won the bench scoring battle seven times, including in each of the last three games. In two meetings, New York’s reserves have outdueled Atlanta’s 78-23, and for the season the Liberty bench holds a 26.3-18.8 advantage over the opposition.
KIAH STOKES BLOCK PARTY
Rookie Kiah Stokes came into the league known as an outstanding shot blocker, and early in her pro career she is living up to that reputation. After swatting a career-best five shots in the overtime win at Washington on July 9, she moved up to third in the WNBA, averaging 2.2 blocks per game, trailing just Brittany Griner (4.2) and Elena Delle Donne (2.4). Stokes has blocked at least one shot in 9-of-11 games played this season and is averaging 3.5 blocks per game over the past four games. In a shot time, she has already established herself as one of the premier interior post defenders in the league.
THE WRIGHT WAY
Tanisha Wright has settled in as one of the veteran leaders for New York. She ranks 2nd in the WNBA with a 57.1 field goal percentage this season. She is second on the team with seven double-figure scoring games, and her 9.4 ppg are 37th in the WNBA. She scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting at Washington on July 9, pushing into double figures for a third-straight game, and she hit a pair of clutch free throws with 3.1 remaining to force overtime.With her, the Liberty have a vocal leader with championship experience, who is constantly talking and pointing out things to rookie Brittany Boyd on the court.