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New York Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer (Photo by Brandon Koodish - Double G Media)

New York Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer (Photo by Brandon Koodish – Double G Media)

The New York Liberty (7-6) opened a 4-game road trip with a 67-54 setback to the Washington Mystics (10-5) on Thursday night at the Verizon Center. Guard Shavonte Zellous led the Liberty with 17 points, and guard Epiphanny Prince finished with 12 points. Tina Charles was held to just eight points, her lowest output of the season. 

“I think everything fell on us offensively,” Tina Charles said after the game.” At the end of the day, we have to step up and we have to carry our load. We didn’t have everyone carry their load tonight.”

 The Liberty committed a season-high of 21 turnovers but the Mystics only scored four points off those turnovers. Washington led 46-34 after three quarters as New York only scored seven points in the frame. The Liberty went scoreless for the first two minutes of the fourth and Washington pulled away. With all those turnovers and offensive struggles, it was a night the Liberty will want to forget.

O How The Liberty Needed Some Sugar

The Liberty was missing starting guard Sugar Rodgers (lower-back injury) but started strong. Rodgers had been averaging 13.3 points-per-game and 3.9 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game this season. Rookie Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe started in Rodgers’ place, and added little, with zero points on zero shots attempted, one turnover, and one defensive rebound in 13:58 on the floor.

Washington’s Bench Was The Difference

The Mystics starters were sluggish and off-the-mark to start the game, and so Thibault turned to his bench about two-thirds of the way through the first quarter looking for a spark. While the buckets didn’t start to rain in immediately,  Latta, Tianna Hawkins, and Natasha Cloud helped sure up the defense, and baskets by Latta and Hawkins allowed the Mystics to end the first on a 5-0 run, which cut the Liberty’s lead to six after 10 minutes.

Latta had 15 points and was 4-for-6 from the three-point range. And Cloud added two points, two assist, and two crucial steals. Together, they completely changed the trajectory of the game.

What’s Next For The Liberty

The Liberty continues its 4-game road trip at Atlanta on Sunday, July 2. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET).  Coach Laimbeer believes the team will bounce back quickly.

“The same energy we had today would be necessary in Atlanta,” said Laimbeer after the game.
“We’ve got a practice day to go over some offensive stuff. We’re not that bad offensively. We’re that solid defensively, but we’re not that bad offensively. It’s a one-out game hopefully, I’ve got to make a few changes, we were missing some players, but at the same time, we shouldn’t have laid an egg offensively like we did.”

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