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Mercury Sets on Liberty Win Streak

(Photo by John Jones - Double G Media)

(Photo by John Jones – Double G Media)


The basketball Gods giveth, and they taketh away.

The New York Liberty, while celebrating 20 years in the WNBA and trotting out the original 1997 team, lost focus immediately and failed to close at the end. The result was a 104-97 overtime defeat to Diana Taurasi and the struggling Phoenix Mercury at Madison Square Garden this past Sunday.

New York (10-5), had won six straight and looked sufficiently motivated as the past New York Liberty greats like Sue Bird, Rebecca Lobo, and Teresa Weatherspoon, came out to intense cheers. But as soon as the game began, they forgot to play the game and were down 18-4 at one point.

“They made shots. They drained three balls, “Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We knew it wasn’t going to last forever.”

But after that, there was little to fault as the bench, led by Kiah Stokes, Brittney Boyd, Amanda Zahui B, and Rebecca Allen, cut into the deficit. What was most impressive was that the Liberty remained cool and took their time.

Tina Charles was the go-to for all crucial points as her statline read. The WNBA’s leading scorer hit for 26, marking her seventh straight 20-point effort. New York got a secondary scoring burst from Sugar Rodgers, who rained threes all night long. Five times she found the range from the three point arc for 23 points. They even got a great contribution from Shavonte Zellous who contributed 13 as well.

But the twin performances of Taurasi (24 points) and Candice Dupree who led Phoenix with 26 offset New York’s efforts and all five starters finished with double figure scoring.

“They found a few of our shooters, went to the free throw line, that helps,” Sun Head Coach Sandy Brondello explained. “Obviously our starters really stepped up tonight and finished the game off for us.”


(Photo by John Jones - Double G Media)

(Photo by John Jones – Double G Media)


The Mercury rallied in the fourth and New York had an answer every time but Kiah Stokes fouling out did not help the cause. As a matter of fact the referees made some calls which could be described as a mirage. It would end up contributing to the Mercury comeback.

“It was frustrating because we were playing good enough defense and they just kept making the free throw line,” Laimbeer pointed out.

Minus her intimidating presence and a last-second miss by Tina Charles sent the game into New York’s fifth overtime of the year. They would fail in it for the third time as the Mercury dominated the extra period 15-8 as the Liberty ran out of gas.

“Every time you play New York, it’s hard,” Taurasi summarized. “We had some stops, we had some scores. Everyone just did a little bit and we got there.”

However, unlike past losses, Laimbeer seemed to chalk this one up to the numbers game.

“This is not a setback, we’re just on to the next,” Laimbeer exclaimed. That next one starts tonight at defending champion Minnesota, followed by stops in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

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