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New York Liberty Take down the Dream

(Photo via

(Photo via

The Atlanta- New York Rivalry is never less than intense.

So long as you have Head Coaches like Bill Laimbeer of the New York Liberty and Michael Cooper of the Atlanta Dream, former rivals in the NBA, going against each other, it’s going to trickle down to their teams.

Atlanta came in with a revised unit after trading long time center Erika DeSouza. They came hard at New York but in the end the twin scorers of Tina Charles and Epiphanny Prince and the ability to adjust made it possible for the Liberty to come out with a 78-67 win. “Fierce, tense, Bill doesn’t like me. I don’t like him going back to our playing days.” Cooper smiled as Bill passed him in the hall, “We send that kind of message to our teams.”

The Liberty (18-7) are taking on the image of a Bill Laimbeer team more and more as the season progresses. They are becoming a shutdown team on defense and more diversified on offense which favors long term success. The Liberty success is something that even Atlanta Head Coach Michal Cooper conceded grudgingly to his rival. “They are a very good basketball team this year.” Cooper admitted, “They are more than just Tina Charles.”

The Liberty were taken out of their offense early with the Dream triple teaming Tina Charles in the post and even doubling Epiphanny Prince and other Liberty guards to force them to bounce out and around. The game was up for grabs for three quarters. But the Liberty proved once again that like Cooper said, they are more than one player. “It was a gritty win, Atlanta fought really well,” Essence Carson pointed out, “We stayed calm, collected, made sure to stay together, played tough defense, and executed when it counted.”

The usually tough Angel McCoughtry who was fighting a stomach ailment according to her coach struggled all night with the Liberty helping defense scoring a low 13 points. She crumbled to the floor when failing to hit shots and was physical in all the ineffective ways a frustrated player can be. “Angel is a great player, she definitely requires extra attention.” Essence explained, “We did well collectively playing team defense and individually keeping them in front of us.” Atlanta made that difficult with new addition Damiris Dantas and Tiffany Hayes who initiated a lot of fouls to tally 17 points to lead the Dream.

The Liberty offensive flow was tempered and failing to finish and the foul trouble of their bigs stifled the Liberty early on. But Carolyn Swords became the lighthouse where all balls were directed safely into the nets with back to back layups closing a run to get within one with under five minutes remaining in the half. Tanisha Wright showed how to impact a game without scoring setting up scores to Charles and one to Swords during that run. Swin Cash took on more scoring responsibility hitting timely shots throughout the half. Epiphanny Prince(18 pts tonight) started heating up and two threes put New York ahead at the half 37-36. “Figuring out solutions to problems that are happening right away is definitely something this team does well, “Candice Wiggins pointed out, “Our versatility comes in handy.”

The third quarter belonged to Charles and Prince of the Liberty. Tina continues to work hard and put herself in superior positions which allowed her to get easy layups or receive passes she finished off better than she started. “I didn’t want to be stagnant waiting for the game to come to me.” Charles explained. Charles , along with Prince, took turns alternating to adjust to Atlanta’s defensive moves. By the end of the third stanza Prince and Charles each had 16 points apiece. “When you play a good basketball team you have to be efficient,” Cooper pointed out, “I think we beat ourselves with a couple of turnovers.

The youth duo of Kiah Stokes and Brittney Boyd put their stamps in the final period. Boyd once again was penetrating defenses bigger in size and waiting for her in the paint and pulling out fouls and baskets. She was a force in the defensive rebounding area with five in total. Kiah, started also taking control of the defensive boards (nine in total) which sparked the transition game of the Liberty. “My defense is my most consistent piece.” Stokes explained, “I kept doing that and offensively just wanted to finish.” That was one area the Liberty are doing better in closing out well their positional advantages as New York guards are finding bigs cutting to the basket and hitting them precisely.

Tina Charles (25 points, 7 rebounds) carried the offensive show throughout the final quarter as New York took a 24-16 final set shutting down any Atlanta attempt to beat them from the field as they held them to 36% shooting. The Liberty moved to 18-7 which is a franchise best start, and finding it hard to keep the secret of their ambition in the WNBA. “This is the start of something great. This is the point in the season that always happens in the WNBA where teams start branching out and up or down,” Wiggins summarized, “We are definitely on the rise.” Essence Carson laughed in agreement, “I think everyone knows about us now.” The Liberty can count themselves in the mix with the elite and are only a small magic number away from qualifying for the playoffs. How deep New York can go is a matter of improving up to the end. “We can do something special,” Stokes said, “We have to clean it up and we can go really far.”

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