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Sugar Rodgers, New York Liberty Proving They Belong Among The Elite in WNBA

Sugar Rodgers (Photo by John Jones - Double G Media)

Sugar Rodgers (Photo by John Jones – Double G Media)


The New York Liberty are leading the Eastern Conference of the WNBA in 2016. However, they have yet to beat an elite team this year. They also trail the two western powers, the Lynx and Sparks for the two best records in the league. Check both off the list.

New York found it’s signature moment of the season last night in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The hand that provided the pen was held by Sugar Rodgers. At the Target Center, the site where she won a WNBA championship as mostly an observer, Sugar hit for 30 points, a career high, helping the Liberty wipe away a 15-point deficit in the final quarter. And yes, it was overtime again. This time New York won 95-92. And they did it without Tina Charles.

While Charles missed action to repair the damage on her nose, the Liberty found willing players to make up the difference. They found it in young Amanda Zahul B, who got the start at forward and scored 17 points and grabbed nine boards. The Liberty’s other big off the bench, Kiah Stokes also added nine with eleven rebounds and a block. Brittney Boyd continues to bring effective play with swagger, scoring eight and adding three assists. But Shavonte Zellous is truly emerging into her original level of play with another double digit night (15 points, 3 assists). All points were crucial to this win and no contribution went unrewarded.

With the new WNBA playoff format, only the best two records get an automatic bye to the Conference Finals. This means that the regular season games mean that much more. It also stands to reason that the Liberty (11-5) had to take games off defending champion Minnesota (13-3).

One of the major keys to the Liberty success this season has been the metamorphosis of Sugar Rodgers, from potential bench impact to consistency as a starter. Sugar has been, for the most part, the much needed second scorer to complement Tina Charles. She went for thirteen three-point attempts and hit seven of them. She is not afraid and the threat of her shot and speed has kept the middle open for the bigs most of this season. She continues to be a gym rat and her game has seen marked improvement as she has begun to tap the upper levels of her talent ceiling. The Liberty are learning quickly that it is quite lofty.

The Liberty are slowly climbing back into the upper echelons of the league and now travel to Phoenix to tackle Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi once more before heading to Los Angeles on this crucial road trip. New York has found the road to be quite comfortable as they are 7-1 as opposed to their 4-4 home record. Things are starting to take form for New York in their 20th anniversary season.

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