Sometimes, going home is all the fixing you really need. The New York Liberty (13-12) returned from a 5-game road trip to pick up an 81-76 win over the Indiana Fever (9-18) on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Tina Charles scored a team-high 26 points and Shavonte Zellous finished with 16 points.
The Liberty led by as many as 14 points in the 1st half, but saw the Fever close to within 1 in the 2nd quarter thanks to an amazing performance from guard Erica Wheeler, who finished with a career-high 33 points. New York maintained a 6-point lead at the half, but saw the Fever take their 1st lead of the night with :15.1 remaining in the 3rd, and the contest remained tight until the final moments. It was a big shot from guard Epiphanny Prince that helped clinch the win, as her running jumper with 1:53 remaining put New York back in front by 2, and the Liberty shot 9-of-10 from the line over the final :43.
Bench Play Really Stepped Up At Home
After a tough road trip, the Liberty were pushing through fatigue. To head coach Bill Laimbeer’s delight, New York came out the gate with energy. With a ten point lead in the first quarter, Laimbeer decided to rest his starters. The bench maintained the lead and produced 11-19 bench points in the first half.
As a unit, the bench played well and maintained the lead. However, Sugar Rodgers and Lindsay Allen are capable of more offensively. As the Liberty look to secure a playoff spot that – unlike last season – will not earn them a first round bye. More buckets from the bench will be important. Kiah Stokes led the way with 12 points and was 5-6 from the field. Rebecca Allen tallied four points in over six minutes.
Paying Respect to the Late Sanaah Hamilton and Shamoya McKenze
Prior to the game, the Liberty staged a press conference with assistant coach Herb Williams to sign Garden of Dreams Foundation teen Sanaah Hamilton to a ceremonial contract. Hamilton was a teammate of Shamoya McKenze, a teen from Mount Vernon, N.Y., who died tragically when she was struck by a stray bullet on New Year’s Eve. The Liberty had previously made McKenzie their ceremonial 37th pick of the 2017 WNBA Draft.
The Liberty To Partner With RISE To Host 1st Ever Unity Game at The Garden
The New York Liberty will partner with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to host a Unity Game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Aug. 20, when it plays host to the Minnesota Lynx.
“It was a proud moment for the New York Liberty franchise, last season when our players used their platforms as professional athletes and role models, to stand together and speak up for equality and criminal justice reform,” said Liberty Team President Isiah Thomas. “Our Unity Game is borne out of a desire to have continued dialogue, work towards developing solutions to extremely complex issues, and strive to bring our communities closer together.”
“The New York Liberty exemplifies what it means to be leaders in sports, using their platform as athletes and as an organization to stand up and take action to address important societal issues,” said Jocelyn Benson, RISE CEO. “We at RISE are proud to work so closely with a team that models our mission of harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. With this Unity Game, RISE and the Liberty are taking tangible steps toward creating real positive change.”
The unity theme will be reflected in programming throughout the day, including a panel discussion, concourse activations, fan giveaways, and community outreach.
Prior to tipoff, the Liberty and RISE will host a panel discussion from 1-2:30 PM in the Madison Square Garden Theater lobby, featuring a diverse group of athletes, law enforcement officials, and community activists, with a goal of developing a solution-oriented agenda focusing on creating positive change in the community.
Next Up For The Liberty
New York is back on the road Friday night, where they will face the Atlanta Dream. Tip off is at 7:30 PM