The New York Liberty are in a slump. In a battle between two teams in need of wins, the New York Liberty fell again, this time to the Chicago Sky 78-68 at Madison Square Garden. Stefanie Dolson led the Sky (6-12) with 23 points. Kahleah Copper came off the bench to add 13 points in 20 minutes to help offset an subpar game by leading scorer Allie Quigley, who averages 16.4 points per game but finished with 10.
With the loss, the Liberty are now 8-9 and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. No longer considered a championship team, now the Liberty must search for an identity, after dropping their 3rd straight game.
“It was a loss we didn’t think we could use right now,” said Liberty Head coach Bill Laimbeer, “The tightness that is upon our team now is bothering us. It’s a struggle like pulling teeth across the board.”
The New York Liberty received 23 points from Tina Charles along with 19 rebounds for an impressive double-double. That was the most rebounds recorded by a Liberty player in a game since 2005 when Elena Baranova had 18 boards. Shavonte Zellous also had a double-double in the losing effort with 14 points and 11 boards. No other Liberty players scored in double-digits, though, as the home team simply failed to hit shots consistently despite a strong rebounding performance.
The Liberty was just 28.6 percent from three-point range and 35.1 percent overall from the floor. They also missed eight of the 20 free throw attempts they had, leaving those valuable points on the board. A bright spot was the rebounding thanks to Charles, as New York won the battle 49-34, but with their shots not falling, it didn’t seem to help.
“We could have won the ballgame if we made some shots,” Laimbeer said, Overall, our defense is keeping ourselves in games. It’s the offensive part is what’s struggling now. We are not getting consistent bench scoring. I might have to move a starter there to get us a boost when everyone is tired.”
Kiah Stokes Needs To Step Up
When the Liberty were winning games, Kiah Stokes has been a vital contributor. It can be argued she is the reason the Liberty have been elite defensively over the past few seasons. But on Friday night, after a seven-game stretch in which Stokes played fewer than 15 minutes per contest, she played 8:54 total. It’s not as if Kia Vaughn has been struggling—with a double-double in that stretch—but the extent to which the Liberty’s identity is tied up in what Stokes is and Stokes does cannot be ignored. And they are not 2-6 over their past eight games.
Next Up For The Liberty
New York continues its 3-game homestand on Sunday, July 16, when it hosts the Washington Mystics at Madison Square Garden. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.