NEW YORK CITY, NY - Let us begin by saying the numbers did not lie. For the New York Liberty, it wasn't pretty. The Washington Mystics scored a resounding 82-55 victory over the Liberty Friday at Madison Square Garden. The Liberty are 23-10, closing out the season Sunday at Indiana. Washington is now 18-15. The numbers of note:
Offensive efficiency: Washington 111, New York 74
eFG percentage: Washington 57, New York 35
FR rate: Washington 12, New York 19
OREB percentage: Washington 28, New York 21
TO rate: Washington 15, New York 19
At the half, the Mystics led 47-34. The came out scoring the first dozen points of the second half and were never challenged. The efficiency at the half saw Washington at 112 and the Liberty 85. As the final numbers tell us, things did not get a whole lot better for the home five those last two-quarters.
What the Mystics did well: Shoot. Their 57% eFG mark was largely due to a 12 of 19 showing from downtown. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (team-high scorer with 15 points) and Emma Meesseman combined for 4 OF 5 while Ally Malott, a rookie out of Dayton, was 3 of 4 beyond the arc.
What the Liberty did well: Shoot a perfect 12 of 12 from the line. Beyond that you could find a silver lining in the team high 12 points turned in by Avery Warley-Talbert. The Liberty reserve center logged 20 minutes, did some beautiful work inside, a performance that can only enhance her confidence with the playoffs on the horizon.
Recently signed Erica Wheeler added 10 points for New York in eighteen minutes of action. In efficiency....Ruffin-Pratt and Meesseman shared game of the day honors with 20. The Liberty were led by Warley-Talbert's efficiency of 15.
Going beyond the numbers. Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer primarily played the starters about a quarter before dividing up playing time, among reserves, over the remainder of the contest. Laimbeer reasoned there was nothing really to play for with the home court secure through the playoffs. The Liberty mentor was noticeably disappointed in the team effort. "It's a ‘catch 22," Laimbeer said. "You give different players different minutes, but you still need focus required. We didn't have that. No focus, no energy." Laimbeer was more than willing to praise Washington for coming in with a focused mindset of their own. He did get back to his team, calling out the need for pride. "This game was nothing to play for," he said in reference to standings and seedings. "You go into the game though you are expected to be ready."
The East is turning out to be a succession of land mines for the top seed Liberty. They won the series with Chicago but dropped the last meeting convincingly. Any team with Elena Delle Donne on the floor is a dangerous threat. The Liberty lost their series with Indiana and Washington. That latter point, though, is not of importance to Laimbeer.
"Our record speaks for itself," he said. "So the others beat us in the season series. Big deal. Once playoff time comes you have to be ready game by game and we as a team will."
The Liberty close out the season at Indiana on Sunday. After that, the ‘second season' tips off Friday at the Garden against an opponent still yet to be determined. Getting a win in the Hoosier state is not essential. It would be a nice close out to the regular campaign. One point is certain, having a better overall performance and team effort, with postseason next on the calendar, momentum wise is vital.