New York, NY -- The New York Liberty seized their opportunity for a win as the Washington Mystics came into today’s game at Madison Square Garden with several injured players. With the Mystics having not only one, but two key players out, injuries gave the Liberty the upper hand coming into this game.
At the Mystics’ last game versus Indiana, Elena Delle Donne and Tayler Hill both suffered injuries. A fan favorite, Delle Donne, sprained her right ankle and will have her playing status evaluated on Monday. However, Hill’s injury was more severe with a torn ACL in her right knee, which will cause her to be out for the remainder of the season.
The Liberty lit up the first quarter, as they sank basket-after-basket, and drove their fans wild in the stands. New York took a commanding lead at the end of the first quarter, 30-14.
“Today it was quite a different atmosphere,” New York’s head coach Bill Laimbeer stated. “We knew going into the game that the mood of the game had changed.”
The momentum the Liberty had in the first quarter carried through all the way to the end of the second stanza, where they led the Mystics 45-29. New York players Sugar Rodgers and Shavonte Zellous both contributed in scoring with nine points each, while the Mystics struggled to sink baskets with two of their top scorers down for the count.
Bria Hartley was hungry going into the third period. She led the team at halftime with a total of nine points, and by the end of the third quarter, had 15 points total.
The Liberty’s new all-time franchise record holder and single-game record for rebounding, Tina Charles, had a fairly quiet game with six points, seven rebounds, and three assists, however, was proud of the camaraderie her team showed all-around elevating their performance on the court.
“Offensively I think the insert of Bria Hartley really changed things,” stated Charles. “Just having her at the point guard and being able to push up the ball up the floor, we were able to get a lot of movement. A lot of individuals in the locker room were able to touch the ball, and I think that just helped us a lot. And then confidence wise, it just took off from there.”
Efforts from Emma Messeman (19 points) and Ivory Latta (nine points) were made to carry the Mystics offensively, but ultimately were not enough. Washington lacked defensive energy and had too many turnovers (11), while the Liberty played as the more unified team with many players contributing to scoring with 21 team assists on the day.
What made New York the stronger performer today was not only their drive to the basket and up-tempo pace but the energy they brought defensively. The Liberty outrebounded the Mystics 46-30, which ultimately played the biggest role in them clinching the victory over Washington.
New York’s authoritative lead only grew greater in the final stretch of the game, ultimately finishing strong with the win at home 85-55, and bringing their record to .500 at 9-9.
“Hopefully we’ll say this is a start,” said Laimbeer. “It’s just one game. We’ll see what happens at the next game. But I think I like the direction we’re going in and I think the players like the direction we’re going in. And let’s see if it continues.”
The Liberty hope to carry the momentum and confidence from this win when it takes on the Connecticut Sun at home on Wednesday, July 19. Washington also will play again on Wednesday, back at home against Atlanta.