The New York Liberty played a tightly contested match with host Chicago Sky. Down the stretch, a pair of momentous sequences for the Sky in response to a Liberty scoring drought put the game in the opposition’s favor, 80-76. Tina Charles provided a team-high 19 points on 40-percent shooting.
Head coach Katie Smith began. “We’ve got to hit shots. They hit shots, and we didn’t. That was honestly the biggest thing. We’ve got to make them more uncomfortable, but they shot at 46-percent, almost 47-percent and we shot at like 37-percent. So again, we’ve got to take good shots and then make them.”
Both clubs battled closely, with New York’s (0-1) largest lead capped at five and Chicago’s (2-0) advantage at eight points. Moreover, the two teams swapped leads eight times and played to seven ties including the game’s final deadlocked score, 62-up, at 7:31 of the fourth quarter.
The game’s leading scorer, Chicago’s Allie Quigley, credited the tie converting two tries at the stripe prior to a three-point make by Diamond DeShields less than a minute later. Amanda Zahui B. surged the Liberty on a putback lay-in and a triple to leave all but one point of their deficit, 68-67. Quigley ended with 22 points.
Charles mentioned. “With myself, I’m not the only one that brings energy to the team. I think everyone did. Especially off the bench. I think Amanda did a great job establishing herself down there.”
Zahui B.’s 15 points off the bench marked the highest point total for the center through last season. Her production was two points shy of her career-high 17 points registered against Minnesota on June 29, 2016. She also contributed seven boards.
From that point to about the game’s clutch time, New York continued to contain Chicago’s control to no more than three points. However, Cheyenne Parker’s reverse finish at 2:03 pushed its lead to five as part of a 4-3 run to help settle the final.
Rookie Kia Nurse recorded 17 points in her first professional outing to go along with three assists, two rebounds and two steals while committing just one turnover in 28:43 minutes as a reserve. Her point total was the most by a Canadian WNBA player in their debut since Stacey Dales scored 23 points for Washington in 2002. Nurse also tied Dales for most three-pointers in her first game.
Nurse stated. “I think I was excited to play, to finally get one under my belt. But, I think I’ve been trying to, within practice, to work on the confidence, make sure my teammates can be confident in me, and earn a sense of trust there. So, they helped me out through the whole entire thing making sure I was ready to go.”
Charles went 8-of-20 from the floor, 1-of-4 from distance and 2-of-3 at the line en route to her team-high 19 points. She also grabbed four rebounds and two steals.
Charles added. “The next game we play is Minnesota. I know each of those individuals on that team. They’ve got Tanisha Wright who’s a great defender. It’s going to be a harder game. We’ve got to be more aggressive. We’ve got to take ownership of our mistakes and what we do. That’s just the way we have to go out and play moving forward.”
Minnesota visits the Westchester County Center, Friday, May 25. The Liberty and Lynx square off at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
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