The New York Liberty played from behind for a large majority of the night against the visiting Dallas Wings. However, the Liberty used a 17-5 spurt to turn the tide midway through the fourth quarter and ultimately seal the come-from-behind victory for not only their first win of the season, but first victory under the direction of first-year head coach Katie Smith.
Tina Charles was the Liberty’s (1-2) frontrunner with a game-high 34 points but it was a 25-foot three-point heave from Shavonte Zellous with 34 ticks left that moved New York in front of Dallas (2-3) for good.
Zellous began. “We just needed a possession. We talk about it every day in practice. As long as we get a possession, whether it’s a good shot, bad shot, we just don’t want to have a turnover. Clock going down, you just have to make something happen and that’s what I did.”
Zellous’ triple broke the game’s third and final tie in the fourth quarter. The Liberty overcame its largest deficit of the year, trailing by as many as 17 points, evident at the 3:59 of the first quarter.
Smith explained. “We didn’t press up and knew they could shoot, we allowed them to look over us and take uncontested shots. Just a little bit of effort making them do something different, like putting the ball on the floor. We finally had that sense of urgency and put some pressure on them and dictated the game to make them uncomfortable. They really responded after that first quarter, challenging each other and flying around. Sure, they hit shots but way more difficult for the remainder of the game.”
The Liberty were also supported by Marissa Coleman’s 12 points and Kia Nurse’s 11 points which marked the first time the Liberty had at least four players score double-figures. The last time New York had four or more players in double-figures came on September 3, 2017 against Dallas. Zellous (12), Charles (18), Kia Vaughn (11), Epiphanny Prince (20) and Bria Hartley (13) tallied.
Tonight’s victory marked the first for Smith at the helm. She stated. “It’s pretty cool. It’s unreal and as I said this team makes it really special. I’m pumped, they have put up with me and I’ve tried to take care of them. The first win I’ll take it, hopefully the first of many but one is where we will start.”
The Wings were led by Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith who contributed 28 and 20 respective points.
New York heads to Indiana this Saturday, June 2 for a 7:00 PM (ET) start time.
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