After the New York Liberty worked up its largest lead all season, the Indiana Fever used a pair of runs to not only deadlock scoring during the game’s waning time but force overtime. Rookie Kia Nurse registered eight of her franchise setting 34 points in the extra session to help lift the Liberty to an 87-81 victory, Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nurse’s 34-point production was the most by a New York (2-2) rookie and most by a reserve in franchise history. Moreover, her total was the most by a rookie since Seattle’s Breanna Stewart dropped 38 against Atlanta on June 29, 2016.
The Liberty led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter until a 19-5 Fever (0-6) run prior to the fourth quarter’s start made things interesting again.
Tina Charles stated. “We had that game. I want to say we were up (20). They came back. They’re searching for a win. They’re gonna work hard. That’s all they know. They’re young players, but kudos to Kia Nurse. Being a rookie and having 34, she really held us down this game.”
In the fourth, the Fever dwindled the Liberty lead down to two, before a Candice Dupree basket deadlocked scoring at 69-up with 1:15 to play. Kelsey Mitchell would go on to score in the open court before a pair of Charles’ free-throws and an empty Fever possession put a fresh five minutes onto the clock.
Head coach Katie Smith explained. “We’ve got to get stops. Yea, we’ll get buckets. We’ll get it on the other end. We had to find a way to get them up on the rim, go get them rebounds, because they outworked us a little bit in regular time. Tina (Charles) finally got some shots to go down for her. Kia Nurse had a heck of a ball game, but again the defensive side of getting those stops, getting down there and getting a score.”
In overtime, the Liberty once again led by double-figures (10) in large part to four makes at the stripe by Nurse and two by Charles to keep the game out of reach.
Nurse said. “I thought it was a good battle as a team. We fought through some adversity there. I think we came back, played together and got some stops. (We) had some key contributions from a lot of different people and some key plays down the stretch.”
Charles followed up her 34-point effort with her third consecutive double-double performance. The forward finished with 23 points and 10 boards.
Kiah Stokes also helped considerably on the glass with 12 boards, the first time she reached double-figures since pulling down 10 on August 27, 2017 against the Sky.
Nurse also registered nine rebounds, four assists, three triples and went 15-of-16 from the line. As a team, the Liberty went 30-of-32 at the stripe.
Tonight’s overtime battle was the first for the Liberty since June 16, 2017 when New York beat Dallas 102-93 on the road.
The Liberty host the Phoenix Mercury Tuesday, June 5 at Madison Square Garden. The morning matinee begins at 11 a.m.
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