After falling at the buzzer against the Connecticut Sun earlier this season, the New York Liberty used a crucial defensive stop and a Shavonte Zellous triple with time expiring to secure a 79-76 victory at Mohegan Sun Arena on Wednesday afternoon.
The Liberty (6-14) trailed by three with under 30 seconds to play before Epiphanny Prince tied the game at 76-up with a three from the left corner. The Sun’s (10-10) Jasmine Thomas tried a three-pointer with four seconds remaining which was left off the mark and a Brittany Boyd rebound gave light to another offensive possession for the visitors.
Out of an inbounds play, Prince passed up her look and dished the rock to Zellous parked by the left wing. Zellous drained the heave using glass for the late-game redemption.
“Good, not because of the game-winner.” Zellous remarked about the contest. “It’s good because we got an actual win. We’ve had some adversity this season, so to come here against a very good Connecticut team and get the win, it’s a plus for us.”
Tina Charles led the Liberty with 19 points and 11 rebounds, notching her fifth double-double of the season. Boyd stuffed the stat sheet as well, contributing five points, eight rebounds and eight assists. The rebound total marked a season-high, and it was her third game this season with at least eight helpers.
Prince added 15 points to the Liberty cause, her third straight game in double figures. Zellous also finished in double figures with 14 points, none more important than her final three. The Liberty are now 6-2 when Zellous scores at least 10 points.
The Liberty defense was instrumental in the victory; the Sun’s 76 points were the fewest by an opponent since the Dream scored 72 (6/19). Additionally, New York’s five blocks in the contest were one short of their season-high. Amanda Zahui B. raised for three rejections off the bench.
“I just think we were locked in, we were moving a little bit.” Head coach Katie Smith commented on her team’s production. “We still gave up a little bit on our help side, we need to be over a little quicker. I thought we were covering for each other. I thought guards were coming in for rebounds – their bigs are active – so our bigs have a handful trying to box them out. I thought our guards really got in there and rounded up some rebounds that we needed. I just thought as a whole, it was just a really good team effort.”
The two matchups between New York and Connecticut have been settled by a combined five points, as both have come down to the final buzzer. The contest was the third Liberty game this season decided by a buzzer-beater, and the first in which they emerged victorious.
The win snapped a three-game Liberty losing streak. They will look to keep the momentum rolling in the season’s fourth matchup against the Chicago Sky on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 3:00 p.m. (ET) at the Westchester County Center.
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