In their last home game before All-Star break, the New York Liberty entered today’s matchup against the Los Angeles Sparks looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The team succeeded, defeated the Sparks 83-78 at the Westchester County Center, ending Los Angeles’ three-game winning streak.
Marine Johannès made her homecourt debut scoring a team-and season-high 17 points on 100% (6-6) shooting from the field and also 100% (4-4) from beyond the arc.
New York jumped out to a quick start in their last matchup of the 2019 regular season against Los Angeles, leading by as many as 12 points in the first half of the game.
The Liberty maintained its first half lead for the remainder of the game, despite many runs by the Sparks in the second half to cut the New York lead down to as few as one point.
The Liberty went up by nine early in the fourth quarter, but a 3-point shot by Nneka cut the Liberty lead to 64-59.
The last minute of the fourth quarter came down to free throw shooting for the Liberty to help clinch the win. Reshanda Gray was fouled with 36.4 seconds in the fourth quarter and made 1-2 free throws to give the Liberty a two-point lead.
Tanisha Wright was fouled with 32.9 seconds on the clock and made 2-2 free throws to give New York a four-point lead.
The Sparks were tenacious. A made three-point shot by Los Angeles guard Chelsea Gray cut the Liberty lead to one point with 24.3 seconds left in the game.
Tina Charles shot 2-2 free throws with 17.4 seconds in the game to give New York a three-point lead and ultimately a victory.
The game saw only four lead changes, which all occurred in the first quarter. With 16 games left in the season, New York’s new record of 8-10 is one game better than last year’s overall winning record.
UP NEXT: The Liberty will be back in action in Connecticut against the Sun on Wednesday, July 24 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
- Asia Durr did not play due to a minor groin strain injury.
- New York shot 46.2% from the field and 72.7% (8-11) from the three-point line.
- The Liberty bench scored 33 points, with every player who entered the game scoring at least two points.
- Marine Johannes scored a team-and season-high 17 points off of the bench, leading all first-half scorers with 13 first-half points (11 in the second quarter) on 100% shooting from the field and three-point line.
- Kia Nurse was the team’s second-leading scorer with 14 points on 66.7% from the field and 50% (1-2) from beyond the arc. This is her 15th time scoring double figures in the 2019 seaosn.
- Reshanda Gray recorded a near double-double with 10 points on 57.1% from the field, and eight rebounds.
- Tanisha Wright started her first game of the season and finished with seven points and five assists.
- Brittany Boyd recorded her 100th assist of the season, finishing with a game-high of six.
- Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe finished the game tying her season-high eight points off of the bench.
- Los Angeles shot 43.1% from the field and 40% from the three-point line.
- Nneka Ogwumike led all scorers on the day with 20 points and twelve rebounds, her 14th double-double of the season.
- Three additional Sparks players scored double figures for the team. Chelsea Gray (19), Chiney Ogwumike (16) and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (10).
- The Sparks shot 67% (12-16) from the free throw line.
New York Liberty Quotes
Coach Katie Smith opening statement:
“Got the win. Happy about that. Thought we were locked in from the start. We had a lot of people contribute. I thought our defense was better than what we did in these last three games, and I think there’s still room for improvement, but I’m really pleased with lots of contributions from people on both ends and just pleased that we got out of here with a win.”
Coach Katie on team effort:
“Tonight I thought they were locked in. Sometimes the ball didn’t go down but we got good looks. I thought our effort and our team tonight was ready to rock and roll.”
Coach Katie bench contributions:
“We have a really deep team. I thought Boyd had some really good minutes today, she put a lot of pressure on the [Sparks]. Marine gave us good minutes, Bec, Nayo and Gray came in and they set screens, they dive, they get rebounds, and then you have shooters and guards around who can go make plays. I thought the pace of our play with them was great. I thought they were attacking and had a lot of movement on the offensive end.”
Coach Katie on Reshanda Gray:
“Her defense has been really solid. I think being able to throw her the basketball and she’s able to make moves and finish against contact. She’s been able to guard a Kalani Brown and Britney Griner, folks that are taller than her, but she’s able to position herself so what she brings is hard work. She does all the dirty work and couldn’t care less, and she’s flying around and people know she’s there, she gives 100% every single time.
Coach Katie on Marine Johannès:
“She’s a scorer, she was able to shake loose, she was able to hit shots, she’s got a little bounce to her. She’s a solid pick and roll guard. Need her to take care of the ball, but she gets out on the break and runs. She’s athletic, someone who can stretch the floor and they have to play her honest. I expect her to be a threat, to be able to knock down shots, to be able to space the floor, to be able to get on the break. She’s versatile and can be in a lot of action.”
Tina Charles next play mindset:
“For me it comes with my growth in this league, it’s just thinking about the next possession. After that possession is done and over with, I try to put it as far back in my mind and try to focus on the moment. I believe in the way I shoot free throws over the years, especially at clutch time in the games. I want to have the ball in my hands at clutch times if I know the other team is going to try and foul to get the ball back. For me it all about bearing down and thinking about the next possession.”
Kia Nurse on playing with Marine Johannès:
“She’s a scorer, she’s got a swagger to her game that’s a little bit different. She brings a European swagger to a North American game that’s a lot of fun to watch. She is confident and I love the way that she plays.”
Kia Nurse on team defense:
“We’ve been really focusing on team defense in practice. It’s amping up the energy, getting up into people’s shots to make them uncomfortable, and I think that’s something that happened a lot. We did a great job defensively trying to get deflections and steals. Therefore, allowing that to become a part of our offense and transition game, so that was the big difference for us today.”
Marine on her new team:
“I’m just happy to be here. I try to be a good shooter, work hard and just enjoy it.”
Los Angeles Sparks Quotes
Coach Derek Fisher on piecing together despite missing some of the roster:
“We’re not making any excuses in terms of our roster and the numbers. We still had a chance to win today, at least in terms of giving ourselves a chance to win. We didn’t finish the first quarter very well, and that was pretty much the difference in the game in terms of points. I’m still trying to figure out how to come to grips with Chelsea and Nneka going to the free throw line four total times. As all-stars and all-star starters, and as many times and they were going to the basket, I don’t understand how that happens.”
Coach Derek on the Ogwumike sisters:
“It’s who they are as women is what makes it work. They’re willing to sacrifice for whatever is best for the team, and I think when you approach things from that perspective you play with more fluidity because you’re not trying to force things to make yourself look good, you’re just playing basketball to help the Sparks win. The second reason is that we’re trying is the interchangeable nature of Chiney, Nneka and Candace, they’re all capable of doing tons of things on the court.”
Nneka Ogwumike on the flow of the game:
“It was one of those neck and neck type of games. They fought hard, we tried to fight back as hard as we could. It was just trying to get over that little hump. Whether it was string stops together or hitting shots, it was tough to get into a flow when the game is constantly stopping. That’s hard, for them too.”
Ogwumike on the Sparks limited roster:
“We’ve been in this situation before and we are rolling with who we have. I think what is most important with this is managing ourselves properly off of the court. Recovery is serious business right now. We always come ready to play, so just us being able to regroup and get back into the groove. Everyone has to be ready for game day, that is really what we need to do.”
Chelsea Gray on Liberty’s free throw opportunities:
“We were letting them score at the free throw line. We were putting them on the line and they shot around 39 free throws. If we keep them off the line, it’s a different game.”
Gray on falling short of a comeback:
“Once you see that you’re up, you are fired up. Your mindset doesn’t really change depending on the time and score, but we were definitely looking to take that lead. We kept putting them at the line and they got some buckets. We had good looks down the stretch in the 4th quarter that maybe in another game will convert.”
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