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Career Nights for Han Xu and Marine Johannés Not Enough to Get Liberty Past Sun

The Connecticut Sun traveled to New York to face the Liberty for their final matchup of the season. In a back-and-forth match, Connecticut won, 94-84.

 

Marine Johannés led the Liberty in scoring with a career-high 21 points on 51.7% shooting from the field and 50% from beyond the arc (4-8).

 

In the first half, Connecticut was hot, shooting 52.6% from the field and 83.3% from three. Courtney Williams scored 12 points, tying Marine Johannés for the first half high.

 

New York led by as many as five in the first quarter and went down as many as 13 in the first half. The Liberty went into the locker room down nine.

 

The home team went on an 11-3 run to begin the third quarter. The run was promoted by three consecutive technical fouls called by the officials. The first two were on Sun players Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas. The third was on Sun coach Curt Miller. Kia Nurse made all three free throws.

 

A fourth technical was called in the third quarter, but this time it was against New York guard Bria Hartley. New York went on to cut the Connecticut lead to one with five minutes left in the third.

 

A layup by Rebecca Allen from a Tanisha Wright assist put New York up one point with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. On the next Liberty possession, Marine Johannés hit a three from the wing to put New York up four.

 

Connecticut regained the lead to end the third quarter ahead six points.

 

A three from the top of the key for Han Xu put the Liberty within five despite four consecutive points by Courtney Williams in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

 

Xu hit a second three-point shot, a career high, to once again cut Connecticut’s lead to five.

 

Connecticut went on to extend their lead to ten with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. An and one by Kia Nurse and a made free throw put New York down seven.

 

The teams traded baskets, but the Sun pulled away, outscoring New York 27-23 in the fourth.

 

UP NEXT: New York will face off against the Washington Mystics for the final time this season on Tuesday, September 3 at 7 p.m. ET.

 

LIBERTY NOTES:     

  • New York shot 43.4% from the field and 41.7% from beyond the arc.
  • Marine Johannés led the Liberty in scoring with a career high 21 points on 51.7% (8-14) shooting from the field and 50% from beyond the arc (4-8). She also had a career-high six assists on the night.
  • Han Xu played a career-high 18 minutes and scored a career-high 12 points, including 2-2 from deep.
  • Tina Charles did not play today due to rest needed. Tina has played 946 minutes in 30 games this season.
  • Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe started for the first time this season. She finished the game with a season-high 10 points and a career-high seven rebounds.
  • Kia Nurse scored 15 points and had three assists. She has scored in double figures in four of the last five games.
  • The Liberty limited its turnovers to thirteen on the night— two less than the team’s average.

SUN NOTES:

  • Connecticut shot 50.7% from the field and 53.8% from the three-point line.
  • Williams recorded her 21st double-figure game going 10-of-19 from the field and a perfect 2-of-2 from behind the arc and 4-of-4 from the foul line. This is her fourth game this season with 20 or more points.
  • With 20 points on the night, Alyssa Thomas scored her 2000th career point and now has 2,003 total points. She also led the team with nine rebounds.
  • Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas also reached double figures. Jones tallied her 26th double-figure game with 12 points and Thomas recorded her 21st game in double figures. She also added a team high seven assists which is her 10th game this season with seven or more.
  • Shekinna Stricklen added another achievement to her season from behind the arc. The forward scored nine points and made three three-pointers to take sole possession of 20th overall on the All-Time Three Pointers Made list.

New York Liberty Quotes

 

Smith on the team effort tonight…

“Loved the energy and I thought we moved the ball. I thought people were attacking and a lot of people were involved. I thought everyone was really locked in and really bringing the energy on both ends. In the second half, we were able to ramp up our defense and got some life. Lots of people were ready to play tonight.”

 

Smith on Han Xu’s breakout game…

“She can score. She is going to find a way to get shots and can knock them down. She’s a solid defender, it’s sometimes with the change of speed and people attacking her with open space can be a little hard. Or quick turnovers or getting up and down the floor with speedy bigs. She knows how to play; she knows the game and she’s smart on both ends. Again, boxing out and some of the physicality against certain players but overall very comfortable both offensively and defensively.”

 

Smith on placing Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe into the starting rotation…

“I chose Nayo because I thought with Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas, her and Zahui could be a good match up. Jonquel and Alyssa are not your typical post player, I thought Nayo gave us that versatility on the defensive end. Along with being a big and being able to defend guard like players. She was 5-6, looking at the rim, getting extra possessions and runs the floor hard. I’ve always been pleased about what she brings to the table and really happy with how she played tonight.”

 

Smith on Marine Johannes’s strong performance…

“I thought she was aggressive. There was a little lull there when she wasn’t looking to score and just kind of letting the ball loose. I like the aggressiveness. I think she has great vision. She’s comfortable and has quickness to get around traps. She can raise up and knock down shots. For her during that stretch, she wasn’t looking to score and she needs to be someone who is looking to attack.”

 

Smith on the team’s mindset given this hard-fought game…

“I hope it’s a positive. They have a lot of confidence in themselves that no matter who, what, when, they can play. When they come together, they’re playing hard, moving the basketball, covering for each other, flying around on defense and trapping. They can play with anyone. We’ve tried to tell them that all year, but I hope they believe that and do it on a regular basis.”

 

Nayo- Raincock Ekunwe opening statement

“I feel proud of the team on how we played tonight without one of our biggest players.” I think a lot of people stepped up, it felt good to play together as a team.”

 

Nayo on next game

“Working on the things Coach Katie Smith has been talking about like taking care of the ball, limiting turn overs, and pressuring the defense.”

 

Raincock- Ekunwe on team mindset

“Our mindset is improving and getting better.”

 

Tanisha Wright opening comments

“We were doing well focusing on the details trying to get stops defensively.” Unfortunately, we were not able to get the win and sustain throughout, but the effort was there.”

 

Tanisha Wright on next opponent

“Trying to win games and play the best basketball and hopefully that results in a win.”

 

Marine Johannes opening statements

“We have nothing to lose, we have to continue to work and be aggressive on offense and defense.”

 

Johannes on team

“It is been a hard couple of weeks, but I am happy about this game.”

 

Johannes on next opponent

“Continue to work like a team and stay together.”

 

Han Xu opening statements

“I did my best to play.” Coach Smith believed in me and let me play on the court.”

 

Connecticut Sun Quotes

 

Head Coach Curt Miller on Courtney Williams performance

“She’s in a groove right now and we really needed it when there was a 18-3 stretch there in the 3rd quarter. We needed a spark; we didn’t have a basket for a long time, and she put us on her back during that stretch by making some tough shots. When she gets on a roll she can score as much as anyone in this league.”

 

Message to the team

“We made tough two’s all game, that’s what I was saying to them in the 1st half. We needed to get in the paint and keep attacking for easier shots. We’ve been learning lessons with battling adversity, but we can’t win big playoff games giving up 25 second-chance points. Tonight gives us at least a 1st round bye, and the outcome of tomorrow’s game will give us our magic number on what we need with three remaining. But the big picture is, what do we need to do to get to the semifinals?”

 

Battling adversity

“The game became really physical and we didn’t respond to the physicality very well, which lead to us becoming frustrated. We eventually just had to gather ourselves to finish that 3rd quarter strong and maintain the six-point lead going into the 4th quarter.”

 

Courtney Williams on late third quarter momentum shift

“I think the momentum just shifted a little bit with us getting three techs. Then they got the crowd on their side, but I think we battled back and we got back in the position we wanted to be in.”

 

Jonquel Jones on team effort

“I think we’ve been making strides all season, I think we’re in the right direction now heading into the playoffs. We had everybody step up and put in a great game tonight. They came and took the lead back in the third, and we came back to rally and win the game. I think that builds character and gives us a more realistic approach that it’s not just going to be blowouts, it’s going to be gritty games that we’re going to have to fight through.”

 

Alyssa Thomas on third quarter

“There were the all technical fouls and we didn’t really come out to play, but once we locked in, played defense, we kind of sealed it. We just knew that it was all of us, we needed to step up and start playing defense and not allowing them to get second chance points or get to the rim easily.”

 

Alyssa Thomas on Courtney Williams

“She’s just playing well right now. I think she went through a bit of a slump but we all have confidence in her, and once she makes one shot, it’s dangerous for the other team. We are just going to her right now, until she can go no more.”

 

For more information on the New York Liberty fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

https://liberty.wnba.com/

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