Friday, July 17, 2015

Liberty 64, Sun 57: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK CITY ­- The tennis analogy probably was embedded in consciousness, thanks to recently concluded Wimbledon. When you are at home, facing a quality opponent, you have to ‘hold serve.’

The New York Liberty fell behind early, regrouped, and went on to post a 64­-57 victory over the Connecticut Sun at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Beyond a defense holding the Sun to an efficiency of 69, was a significant win over a team with one road loss. A division rival vanquished was an added bonus.

Once again, Tina Charles led the way for New York, with 22 points and 12 boards, both game high figures. Kiah Stokes was a defensive terror with eight blocked shots. But it was more than two players. Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer was pleased that whoever got the call, gave quality minutes.

Tanisha Wright scored four points in 25 minutes, yet drew Laimbeer’s praise, and not just for handing out five assists. Wright raised the energy level of her teammates through vocal encouragement and deed, at a time it was needed most.

Thankful to trail by just five at intermission, the Liberty regrouped those final two quarters. Wright played no small part in the Liberty turning the game around the final twenty minutes.

Now, the Liberty stand at 9­-5. They embark on a crucial four-game road trip. The mindset is altered considerably from last year. Even from a few months ago. In the spring, the playoffs seemed, to many, a long shot. Now, there is talk around the Garden of not just playoffs. Homecourt advantage and advancement are hot topics.

When the US Open, tennis again, hits Queens in late August, the Liberty plan to be a part of the New York sporting conversation. With playoffs arriving, they are something to be looked forward to this go-round.

Walking out to the Garden floor, Ray spotted a young woman leaning on a rail in silence. She was praying, she later said. It turns out she was the national anthem singer, Victoria Dennis. Her prayers were answered, as she did a fabulous job:
The Sun's Alex Bentley, a picture of concentration:
Bill Laimbeer simultaneously questions and begs for a call:
The Connecticut huddle in a late game timeout:
Epiphanny Prince holds the ball as time expires on another Liberty victory:
Liberty legend Sue Wicks greets a fan:
A Stanford alumni meeting, as Kayla Peterson and Chiney Ogwumike of the Sun flank Brooklyn product Melanie Murphy. All three were integral pieces of the 2011 Cardinal team that went 32-3, (18-0 in Pac-12 play) and advanced to the Final Four:

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