Sugar Rodgers attacks basket for Liberty against San Antonio. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
New York City - Coming off a hard fought victory in Chicago on Friday, the New York Liberty entertained the San Antonio Stars on Sunday, with the visitors entering the Garden 5-14 and without leading scorer Kayla McBride, out for the season with a fractured foot. It is the kind of game coaches like the Liberty’s Bill Laimbeer can dread.
In the final analysis, the Liberty prevailed, 75-65. The second unit was the key and story as New York improved to 15-6 on the season.
First quarter: The Liberty win the tap. As is the case every contest, the first pass goes into Tina Charles in the low post. Charles hits a weak-side cutting Sugar Rodgers with a perfect pass, making it 2-0. Just as it’s drawn up on the grease board. Carolyn Swords uses her 6-6 size to finish a few nice close in shots. Early on it is evident that San Antonio has a few good shooters and slashing types to get to the basket, but not a consistent post presence. That hurts, especially on defense, trying to match up with the likes of Charles and Swords.
Score: NY Liberty 22, San Antonio 17
Second quarter: Amanda Zahui B. mixes it up nice inside. At 6-5, her development with more playing time would be another inside threat Laimbeer would love to have. The Liberty’s Brittany Boyd sometimes violates the speed limit in a figurative sense. Still, you have to love the energy she brings. The Stars are hanging tough by looking to get conversions in transition rather than set up in half court.
Halftime: NY Liberty 33, San Antonio 31
Possessions: San Antonio 41, New York Liberty 42
Offensive efficiency: San Antonio 76, New York Liberty 79
Third quarter: Good start for the Liberty, essential in a game of this nature, as San Antonio hung around enough to be a serious threat. The first four minutes see the Liberty win 9-4 to establish a seven-point lead. That will be their largest from that point on. They threaten to pull away, and each time, the Stars are able to respond. Scoring by committee for San Antonio while Sydney Colson has put up a nice ten-point, three-assist performance through three quarters. Once again, it’s down to the final ten minutes, or maybe another overtime.
Score: NY Liberty 50, San Antonio 47
Fourth quarter: Again, the Liberty draw first blood. Going to the basket full speed, Boyd turns her back to the basket and puts up a shot that banks in as she hits the floor. Classic Boyd, giving the Liberty a little nine-point breathing room with seven-and-a-half minutes to go. The Liberty gradually open a 13-point lead. A major performer in the final quarter run was Zahui B., rapidly becoming a fan favorite with the Garden crowd thanks to her hustle and willingness to battle in the paint. No late run for San Antonio. No overtime.
Final: NY Liberty 75, San Antonio 65
Possessions: San Antonio 78, NY Liberty 80
Offensive efficiency: San Antonio 83, NY Liberty 94
eFG%: San Antonio 38, NY Liberty 45
Free Throw Rate: San Antonio 22, NY Liberty 32
Offensive Rebound%: San Antonio 22, NY Liberty 26
Turnover Rate: San Antonio 15, NY Liberty 18
Leading scorers and EF:
San Antonio: Monique Currie 17 points, EF 25
NY Liberty: Amanda Zahul B. 14 points, EF 17
NOTES: Tina Charles scored 10 points, but had an 18 EF thanks to four rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. Swords paced all rebounders with 11. Moriah Jefferson scored 11 points, posting an EF of 29. Jefferson added six boards, three steals and two assists, against just two turnovers.
Touchy subject: A woman’s weight. Seriously, Jayne Appel-Marinelli starred for Stanford before entering the WNBA. Appel-Marinelli is heavier than those Cardinal days. The roster has her at 6-4 and 210 pounds, but truthfully, she appears to be a little in excess of that. Appel-Marinelli scored two points, grabbing four rebounds in 23 minutes. She rarely went more than five minutes at a stretch due to conditioning. The point of all this? The Stars need an inside presence. Having Appel-Marinelli in top form would be a plus.
What the Liberty did well: Ride the second unit momentum to victory. Given the opportunity to get more minutes, they responded, and were the primary reason the home team pulled away for the victory.
What San Antonio did well: Hang around. Coach Bill Laimbeer admitted his club came out lethargic. Give credit to the Stars to seize the opportunity and nearly pull off a road victory.
“Been coming for them. We need to trust the second unit more, come together, understand their identity, play defense. Hold it together, extend the lead and provide the spark. The minutes will increase. Our second unit has some exciting players and energized the crowd. Amanda is inside-out, can shoot from outside, rebound. Her confidence level was not good when we got here, but it has improved. She was solid in Minnesota, and when she is engaged in the game, she is a good player. She and Kiah are good interchangeable pieces. Both can rebound, and with both out there, we will get rebounds on offense and defense. Focused on winning this game. This was one you can fall down on, and we almost did. This is our job, there are no distractions. You need to put the effort every time out. We were a bit lethargic, and fortunately, our second unit got it done.” - NY Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer
Liberty player quotes on the “Black Lives Matter” movement and tragedy in Dallas:
“Me, personally, I don’t think you can play basketball and not voice your opinion. This is not something new for us, just happy we are unified in general.” Swin Cash
“I think having this platform allows us to engage in conversation.” Carolyn Swords
“Our team is in unique position. We come from different backgrounds. We have foreign players trying to understand what is happening in our nation.” -Swin Cash
“Just because it says Black Lives Matter, it does not mean all lives do not matter. We put Dallas5 because we mourn the loss of the five police who were killed in a peaceful protest. We are grateful for their contributions and mourn them.” Kiah Stokes
“You guys are just as powerful. You can choose what to write about. You have the power to do so. I had a fourth-grade teacher that said do something to read about or something to write about. You write about celebrities as Justin Bieber or a movement as this.” - Tina Charles
“We emphasize all lives matter, but want to draw attention to black lives. Too many black lives are lost each day to senseless killing.” Tanisha Wright