Monday, August 28, 2017

Liberty 92, Sky 62: Tempo-Free Recap

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

NEW YORK -- The Liberty, winners of seven straight, entertained the Chicago Sky for a Sunday matinee. The last time they were in New York, Chicago pinned a loss on the Liberty. That was back in mid-July, and the last Liberty home loss to date.

Sunday afternoon was decidedly different.

The Liberty came out strong and never looked back. In July, Chicago was the aggressor. This time around, it was the host New York squad, en route to a convincing 92-62 victory over the Sky to improve to 20-12, while Chicago fell to 12-19.   

The Liberty staked out a 15-7 lead, with Tina Charles leading the way. The standout forward became the WNBA’s 20th all-time leading scorer in these opening minutes. Charles scored seven points on an assortment of moves, first a catch from ten feet out saw her turn and go hard to the hoop. A baseline out of bounds play later left her one-on-one, overpowering her opponent before draining a pair of three-pointers. Chicago, as they did in their last appearance here, opted more for a perimeter game. By halftime, the Liberty owned a 46-29 lead. They held Chicago to just six field goals in the second quarter, only two of which came inside the paint.

NOTES: Any attempt by the Sky to establish an inside game was stopped by the physicality and strength of Charles and Kiah Stokes inside. Stefanie Dolson of the Sky had some success in the paint. For the most part, Dolson was a high post screener and outside shooter.

Normally, Shavonte Zellous is a key secondary scorer for the Liberty. However, she only had two points in the first half. Still, the Liberty led by 17. In very simple terms, the Liberty has a lot more than just one or two options at their disposal.

As much as there is discussed about Bria Hartley’s influence on the Liberty in recent weeks, another former UConn notable cannot be overlooked. Kiah Stokes, of late, has given an inside presence on both ends of the floor, not to mention supplying that proverbial energy the minute she checks into a game.  

In a 61-possession game through three quarters, the Liberty enjoyed a 118-82 edge in offensive efficiency.

Possessions: 83
Offensive efficiency: New York 111, Chicago 75

Effective field goal percentage: New York 46, Chicago 45
Free throw rate: New York 20, Chicago 23
Offensive rebounding rate: New York 44, Chicago 7
Turnover rate: New York 10, Chicago 27

Leading Scorers/Player Efficiency
New York: Tina Charles, 22 points/26
Chicago: Stefanie Dolson, 22 points/22

MISCELLANEOUS: Kiah Stokes led all rebounders with 10, with six of those on the offensive end. Chicago, by comparison, had two on the offensive glass for the entire game. The Sky also committed 23 turnovers for a 27 percent rate, while managing a microscopic seven percent offensive rebounding rate. The Liberty shared the ball with 25 assists on their 36 field goals, good enough for a 69 percent rate. Sugar Rodgers led the way with six helpers. The Sky had only six second half field goals in the paint, three on penetrations by Kahleah Cooper, a Rutgers product with a 17-point performance.

The Liberty put four in double figures as Hartley (11), Epiphanny Prince (11) and Stokes (10) joined Charles. Allie Quigley (two points) and Courtney Vandersloot (six) combined did not reach double figures for Chicago. Credit the Liberty defense on that one.

Final Thoughts
“You hope for a game where you get a chance to give your bench a chance to get minutes. It was a good win, a solid foundation for players working hard every day in practice. We knew Chicago played well against Connecticut and beat us here. This is about us, what we do. Rebounds and play defense, we can win. We clinched the fourth seed today. One is in front of us, but out of our control.” - Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer

“Hey, it’s what we do. Defend and rebound.” - Sugar Rodgers, when told Chicago was held to two offensive rebounds for the game.

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