Swin Cash scored a team-high 16 points and Tina Charles finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, for another double-double, to lead the New York Liberty to a gritty 83-76 win over the Connecticut Sun, Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The Liberty came into this game looking to rebound from a tough road loss, Friday night, against the Minnesota Lynx. They turned the ball over 15 times in the loss. It was the 13th time this season the Liberty lost the turnover battle and the sixth time it has lost when doing so.
New York, with only two more games remaining until the Olympic break, needed a win to get back on track.
After a shaky start, the Liberty closed out the first quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 21-15 lead over the Sun.
The Liberty’s problems with taking care of the basketball,however, reared it’s head again. Connecticut scored 14 unanswered, in the second quarter, to take a 30-24 lead.
Eight of New York’s 13 first half turnovers came in the second quarter. The Sun, making sure to capitalize, scored 12 points off those eight turnovers.
Jasmine Thomas knocked down a buzzer-beating jumper to give the Sun a 38-36 lead at halftime.
“We’re tired,” Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer said afterwards about his team’s sloppy play in the second quarter. “We didn’t have the energy tonight necessary to give a solid game. We just weren’t executing and we let them back in the game. They got some momentum and that turned into a lead.”
New York, in the second half, managed to take better care of the basketball which produced a better result for them on the scoreboard.
Thomas’ driving layup, with 5:32 left in the third quarter, gave the Sun a 51-44 lead. The Liberty countered with nine unanswered, capped off by a Tina Charles hook shot, to take back the lead.
The Liberty’s bench stepped up again, this time at the start of the fourth quarter. Brittany Boyd’s driving layup, along with the converted and one, gave New York a 61-53 lead with 8:45 left.
Connecticut, behind big baskets from Chiney Ogwumike, Thomas, and Shekinna Stricklen, went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead, 66-65.
The Liberty, however, would find a way to make one last push to put the Sun away. Cash, with 38.8 seconds left, knocked down a fadeaway jumper to help seal the win for New York.
Ogwumike finished with a game-high 18 points, for the Sun. Thomas added 16 points.
New York improves to 17-7, tops in the WNBA Eastern Conference. Connecticut falls to 6-16 on the season.
The Olympic break is quickly approaching, all signs are pointing towards some much-needed rest for the Liberty.
The Liberty close out the first half of the season with a road game, Wednesday morning, against the Washington Mystics. They will come back to The Garden for a Thursday morning matchup against the Indiana Fever.
“Our schedule’s been very brutal over the last month,” Laimbeer said. “To our players’ credit, we’ve weathered it so far, we’d really like to get these next two games. That would put us in a great position as far as seeding is concerned.”