To understand the competitive nature of NY Liberty first-year Head Coach Katie Smith, the speech she gave to her team after the third quarter against the Connecticut Sun was a true example. That is, besides the fact that she will be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September, as one of the greatest woman basketball players of all time.
On Thursday, June 7, the Liberty was leading the first place team in the WNBA, the Connecticut Sun by a score of 54-41. But they were outscored in the third quarter 27-17.
The Liberty lead the entire game from 7:04 in the first quarter but their disastrous third quarter left the game resting on two free throws by guard Bria Hartley, while winning 86-84 with 5.8 seconds left in the game. Hartley made the first free throw but missed the second leaving the Sun in transition to move the ball up the court.
Quickly Sun’s guard Jasmine Thomas dished a pass to forward Shekinna Stricklen who drained a three-point shot at the final buzzer. Stricklen’s winning shot sucked the wind out of the excited crowd at the Westchester County Center and gave the Liberty an 88-86, heartbreak loss.
“We are a good basketball team but we have to execute and be disciplined in running our offense and be disciplined on the other end on defense and rebounding,” commented Smith. “Yes, the last shot, but there are a lot of things that add up to that and if we do half of those little things, get a couple more rebounds, then the game is different in the end,” said Smith.
Nonetheless, on Sunday, the Liberty responded to Smith’s call and handed a heartbreak loss to their next opponent, the Indiana Fever, 78-75, in another thrilling game at the Westchester County Center.
The Liberty turned the table and executed their own winning three-point shot, compliments of forward Marrisa Coleman, against her former team the Fever, with 17 seconds left on the clock. Furthermore, with seven seconds remaining as Fever’s Tiffany Mitchell tried a 25-footer from behind the arc, it was Hartley’s staunch defense that forced the miss.
Liberty guard Sugar Rodgers is returning to form after missing three games. She sparked the Ladies of Liberty against the Fever, while converting on five-of nine three-pointers. Rodgers ended the game with a team-high 16 points. The Liberty shot 54 % from behind the arc, 13-for 24, in the game.
The Liberty is presently 3-4 on the season. Their win against the Fever on Sunday was their second victory in their new home the Westchester County Center. The Ladies of Liberty have created a thrilling and entertaining atmosphere on Route 119 in the County Center.
Of course we understand the financial implications that brought the Liberty to our home turf. Nonetheless, the loss for Madison Square Garden and New York City at this time seems to be a gain for the Westchester County Center and White Plains.
As Liberty legend Kym Hampton relayed at the Outdoor Farmer’s Market on May 23, as the Ladies of Liberty greeted fans in their new home White Plains, “We just have to do more to support the WNBA, hands down. I would rather have a team playing in New York, than not have a team. I am so grateful to be here,” said Hampton.
NY Liberty single-game tickets for their 2018 season at the Westchester County Center start at $18 and can be purchased at the County Center Box Office, at NYLiberty.com and at all Ticketmaster outlets and by logging onto Ticketmaster.com/NYLiberty.