Brooklyn, NY—If the NY Liberty wants to extend their season into the playoffs, they have to find a way to defend the post area against bigs such as Liz Cambage.
A’ja Wilson and teammate Cambage dominated the Liberty’s smaller lineup all game long, combining for 42 points. Jackie Young chipped in 16 points and Dearica Hamby added 13 off the bench for the Las Vegas Aces (6-3).
Betnijah Laney tried to keep NY in the game. Laney got the Liberty within one point of tying the game against the Aces in the fourth quarter. But they came up just a little short.
After a timeout and a stern chewing out by their head coach Bill Laimbeer, the Aces took over. Wilson hit a basket and then went to the line for two more points.
Wilson poured in 30 points with 13 boards and the Aces used a late run to beat New York 94-82 at the Barclays Center.
Vegas led 80-79 with 3:59 left in the fourth after New York came from a 19-point first half deficit.
Laney hit a jumper in the middle of the lane with 8.3 seconds left in the game, the game well out of reach as the Aces scored 14 of 15 to seal it.
“Obviously credit to the Aces because they played to their identity better than we did tonight,” Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins said after the game.
Laney scored 23 points to lead NY (5-3). Laney has had at least 20 points in all eight games to start the season. Rebecca Allen came off the bench to score 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
The calls overall seemed to favor the Vegas, something that Hopkins kind a mention to being the difference in the contest. New York ended the game with nine free throw attempts compared to 29 for Las Vegas.
“It would be a smart move for me to not comment on the refs right now,” Hopkins said after the game, still obviously heated about the game’s officiating when asked about it. “I’ll tell you that the thing I was repeating the entire game was the free throw discrepancy. I won’t say what I said to the referee, I will say that that free throw discrepancy is something.”
Despite a slow game offensively, Sabrina Ionescu hit one of the biggest shots of the game, a trey to bring the Libs within six points with 9:05 left in the contest. Laney hit a jumper with four minutes left, bringing New York to within one.
But A’ja Wilson scored four straight points for an 84-80 lead, and Riquna Williams hit a long 3-pointer with 2:23 left in the contest, stretching the lead to eight points, 88-80. The 26-foot jumper was Williams’ first field goal of the game. She would hit another 3-pointer to finish with eight points.
Rebecca Allen came in the game sizzling and change the momentum of the game for the Liberty.
“You just got to be ready at any moment,” Allen said. “You never know how the defense is gonna play and it’s just being shot ready and making the right reads.”
This was the Liberty’s second straight loss and third overall on the season. They take their 5-3 record to face their Eastern Conference foe, the Sun, in Connecticut on Saturday.