Brooklyn, NY—The little Olympic break is what the New York Liberty needed to revamped their game. A must win for them.
The Libs team holding on to a No. 7 seed in the playoffs. They managed to slow the high power Seattle Storm down to pull off an 83-79 win at the Barclays Center on Wednesday night.
It didn’t look good for the New York Liberty (11-12) trailing by 10 points going into the fourth before rallying behind Rebecca Allen, who had nine of her 17 points in that frame. Allen’s third 3-pointer of the quarter made it a two-point game with 1:38 left.
This game was a great one to capitalize on. Seattle (16-7) was out Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, both given rest days for load management — Stewy to spend more time with her newborn baby. Being down two of their best players meant that the Libs had to play their best brand of basketball to beat the Storm. The two are expected back when the teams play again on Friday.
Storm’s Natasha Howard came down the court and tied the game at 79, the Liberty then got a huge stop against Katie Lou Samuelson on the other end and Laney took a dribble from the wing and banked a lucky shot just inside the 3-point line to beat the shot clock.
“Time was ticking and it had to go up. I did not call bank,” Laney said with a grim. “I felt it was going straight in. I will take it anyway.”
New York Liberty got the win, thanks to a fourth-quarter rally and amped up defense.
Trailing by one at the break, Jewell Loyd put on a shooting clinic. She scored 17 of the team’s 19 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter to give Seattle a 58-49 lead. She hit jumpers from every area on the hardwood, making seven of her first eight shot attempts in the frame.
By the time the quarter was over, Loyd outscored New York 21-20 and the Storm led 72-62. After scoring the final five points of the third quarter, the Liberty scored 10 of the first 12 points in the fourth to get back in the contest.
The victory ruined a stellar effort by Loyd, who scored 21 of her 35 points in the third quarter for the Storm. The 35 points matched her career best.
In the fourth, Howard got the rebound off Loyd’s missed layup and pushed the ball out to Sabrina Ionescu in transition. Ionescu hit an open to Betnijah Laney out by the Liberty’s 25th anniversary logo with four seconds left on the shot clock (20 on the game clock). Laney drove and pulled up at the top of the key to hit a two-point shot at the buzzer. The Barclays Center crowd erupted out of their seats
“I wanted to make sure I was in position..if [Sabrina] wanted to pass to me, that I was just available for that,” Laney explained of the shot after the game. “Then, you know, time was ticking and it had to go up.
In the final eight ticks on the clock, DiDi Richards closed off the lane from Loyd trying to tie the score up again but Loyd turned the ball over to Laney. Sami Whitcomb sealed the victory after making two shots from the foul line.
“I think we all knew how big a win this was for us,” Ionescu said. “I think honestly just the growth of our team, as well. I think we’re just continuing to learn to play together, learn what is helping us win games, what we’re doing to lose games and how it’s affected us through this long season.
The Libs have one more game against Seattle on Friday. They’ll meet again the final game of the season on Sept. 2 in Seattle.