Brooklyn, NY—After losing to the Chicago Sky 83-50 Wednesday night, the Liberty knew they had a lot of things to clean up for the Indiana Fever game.
The Liberty looked a little lethargic in the transition play. They managed to slow down Victoria Vivians in the second half but they couldn’t cool off Indiana (2-2) Kelsey Mitchell, who poured in 22 points to down the New York Liberty 92-86 at the Barclays Center in OT Saturday night in front of the announced attendance of 3,289.
Sabrina Ionescu had 31 points and seven assists for the game but it was a little too late for the Liberty (1-2) in the extra frame.
Ionescu is starting to exhibit more leadership on the court and was on fire in the first half, she was (6-10) from the hardwood with 16 points going into the break— put on a shooting clinic in the second but the Liberty did not contest the perimeter shots well in the extra frame.
Even though the Liberty gave up twenty points in the paint, they manage to hang in there to tie the game at 41 at halftime.
Indiana shot 40 percent (8-20) from the field which helped them stay close in the first half with the Liberty.
“We just continued to go to the actions that worked for us, whether it was Betnijah Laney coming off screens, using the pick and roll, making extra passes, we were using drag screens. We were just trying to find the matchups that we wanted, the plays that we wanted to execute to give us the best chance at winning. Liberty coach Brondello said.
The Liberty finished on 36.2% (29-80) shooting from the court, 40.0% (10-25) from downtown, and 85.7% (18-21) at the charity stripe line.
Indiana had a hot third quarter, outscoring NYL 17-7. Three Fever players were in double figures (Victoria Vivians, Kelsey Mitchell, and Smith), while Ionescu was the only Liberty player in double digits with 19 points. Heading into the last quarter, the Fever looked to close out the game, leading 58-48.
The Liberty began the fourth period on a 21-11 run to knot the game up, 69 all. The Fever got the back to five with 1:17 left, but the NY began trimming at the deficit. Ionescu, who scored 10 points in the quarter, made a three-pointer with 14.4 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game up again, 76 all.
“Our rebounding saved us a lot tonight,” said Indiana head coach Marianne Stanley. Her team outrebounded the Liberty on the boards 57-33, setting a new franchise single-game record, breaking the old mark of 50 (2009, vs. the Detroit Shock).
Fever guard Danielle Robinson, who just returned from playing from overseas had no time to rest before reporting to Indiana, got things popping in overtime with a long three. Smith, the energetic rookie, followed up with a putback layup. Ionescu kept coming and hit a three-pointer with one minute left in overtime to tie the game up again. Another tie was in the store before the Fever could end the game on a 4-0 run in the last 25 seconds for the win.
“We wanted to be much more aggressive to start the game, and I thought we were. I thought our energy level from the opening tip was what it should be all the time. We’ve had trouble starting games the last few times out, and it just wasn’t up to par. Some of it is just youthful inexperience, not understanding what this level of play is all about. I mean, this was a war out here tonight. It was a very, very physical game. And we just made a decision game day to be much more aggressive at the point of attack, on pick and rolls, and it helped us.” Coach Stanley said.
Mitchell led Indiana with 24 points. Vivians chipped in 20 points, and Robinson finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Fever return home to host the Atlanta Dream for a pair of home games on Sunday and Tuesday. The Liberty stay home to play the Dallas Wings on Sunday.