Brooklyn, NY—-When the New York Liberty get Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart going early at the same time, good things usually happens for the Liberty. They ran Jones off of Stewart and that action paid heavy dividends for NYL early in the half.
Stewart scored 43 points and grabbed 12 boards to help the New York Liberty (12-4) beat the Phoenix Mercury (3-13) 99-95 on Wednesday at the Barclays in front of an announced crowd of 7,151.
The Libs jumped out to a 25-11 lead and controlled the pace of the game immediately. Breanna Stewart lead the way in the first quarter with 11 points and 4 rebounds. The Liberty drew more plays for Jones early— she responded and chipped in 11 points in the half.
“I’m glad she is on our team, she is very skillful and she does a lot of things right. She will do anything to make her teammates better and win.” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said of Stewart.
At the break, the Liberty shot 46.9% (15-39) from the field, 50% (6-12) from downtown, and 89.5% (17-19) at the free throw line. Stewart lead the Libs at the half with 19 points and they took a 53-46 lead into the break.
Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot were equally effective on the court with Ionescu scoring 6 points and Vandersloot dishing out 4 assists in that frame.
Diana Taurasi drained three long 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Mercury from getting blown out of the Barclays Center.
After the break, the Liberty tightened their defense around the perimeter forcing the Mercury to take tough shots. The Libs raced out to a 69-49 forcing Mercury head coach Nikki Blue to call an immediate timeout to regroup.
Phoenix wouldn’t not go away quietly cut the lead down to four points a few times and even had a one point lead with under a minute to play. But the New York Liberty has number 30 on their team and that is the difference.
Stewart scored 16 of the Libs’ final 18 points.
The Liberty got one last stop on a block in the paint and Stewart sealed the game by hitting one of two free throws with 3.7 ticks on the clock.
The Mercury got 23 points from Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner chipped in 21.
The Liberty finished on 49.2% (32-65) shooting from the court, 44% (11-25) from downtown, and 85.7% (24-28) at the free throw line.
The New York Liberty will play on Saturday against the Seattle Storm, July 8th for a 2:00 P.M. start time.