Brooklyn, NY—-When the New York Liberty gets Natasha Howard going early, good things usually happens for the Libs. They found her early and got the result they desperately needed.
Howard poured 23 points and grabbed 12 boards to help the New York Liberty upend the Phoenix Mercury 89-69 on Sunday at the Barclays in front of an announced crowd of 6,443.
At the end of the contest, the Liberty finished on 49.3% (35-71) shooting from the field, 46.2% (12-26) from downtown, and 77.8% (7-9) at the free throw line.
Sabrina Ionescu scored 10 points, 16 assists, and eight rebounds for the Liberty. Her assist total equaled the WNBA record for a game in the regular season, matching Ticha Penicheiro (twice), Courtney Vandersloot, and Sue Bird. Vandersloot set the all-time record of 18 for Chicago in the 2020 playoffs against the Indiana Fever.
New York scored the first seven points of the game and extended the advantage to 35-27 at the break.
The Liberty led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter on a deep 3-pointer by Rebecca Allen before Phoenix was able to get within seven points late in the period. The Liberty put the game away early in the fourth quarter.
Allen chipped in 17 points and Crystal Dangerfield also had a season-high 17 for the NYL (11-18), who stayed within the hunt for one of the final playoff spots with seven games remaining in the season. The Liberty will play all of those remaining games against teams that NY are chasing in the standings.
Phoenix (13-17) got 21 points from Sophie Cunningham.
Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi, who have been playing well before the All-Star break, had 13 and 12 points respectively and were a combined 8 for 30 from the court. Diggins also had 11 assists.
Five Liberty players scored in double figures in tonight’s game (Howard, Dangerfield, Allen, Ionescu, Dolson).
The New York Liberty will host the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday, August 2 at 7 p.m. ET.