Two steps forward, two steps back has been the story of the New York Liberty all season long. In an already tight race for the top three spots in the Eastern Conference, the Liberty are still looking to catch their stride and end the win-loss tango they’ve been dancing for the past week.
On Tuesday night, the Liberty donned pink uniforms to celebrate breast health awareness, as well as to induct Rebecca Lobo into the “Ring of Honor.” Playing before an audience that included breast cancer survivors, the Liberty defeated the Seattle Storm 58-56.
For Leilani Mitchell, Breast Health Awareness Night has always held special meaning. Two years ago, Mitchell’s mother died of breast cancer, and while it’s said that time heals all wounds, the fourth-year point guard is dealing with the loss for the rest of her life. “[Tonight’s game] touches a lot of people’s lives, me included, and I know there are a lot of people out there affected by it,” Mitchell said. “So we hold it near and dear to our hearts.”
As life goes on, so does basketball, and on this night, the Liberty faced off against the defending WNBA champions, the Storm, looking to gain some ground in the standings after a disappointing 91-81 loss to the Washington Mystics in the previous game. In a match where both teams looked to seize control from the tip, it was the Liberty who set the tone in the first quarter with their stifling defense.
Momentum briefly swung in favor of the Storm midway through the second quarter, but the Liberty kept them at bay and held a three-point lead at halftime. Long Island native Sue Bird cut the margin to one at the start of the second half, and the Storm tied the game at 38 on a 3-pointer from Katie Smith late in the third quarter.
Both teams went on to trade baskets early in the final frame, but neither team was able to get a firm grasp on a lead. With the game going down to the wire, it was the Liberty that delivered the knockout punch for the win.
The Liberty are on the road this weekend, visiting the Mystics for a rematch on Friday night, then they will visit the Indiana Fever on Saturday night. The team returns to the Prudential Center on Tuesday, Aug. 16.