TIna Charles (263071)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

The final cuts have been made (for now) and the 2019 WNBA season, the league’s 23rd, is in play. Unfortunately, the New York Liberty opened with a one-point 80–81 loss to the Indiana Fever when rookie post player Teaira McCowan hit a buzzer-beater.

“We came out and played hard,” said Liberty forward/center Tina Charles, who scored 32 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the loss. “We jumped on them, but then we died down a bit. The turnovers hurt us—I think they had 16 points off turnovers. … [Teaira] McCowan did a really good job of getting offensive rebounds. Bria Hartley gave us a great spark and Reshanda Gray played great, and it’s good to see her back in the WNBA.”

UConn alum/Long Island native Hartley, now in her third season with the Liberty, arrived in training camp from overseas only days before the regular season home opener. She scored seven points, pulled down four rebounds and had four assists coming off the bench. A college star at University of California, Gray played two seasons in the WNBA, most of it with the Atlanta Dream. She has not been on a roster the past two years, but was invited to Liberty training camp and made the team.

She had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Rookie Asia Durr had eight points, one rebound and two assists. “It’s a process,” said Durr. “It’s my first year and everyone goes through that process. This is a change now. … It’s a long road and you have to take it step-by-step and stay present.”

Liberty head coach Katie Smith is staying positive, but will address the many turnovers. “Lots of little stuff, but overall letting them know how tough this league is and that most of these games will come down to the wire,” said Smith.

The WNBA season kicked off with a new leader named for the league. Cathy Engelbert is the first person to hold the title of commissioner. All previous league heads had the title president. Currently the CEO of Deloitte, Engelbert officially joins the WNBA July 17.

The Liberty has a rematch with the Fever Saturday night in Indiana. The team returns to the Westchester County Center for a school day game Tuesday, when New York takes on the Los Angeles Sparks.