While the New York Liberty did get its first win of the season, a 74–66 victory over the Washington Mystics on Aug. 7, the team lost a 78–76 heartbreaker to the Las Vegas Aces on Aug. 9. The Liberty had led throughout most of the game—by as much as 12 points—but could not sustain the lead to the conclusion.
While understandably disappointed after the game, Liberty coach Walt Hopkins said he also encouraged the players to recognize their accomplishments in playing such a tight game with the Aces. “This is an extremely talented, well coached team and we played them to the very end,” said Hopkins, who was displeased with some of the calls. “I told the team we have so much to be proud of.”
The Aces are coached by Bill Laimbeer, who led the Detroit Shock to three WNBA titles. Laimbeer coached the Liberty from 2013–2017 and the Aces roster includes several former Liberty players: Carolyn Swords, Lindsay Allen and Sugar Rodgers.
Amanda Zahui B had an outstanding game with 20 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Unfortunately, she got into foul trouble and Hopkins had her sit out most of the third quarter. Hopkins said the team couldn’t afford not to have her in the fourth quarter, so she had to come out.
Needless to say, Zahui B was discouraged by the loss, but upbeat about the team’s potential. Both she and Kiah Stokes praised Liberty newbie Joyner Holmes, who contributed 11 points. She said her message to the rookies is “keep pushing, keep building.”
“The first thing we said when we walked into the locker room is we have really grown and gotten better from our first game,” said Zahui B. “We stayed together and we’ve just got to keep on building. We’re a young team and people don’t believe in us. We’ve got to earn everything.”
The team will be without top draft pick Sabrina Ionescu for the foreseeable future. Ionescu left the wubble to travel to New York and see a specialist for her ankle injury. When she returns to Florida, she’ll need to self-quarantine for a period of time before rejoining the team. Post player Kylee Shook is temporarily out with an injury. In the interim, the Liberty signed guard Paris Kea. The Liberty is in action tonight versus the Indiana Fever and Saturday against the Minnesota Lynx.