The New York Liberty are one for three since returning to home court at Barclays Center after the Olympic break. The team opened with an exciting 83–79 win over the reigning WNBA Champions, the Seattle Storm, last Wednesday, but the Storm came back with a fierce game to defeat the Liberty 99–83 on Friday.
Sunday afternoon’s game was played without spectators or media in attendance due to Tropical Storm Henri. The game was close, but the Los Angeles Sparks prevailed 86–83. Making the defeat even harder, Sami Whitcomb, one of the most consistent standout Liberty players this season, suffered a sprained left ankle.
“We didn’t trust each other,” said Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins of how the team lost momentum in the second half. “We got beat off the dribble. Weakside help wasn’t there. We gave up offensive rebounds.”
Despite a rough shooting game, Betnijah Laney contributed 10 points, nine assists, two steals and four rebounds. “Betnijah is always unselfish and always does what’s asked of her and always does what’s best for her teammates,” said Hopkins.
The other players were unquestionably upset at seeing Whitcomb go down with an injury. “Sami is obviously a big part of her team, so I hope she gets better soon,” said Rebecca Allen, who had 15 points, four assists and three rebounds.
In response to Hopkins’ comment about lack of trust, Allen responded, “Trust comes in so many ways. If we look at the game, I think there’s moments where we need to step up, especially in that fourth quarter where we take the game and make it ours… I think there are moments where we have to be stronger. That’s mentally, that’s physically.”
Sabrina Ionescu, who had 12 points, six assists and four rebounds, said the Liberty needed to adjust to the physicality of the game and that they wouldn’t get many calls. “We adjusted to that a little bit too late,” said Ionescu.
Natasha Howard, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds, said the team needs to focus on the little things as it prepares for two games against the Phoenix Mercury this week and then heads out on a road trip for four of the last five games of regular season. “Especially, in the fourth quarter…every moment counts,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure we do what we do playing against Phoenix.”
Unfortunately, the Liberty’s Ring of Honor induction ceremony for Crystal Robinson was postponed.