The New York Liberty’s 92-65 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center was their fourth straight defeat following a 81-79 season opening victory over the Sun on May 7.
The start of the season was promising as the victory ended the Liberty’s nine-game losing streak against the Sun. They were led by guard Sabrina Ionescu’s 25 points, six assists and four rebounds.
“It’s huge,” said Ionescu after the game. “We’ve been putting in the work this entire off-season. All of us individually. As soon as training camp started, we had a goal in mind, a mission, and so it’s been super nice to see it all come to fruition in the first game.”
The game was also notable as it marked the return of three Liberty players: Jocelyn Willoughby, who missed all of the 2021 WNBA season due to injury; Asia Durr, who was back with the squad for the first time since 2019 after facing a long battle with COVID; and the 6-foot-10 center Han Xu from China.
Since that victory over the Sun, the Liberty have struggled, losing in Chicago to the defending champion Sky, 83-50, dropping 92-86 in overtime to the rookie-laden Indiana Fever, and falling Sunday to the Dallas Wings 82-71. The Wings were led by Arike Ogunbowale, who scored 18 of her 21 points in the second half. The Suns then avenged their loss to the Liberty with a convincing victory on Tuesday.
After the loss to the Wings, Liberty guard Betnijah Laney assessed what the team is doing to reverse their current trend. “Just trying to find things that we lacked and improve upon those. Make sure those are the focus when we’re watching film,” she said. Stefanie Dolson, who joined the Liberty this off-season after winning a championship with the Sky and an Olympics gold medal as a member of the inaugural women’s 3×3 team, offered a veteran perspective.
“There’s a lot of games left, so, honestly, we’re just going to have to learn,” said Dolson. “We have to learn what we can get better at, defensively get better at, and just keep growing as a team.”
One bright spot during the losing streak has been the play of Han Xu, who scored 10 points against both the Sky and the Wings. Liberty guard Sami Whitcomb, when asked about Han’s impact on Sunday, said, “She really injected us with a lot of energy and just a punch that we really needed when we needed it. She was tremendous in that way.
“Hopefully,” continued Whitcomb, “we can just keep making her feel comfortable out there and keep finding her when she does come in, because obviously, she’s a real threat out there for us.”
The Liberty has seven days without games to regroup and refocus. The team begins a three-game road trip next Tuesday against the Minnesota Lynx.