After withstanding a 17-game losing streak that stretched back to last July, the Liberty have now won two straight and starting to hit their stride. Joe Tsai’s team beat the Minnesota Lynx, 75-69, at the Westchester County Center on Wednesday night.
Going into the game, the Lynx were seen as one of the WNBA’s best teams, sporting a 4-2 record. The Liberty was 1-4 and wanting to make everyone believe their win over the Aces this past weekend wasn’t a fluke.
The Liberty’s backcourt led the way. Kia Nurse scored 26 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, while rookie Asia Durr, the second overall pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, added a career-high 20.
’’Total team effort with a balanced scoring effort and getting key stops defensively allowed us to get the win,’’ Nurse, a member of Team Canada, told Doug Feinberg of AP. ‘’We’re continuing to find ways to win, playing with a lot of passion and that will allow you to go far in this league. We just need to continue to close it out.’’
Nurse was cheered on by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who had his picture taken with the shooting guard as well as former Knick Kyle O’Quinn.
It was the third straight solid game for the Liberty. In their loss to the Mystics last Saturday, their 17th straight and fourth loss of the year, New York had played a tight game and were within four going into the fourth before losing by nine. The Liberty beat the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday, also at home.
In Wednesday night’s game, the Liberty had 10-point cushion going into the fourth. Minnesota got within three early in the quarter, but Nurse hit a three-pointer to launch a 10-4 run. The Lynx got it to within four late, but Durr, the Louisville product, split two defenders and scored with 20 seconds left. Final score: 75-69.
’’I was just trying to make a play. The shot clock was going down,’’ Durr said. ‘’I didn’t want to turn the ball over. Make a move and try to score.’’
Durr said coach Katie Smith was pushing to be more aggressive, use her athleticism. The result was her WNBA debut as a primary scorer. Durr matched her previous career-high of 12 points before halftime.
The Liberty’s 6’5” center Amanda Zahui B. had another strong defensive effort for the Liberty with two blocks and two steals to go along with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds.
’’What she’s been able to do on the defensive end, having the energy, she’s been the glue for us this year,’’ said Tina Charles of her teammate. Charles finished with 12 points.
AP’s Feinberg noted that the Liberty contributed to a bit of WNBA’s history before the game. Wednesday night marked the first time in WNBA history that two Chinese players competed against each other in a regular-season game.
New York’s Han Xu and Minnesota’s Shao Ting chatted before the game. Han was drafted 14th by New York this year while Shao was signed as a free agent in April. The pair played together for China on the national team that finished sixth at the FIBA World Cup last fall. The pair didn’t get on the court.
Liberty forward Rebecca Allen broke the third metacarpal bone in her right hand in practice on Tuesday. She’s out at least three weeks. Allen was wearing a soft cast.
The Liberty head out to Las Vegas next for a rematch with the Aces on Friday night the start of a two-game trip.
Wednesday’s game was one of 17 the YES Network is broadcasting this season. Attendance was a season-low 1,181.