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Liberty wins first game, beats Washington Mystics, 74-66

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New York Liberty v Washington Mystics Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Finally!

Amanda Zahui B. scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Kia Nurse scored 17 points as the New York Liberty gave head coach Walt Hopkins his first career win with a 74-66 victory over the Washington Mystics Friday night.

Liberty players laid in wait for the coach to enter his “wubble” locker room in Bradenton, Florida. It wasn’t quite Gatorade, but the sentiment was the same. After five losses, not to mention the loss of overall No. 1 pick, Sabrina Ionescu to an ankle sprain, everyone had a right to celebrate ... and they did.

Afterwards, a slightly drenched Hopkins spoke about how cool he thought the celebration was while Layshia Clarendon and Kia Nurse talked about how they had adjusted after five straight losses.

The Liberty (1-5) shot their way out of the winless column with 12 3-pointers as Zahui B, the Liberty’s center, went 4-of-9 from beyond the arc while Clarendon shot 4-of-5 from distance. Clarendon also finished with 14 points.

Zahui B.’s 3 with 4:45 before halftime ended a 14-7 run that gave New York its first double-digit lead at 32-21. Emma Meesseman made back-to-back 3’s to get Washington (3-2) within 35-31 with 63 seconds left before halftime but the Mystics never got closer.

Aerial Powers led Washington with 20 points, Meesseman 17 and Myisha Hines-Allen 12.

No word yet on Ionescu who traveled to New York this week for consultations after suffering a grade 3 sprain, the most severe. Word is that the Oregon product will miss at least a month.

It was the first time that Joe Tsai, owner of the Nets, Liberty and Nets Gaming Crew, had all of his teams win on the same night with the Nets and the Nets GC clinching playoff spots.

On Saturday morning, the Liberty announced they had signed Paris Kea, a 5’9” guard who last played for the Indiana Fever.