The Liberty battled throughout the game, heading into the final 10 minutes of play with the score tied at 52, before (again) collapsing in the fourth. Indiana outscored New York 33-23 to steal the win. With the win, the Fever improved to 6-15 while the Liberty dropped to 2-18.
The Liberty were without Layshia Clarendon (back) and Sabrina Ionescu, who is not with the team, rehabbing a left ankle sprain. With two games left in the season, it would be virtually impossible for Ionescu, the overall No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft, to return to Bradenton, quarantine and play. Ionescu was injured in the third game and although she escaped the possibility of surgery, she will finish her rookie season rehabbing rather than playing.
New York, despite suffering another tough loss, had positive takeaways.
Paris Kea, who was signed to replace Ionescu, has taken advantage of her new opportunity as a starter in recent games, finished with a career-high 21 points, two assists, and one rebound in 31 minutes against her former team.
Kia Nurse continued her strong play, this time as a starter, scoring 18 points to go along with four rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes of play. In addition, Nurse hit a career milestone, scoring over 1,000 points for her career.
New York finished the loss shooting 30-of-76 (39.5 percent) from the field and 6-of-26 (23.1 percent) from deep. Their biggest lead of the game was four points.
Following Thursday’s loss, Walt Hopkins spoke about how his team has a mentality to win despite having no playoff future. He also praised Kea for her leadership on the court and her communication.
Kea emphasized the fact that she is playing to win. The former North Carolina Tarheel is always focused on getting the win when she steps on the hardwood.
“Take it one game at a time,” Kea said. “Trying to get better. I want to win. Every night, I go with the mentality to give it all I have and all I got to win the game. That is really my mentality and how I am thinking. However I can contribute to help the put the team in a position to get the W.”
Jazmine Jones, another of the team’s seven rookies, had a season high 10 boards.
“We still have a job, which I can’t say for a lot of people in America right now. So I’m trying not to complain, but it could be better, could also be worse. But this has never happened before. It’s all a learning process for everyone, and I know the league worked really, really hard to make this happen. I’m grateful for the opportunity and the job and just that we’re able to have a season. But bubble life is tough.
“I talked to Sabrina when she went to see the doctors in New York, and I was just texting her, filling her in, just seeing how she was feeling. And she was like, “Bro, it’s so crazy. You don’t realize how isolated you are until you leave the bubble.” I was like, “Wait, what?” She’s like, “Yeah. You’re missing out on life.” I’m like, “Oh no.”
The Liberty have only two games remaining for their season, which ends Sunday. With no playoffs ahead, New York looks to disrupt the standings late.
The Liberty return to action against the Washington Mystics on Saturday at 12:00 PM ET.