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Liberty lose third straight to Sun as Betnijah Laney’s streak ends

New York Liberty v Connecticut Sun Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

After going a surprising 5-1 in the early going of the WNBA season, the Liberty lost their third straight game, 85-64, to the league-leading Connecticut Sun at the Mohegan Sun. It was the Liberty’s worst loss of the season. They now head into a week long break before returning to action for a four-game West Coast swing starting June 13.

Jonquel Jones, the Sun’s All-Star big, finished with a career-high 31 points, dominating the smaller Liberty underneath. She shot 12-of-16 overall and grabbed 13 rebounds.

“We felt this was a statement game,” Jones said post-game. “We wanted to kind of go out there and just show the rest of the WNBA that we’re here and we’re making moves.”

The Liberty have been hurt by the loss of their big off-season acquisition, Natasha Howard, who’s out four-to-six weeks with an MCL strain. Already undersized, New York will have to adjust further without Howard.

In post-game comments, Liberty players noted how they have to overcome other teams’ physicality...

The game was also notable because the 8-2 Sun ended Betnijah Laney’s eight-game streak of scoring 20 points or more to start a season. Laney scored only eight points on 4-of-12 shooting in 31 minutes Laney finishes one game shy of the record.

The Sun’s defense was, in fact, so overwhelming that only one Liberty player, Rebecca Allen, came up with a double-digit performance. Allen finished with 14 on 5-of-10 shooting. Sabrina Ionescu had another disappointing performance, scoring only five points, three rebounds and five assists in just 19 minutes. Coach Walt Hopkins indicated after the Liberty loss to the Las Vegas Aces that “something is not right with his second-year star.”

“I don’t know if it’s mobility, I don’t know if it’s pain, but it’s pretty clear to me, movement-wise, that something’s not right,” said Hopkins. “It could just be sore. As simple as it being sore and it really hurts. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I’m seeing.”

Michaela Onyenwere, the WNBA Rookie of the Month, had only seven points, slowed by early foul trouble.

The Liberty made a game of it early. After being down, 24-19, at the end of the first, the Liberty had a four-point lead with four minutes to go. Connecticut quickly recovered, and by halftime, were back in command. In the second half, it was all Sun as they outscored the Liberty, 42-27. Time and again, the Sun’s two bigs, Jonquel and Bri Jones, got deep inside against the undersized Liberty.

Here’s the game highlights...

The game started at 7:00 p.m. putting it in conflict with the Nets-Bucks series Game 1.

A small number of fans expressed anger at the Sun who knelt during the National Anthem, yelling at them to stand up. The New York Liberty were not on the court at the time.