It takes time to build foundation. When you’re trying to forge a new path, it takes time to find out who you are, what you hope to accomplish, and how to get to where you want to go. As you build, you can learn some new things about yourself along the way as well.
On Friday night, the New York Liberty were in the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Mystics. The Mystics have been one of the best teams in the WNBA so far in 2022 as their 7-3 record coming into the night put them in the top third of the standings. In what turned out to be a great, back-and-forth affair, the Liberty came away with an impressive 74-70 win. The victory was the team’s first road win of the season.
Down three points late, the Liberty dialed up a play that sprung Rebecca Allen free to tie the game up at 68.
Eagle eyed observers will notice that Stef Dolson x Bec Allen play looked pretty similar to something the Liberty did late against the Seattle Storm on May 26
Aside from the gorgeous play design, it provided evidence that chemistry is forming on this team. The Liberty didn’t get much of a training camp (or a preseason game for that matter) and with the injuries to key players, they’ve had to do everything on the fly. Having Dolson create offense and make good decisions when she’s in the high post will allow for some easier scoring opportunities for this squad.
Down two, the Mystics had a chance to tie or win the game. Here’s how the final possession went down
On the evening, the Libs held Washington to a .400/.238/.643 shooting split. Coach Sandy Brondello spoke on the defensive effort tonight:
“They’re trusting each other, and sometimes on defense that’s what you have to do. It’s knowing your personnel. We had some breakdowns, but we’re competing and it’s hard work. It’s 10 percent skill, 90 percent you gotta really wanna do it and compete, and I thought we did a really good job of that and that’s what it came down to. They made that run in the fourth quarter, it’s more just pick and roll and bullying down hill and getting to the foul line to be quite honest. But for the most part, we were quite good and just buying in to the system and doing it to the best of your ability, but being able to make changes when we needed to and it was a good team effort.”
In memory of
Tonight, the Mystics wore orange in honor of Dr. Preston Phillips. Dr. Phillips was murdered by a shooter in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Wednesday along with three other people at a Tulsa clinic. Dr. Phillips worked as the team doctor for the Tulsa Shock (now Dallas Wings). In the pregame, Sandy Brondello was asked about Wear Orange and Dr. Phillips. Here’s what she said:
“We spoke about it earlier in the week, and something has to change. It’s just really sad. Everyday, you don’t even wanna open the Internet just to read about all the killings. This is someone we knew from Tulsa. Something needs to be changed, so I think it’s not just with our organization. I think every organization should get behind it, and try and make the change. It’s mind boggling that anyone can get a gun in this country, and it’s quite sad, and how do we protect the kids and everyone to be quite honest. It’s sad. It makes me emotional just talking about it, the unnecessary deaths that happened.”
Washington DC sports teams combined to make a donation to Everytown for Gun Safety. Here’s hoping our local, state, and federal legislators fix this issue and fast. Our lives are at stake.
The Nets and Liberty’s own team physician tweeted out his own grief for Dr. Phillips who he knew professionally...
One of my colleagues gunned down. I have no words.I wish I could say that I am surprised.— Riley J Williams III MD (@rileywilliamsMD) June 2, 2022
Doctoring is an increasingly perilous vocation. https://t.co/vJVFDzji0z
Dial 3 for Sabrina!
On the night, Sabrina Ionescu led all scorers with 24 points and tied a season high in three pointers made with five, including this one from long distance
For a Liberty team that has been searching for success from deep (31.1 percent from three point range, second worst in the W this season), having Ionescu It was evident in the game against the Indiana Fever on Wednesday night, but Ionescu has been getting downhill more over the past few games, and tonight took seven free throws, making all seven. Brondello attributed Sabrina’s great week to her improved health and the addition of Crystal Dangerfield into the starting five. With Dangerfield there to handle the full court presses teams throw at the Liberty, Ionescu can save a little energy and focus more on attacking mismatches on defense. With Ionescu getting to the line and playing as aggressively as she has been, the Liberty offense has the potential to become a lot better than what it has been so far this season.
It ain’t how you start, it’s how you finish. Natasha Howard had a tough assignment on her hands tonight as she was the primary defender on Mystics star and former MVP, Elena Delle Donne. EDD had a good game, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 29 minutes. Howard and the Liberty threw a lot of looks at her and most importantly, kept her off of the free throw line. EDD is a career 93.7 percent shooter from the foul line and had a 50/40/90 season in her last full campaign back in 2019. Howard, Allen, Dolson and the rest of the Liberty contested her shots and prevented her from getting a shot at the rim when the Mystics had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds.
In the fourth quarter, Howard scored 11 points and made the game winning three point play with the game in the balance:
She went 7-20 from the field, but that doesn’t matter when you make winning plays when the game is on the line. In the postgame, Howard spoke about how she was able to keep at it even as she was having an off night from the field:
“Just focusing on defense. Just making sure I did my assignment on the defensive end. I wasn’t really concerned about the offense. I knew that my offense would come sooner or later, and it did towards the end. Even though I didn’t have a good start, it ain’t how I start, it’s how I finish and I picked it up for my team and we came up with the win.”
The Liberty are back home to begin a two game set against the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday afternoon. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. ET