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Liberty host Storm in Saturday matinee before hitting road

Minnesota Lynx v Seattle Storm Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Whew! On Wednesday night, the New York Liberty built a 20-point lead against the Phoenix Mercury and looked to be on their way to an easy victory. However, the Mercury woke up and wound up coming all the way back to take the lead. However, the Liberty turned the jets on late and came away with a hard fought 99-95 victory on Wednesday night. Following the win, they got a special visitor in the locker room...

The opponent tonight is the Seattle Storm. Seattle is looking to bounce back after a particularly rough Thursday night. They never lead and trailed by as much as 37 points as they got dominated by the Connecticut Sun.

Where to follow the game

ESPN is the place to be. We’re the only game on the marquee so the party will get started after 2:00 p.m.


No Stef Dolson. Han Xu is back, but dealing with a foot injury that’s been bothering her for a while. She’ll get some rest.

Gabby Williams is back with the team, but returning to competition. She’ll be out tonight. More on her in a second.

In memoriam

On Friday, we learned that Nikki McCray-Penson passed away at the age of 51.

McCray was a member of the groundbreaking 1996 US Women’s Basketball Team that won gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. She had a successful career as a player in the WNBA before a successful career in coaching. At practice yesterday, Sandy Brondello spoke about McCray, the time she coached her in San Antonio as well as competing her against her on USA Basketball, and offered condolences to the McCray family. A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces memorialized her former coach at the University of South Carolina

Sending love and light to all of McCray’s loved ones.

The game

New York took game one in May and game two a few days ago. These teams wrap up the season series at the ‘clays on July 25.

Gabby Williams isn’t playing tonight, but she’s back and for a while, it looked like that wasn’t going to be a possibility. On Wednesday, she was asked about her ordeal dealing with the WNBA’s prioritization rule, the French Federation giving her trouble, etc. and said:

Eek. The issue of prioritization isn’t going away any time soon, and the leagues are going to have to figure something out so everyone comes away happy and the players don’t suffer.

Prior to this game, All-Star captain Breanna Stewart will be making her selections for next week’s All-Star Game in Las Vegas. Stewie’s coming off a banner game on Wednesday as her 43 points held the Mercury at bay. Stewart is able to score from everywhere imaginab

After some early struggles and noticeably bad performances, the Liberty have evolved into the second best rebounding team in the league this season. It’s a testament to the team’s effort on that end and the coaching staff drilling into the team the importance of completing possessions and owning the boards. A lot of that improvement goes to the work of Jonquel Jones. JJ has gradually improved throughout the year as she’s gotten stronger and has helped the Liberty be the best team at protecting the rim in the W.

We’ll have to keep an eye on the Liberty bench this afternoon. They’ve been struggling in recent games, and they’ll be needed to contribute as the Liberty progress through the year. That starts with Marine Johannes. MJ has struggled some in the past few games, and the team will need her off ball wizardry to complement the rest of the roster.

Player to watch: Jewell Loyd

When your team is getting blown out, you’re not gonna be in the best of moods. As the Storm were getting obliterated by the Sun, Jewell Loyd had the following reaction

Yeah, it’s like that sometimes.

Loyd has carried the Storm all season to the tune of 25.6 points per game. Loyd has been able to score from everywhere on the court and done everything in her power to keep the Storm in the playoff race. In addition to being an awesome player on the court, she’s taken up the leadership mantle off the court and in the locker room. In a great story over at The Next, Noelle Quinn spoke to Rowan Schaberg about Loyd and what she’s asked of her this season:

“What I’ve asked for from her this year in a leadership role is to do it by example. How you show up every day, how you work, that this new team understands what it takes to be successful in this league and she’s done that at a high level. She’s coming to practice in shape, and she’s in a great space mentally, physically, and I think she’s really honed in on what it takes to perform on the court and also make sure you’re a leader off the floor.”

Seattle basketball fans are in good hands with Loyd leading the charge. For the Liberty, their job is to make Loyd’s shot attempts as difficult as possible. You almost have to pencil her in for an automatic 20 points, but if you can make her work extra hard to get her buckets and force her into extremely tough passes, then you’ve done your job as a defender.

For Sabrina Ionescu, she’ll look to put another good night on the board. On Wednesday, Sab had a solid outing with 11 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds in 32 minutes. She’s been able to find her role in the offense and has been able to make things work for her and her teammates. Seattle is allowing teams to shoot 38.7 percent from three point range, highest in the league. Ionescu is one of the league’s most accurate three point shooters and shoots them at a high volume. Could make for an interesting mix.

From the Vault

July 7th was the 22nd anniversary of Aaliyah’s self-titled album. With that in mind, let’s throw on an all time jam

More reading: Swish Appeal, The Strickland, The Local W, New York Daily News, Fansided, Just Women’s Sports, SI All Knicks, Winsidr, Her Hoop Stats, CBS Sports, and The Next