The fight goes on. The New York Liberty received another awesome challenge from the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night at Barclays Center. And unlike Sunday’s game one loss, the home team had more than enough juice to get them to the finish line. The Liberty came away with a critical win to even this best of five WNBA semifinals series at one. Now the series shifts to Uncasville.
For a little more on Game two, check me out on the Gotta Get Up podcast!
Where to follow the game
ESPN2 is the place to be. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET.
No Han Xu.
No Brionna Jones. Natisha Hiedeman only played 19 minutes as she threw up during the game. She should be good to go tonight. Dijonai Carrington didn’t play on Tuesday. She’s not listed on the injury report, but has been bothered by an injured right foot in recent weeks. That’s something to keep an eye on.
The rebounding battle will tell the tale of this one. The Sun won it in Game One while the Liberty won it in game two. That success starts with Jonquel Jones. JJ has been excellent on both sides of the ball and been someone the team has counted on to defend Alyssa Thomas. JJ and Breanna Stewart have had the AT matchup, and they’ve done an awesome job so far. Their length, size, and athleticism have made it difficult for Thomas to find scoring on the inside.
Stewart’s offense isn’t there yet, but her defense has joined the party and in game two, she got the matchup with DeWanna Bonner. DB is the Sun’s best scorer and someone who has a penchant for making big baskets.
In the playoffs, you ride your starters a bit more since you have so much less margin for error. You have to trust that your best players are able to go for as long as necessary in order to win. The Liberty bench played only 12 minutes as Sandy Brondello rode her starters to the finish line. Throughout the year, the Liberty have been very intentional about making sure the starters had the chemistry and repetitions needed to be comfortable with each other. That comfort is why they were able to seamlessly transition into zone defense on the fly on Tuesday.
The Sun were down two key contributors as Hiedeman was under the weather and Carrington was a DNP. As a result, Stephanie White was essentially down to a six player rotation. Thomas and Bonner play complete games, so whoever can be the third player to step up will be critical. The Sun will need Rebecca Allen to avoid foul trouble at all costs and trust her to provide some offensive punch.
Courtney Vandersloot isn’t asked to do much scoring, but she can be trusted to make big baskets when need be. Sloot scored 14 of her 19 points after halftime as she was able to help open the floor up for her teammates. Sloot always finds her way to the rim with a good drive and if she is able to complement that with some jumpers, it forces the Sun into some difficult choices.
Betnijah Laney found a lot more success at the rim, and that opened things up for her from three as she made a career high five from downtown. Laney’s presence and excellence on both sides of the ball have created a world of new possibilities for the team. On a bunch of possessions, you could see Laney playing quarterback and directing her teammates to where they needed to be in the zone.
Player to watch: Tiffany Hayes
It’s never a great day at the office when your opponent says “You can’t guard me!” That’s where the Liberty found themselves as Tip Hayes tied her playoff career high with 30 points. She did with a combination of drives to the rim and big time three pointers. The Liberty talked about not relying on their zone defense as much going into this game, and their work in defending Hayes will go a long way in helping their man-to-man defense.
Sabrina Ionescu could miss 100 three pointers in a row. You still have to account for her from three point range as she’s one of the best shooters the game has ever seen. Sab was able to use that threat to find driving lanes and finish at the rim. The Liberty will need her to continue attacking the basket and creating pressure that way. On the other side, as long as she plays within the scheme and gives maximum effort, she’ll be fine.
From the Vault
We are officially in Fall. You know the vibes
More reading: Swish Appeal, The Strickland, The Local W, New York Daily News, New York Post, The Athletic. Fansided, Just Women’s Sports, SI All Knicks, Winsidr, Her Hoop Stats, CBS Sports, and The Next
- How Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu became a deadly sharpshooter - Andrew Crane - New York Post
- Liberty, Sun both feeling good with WNBA semifinal series tied 1-1 - Brian Heyman - Newsday