Liberty hold on to defeat the Wings

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New York proved up to the task Friday night, as they edged out the Dallas Wings to secure their third victory of the season.

Tina Charles posted a career best 36 points on the night. She led the Liberty in points per quarter in all but one 10 minute stretch.  Friday was Charles’ fourth consecutive 20-point game, and a double-double (10 rebounds). “It’s a win we needed and [Charles] willed us down the stretch,”  said head coach Bill Laimbeer after the game.

However, Laimbeer quickly moved on to lament the play of three other players. With Kia Vaughn and second leading scorer Epiphany Price returning to national team duty for EuroBasket, Shavonte Zellous carried the flame for the Liberty. “We asked more of her,” said Laimbeer.  “We said we needed her to step up.”  Zellous was an undeniable vocal leader, often giving direction in floor huddles, in addition to getting it done on her statline. She knocked down 27 points in the 93-89 win, and added 8 rebounds. From the beginning of the game, Zellous took the mantle of the team.  However, the most improved performances of the night came from a pair of former Huskies.

Huskies show heart

Bria Hartley dropped 10 points in her first start of the season. In her first five games with the Liberty, she scored only two points.  On Friday, Hartley looked the most comfortable she’s been since being traded to New York – as well as returning from maternity leave.  Of Hartley, Laimbeer said, “She’s worked very hard in practice, both individually and with the team.”  After the Los Angeles game on Tuesday, the team focused on getting the ball to their post players earlier in the offensive set.  Hartley showed the capability to feed her teammates on the block, notching 4 assists.

Another huge improvement for the Liberty was offensive rebounds.  The team outscored the Wings in second chance point 19-8. Kiah Stokes grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds for the Liberty. Stokes told us that the team focused on each player doing what they do best.  For her, that meant defense.  “I talked to Tina [Charles] earlier this week and she said,’We need you … get in the paint, post up, rebound.  Be an option.'” Stokes took the chat to heart, adding another career-high of 13 points for the night. She also swatted away two shots, a part of her game the home crowd is especially fond of.

Rookie in the Big Apple

With Vaughn and Prince out of the lineup, Lindsay Allen was re-signed to the Liberty and saw roughly 18 minutes in her WNBA debut.  The Notre Dame guard did not add any points, but her impact on the game was noticeable.  Allen was active on defense, and seemed comfortable managing the floor.  She added two assist to New York’s team tally (20).  “Lindsay Allen’s a really instinctive passer In the preseason, Laimbeer liked what he saw from Allen, and noted she was a tough final cut. “I told her when she left that she is a WNBA player, and it’s just a matter of, what team.” As fate would have it, she has made her way back onto the New York roster, for now. When Prince and Vaughn return, there will be other decisions to make.

The Liberty host the third game in a five-game homestand tomorrow against the Phoenix Mercury.  The team signed guard Chelsea Hopkins from San Diego State University.  Hopkins returns to the program after making the 2015 preseason roster.  She has spent the past two season with Maccabi Ramat in Israel.


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