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New York- The New York Liberty (6-3) wins their fourth in a row by beating the Seattle Storm (5-4) 96-84.
The New York Liberty came into this game riding a three game winning streak. They were not only looking continue that streak but also avenge an earlier loss to the Seattle Storm. The Storm have been struggling of late, losing two of their last three games.
New York raced out to an 11-2 lead, spearheaded by stifling defense. After the teams traded baskets, Seattle’s forward Breanna Stewart and guard Sue Bird got it going by scoring seven points each to keep the Storm within reach.
New York got a spark off the bench from Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe. She provided energy scoring six points in the quarter, including an acrobatic tip in at the end of the first quarter. “I know every game I have to come off the bench and bring energy, rebound hard and run the floor,” stated Raincock–Ekunwe
New York led 28-21 at the end of first quarter. There was only one turnover in the quarter between both teams.
The Liberty opened the second quarter on a 8-3 run for it’s biggest lead of the game, 36-24.
Seattle would no go away. They chipped away at the lead with some tough defense of their own. Also sparked by Bird and Stewart once again, they added crucial back-to-back three pointers to help cut the lead to 43-40 at the end of the half.
New York were led by Tina Charles who had 13 points & nine rebounds, Shavonte Zellous chipped in with seven points.
The Storm were led by Stewart’s 14 points and seven rebounds with Bird scoring 13 points and dishing out four assists.
Both teams battled in the third as the intensity picked up. Stewart was able to make her presence felt again as she hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at the 6:12 mark.
Neither team could take control. With 2:13 left in the quarter, the score was tied at 61 all on a Liberty free throw by Raincock-Ekunwe. A late push by the Storm gave them a 66-65 lead after three quarters.
With 7:33 remaining in the fourth, Seattle’s Stewart picked up her fifth foul with New York clinging to a 72-68 lead. Over the next three minutes, the Storm would continue fight despite Stewart on the bench and tie the game 76-76.
Stewart returned to the game for a quick stint as she fouled out in 30 seconds with New York leading 80-76.
A quick 8-3 run led by Seattle’s Jewell Loyd gave them the lead. That’s when the Liberty’s Rodgers took over the game.
After a steal by Zellous at the 2:15 mark, Rodgers lead a break dishing to Bria Hartley for a layup and the lead (85-84) which they would not relinquish.
With 1:13 to go, an offensive rebound and put back by Kiah Stokes pushes the lead to 87-84. A steal by Rodgers who assisted on Zellous’ layup pushes the lead to five (89-84) with 50 seconds left.
On the ensuing inbound play, Rodgers gets another steal and was fouled with 43.7 seconds remaining. She connected on both free throws to extend the lead 91-84. Rodgers would put the game away hitting three of four free throws down the stretch.
“They were focusing more on Tina and not me and I was able to do what was needed of me. Not just offense but on defense getting stops,” stated Rodgers.
Seattle was led by Stewart’s 23 points and 10 rebounds, Bird had 21 points and 10 assists and Loyd chipped in with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists. Up next for the Storm is at home against Atlanta Dream.
A balanced attack by the Liberty made it difficult for Seattle to stop them. Charles had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Rodgers also scored 21 points, five assists and four steals, Zellous contributed 16 points while Raincock-Ekunwe and Hartley chipped in the 10 points each.
Up next for the Liberty is a road game at the Connecticut Sun.