Liberty suffer fourth straight loss to Sun
Connecticut uses final quarter to extend New York's slump
Down by three points with 10 minutes to go, the New York Liberty found themselves lost in Connecticut when it mattered most.
The Liberty were outscored 29-13 in the fourth quarter Tuesday afternoon en route to suffering their fourth consecutive defeat, an 82-63 stomping at the hands of the host Sun in front of 6,288 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“We’re figuring it out. We have to keep weathering the storm, believing,” said New York point guard Sabrina Ionescu after finishing with a team-high 13 points, albeit on 6-of-18 shooting, five rebounds and four assists.
While the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Month and All-Star struggled from the floor, the rest of the Liberty were also miffed from short and long range.
Stefanie Dolson had 12 points and Han Xu finished with eight, but New York shot a dismal 36 percent from the field, including a 9-of-27 effort from 3-point range.
The Liberty also committed 18 turnovers and got outrebounded 39-26.
“I think they’re a good defensive team. … We didn’t shoot the ball well,” said Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello. “They got runs. Decision-making and turnovers really hurt us.”
Brionna Jones had a game-high 21 points and Alyssa Thomas added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Sun (17-9), who have won three of their last four overall and earned a split of their four-game season series with the Liberty.
Connecticut also won despite missing leading scorer Jonquel Jones due to health and safety protocols.
New York appeared primed to take advantage of her absence and end its longest skid since dropping a season-high seven in a row back in May.
But after Crystal Dangerfield hit a pair of free throws to pull the Liberty (9-16) within one, the Sun ran away for good, putting together a furious 29-8 run to open a comfortable 82-60 lead with 1:15 remaining.
“I think we go up and down in waves with our shooting,” said Dolson, who knocked down 5-of-8 attempts, including a pair from beyond the arc. “We just have to get more consistent with it.”
New York’s recent slide has dropped it into second-to-last position in the league standings, making the Liberty’s recent playoff push a distant memory.
They had won eight of 13 prior to their malaise, but must find a way to get back on track Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C, vs. the Mystics.
“Everything will fall into place when it needs to,” Ionescu insisted.
But only she and her Liberty teammates can make sure they don’t fall out of contention after sneaking into a play-in spot last season.
GIVE ME LIBERTY: Rebecca Allen recorded her 100th career blocked shot in the fourth quarter Tuesday. … After visiting the Mystics on Thursday, the Liberty will kick off a home-and-home vs. the defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky at Barclays Center on Saturday. New York will complete the two-game set in the Windy City on July 29.
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