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Liberty clipped by Wings at Barclays

Four-game winning streak snapped in post-All-Star letdown

July 20, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The New York Liberty will be in our nation’s capital Friday night looking to get better on defense, show more aggressiveness along the boards and do what All-Star captain Breanna Stewart referred to as all “the little things” it takes to win.

That sounds like a lot of room for improvement for a team that still boasts the best record in the Eastern Conference.

“We need to continue to do the little things. The dirty work,” Stewart insisted after Wednesday afternoon’s 98-88 loss to surging Dallas in front of a sellout crowd of 9,012 disappointed fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

“Every team in the WNBA is talented and can beat any team on any given night,” she added.

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That certainly proved true in this matinee as the Liberty (14-5), looking to complete their first five-game winning streak of the year, nose-dived in the third quarter of an otherwise back-and-forth tilt.

New York was outscored 29-16 in the third quarter by the Wings (12-9), who went on a 30-9 burst spanning the final two periods to open an 83-67 cushion with 8:40 remaining in regulation.

“They exploited us with their size,” said Liberty coach Sandy Brondello, referring to Dallas’ 12 offensive rebounds and 40-36 edge on the boards. “It’s a great test for us. We have to work out how to beat them.”

Arike Ogunbowale scored 25 points and Teaira McGowan added 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Wings, who took advantage of New York’s lack of interior size en route to their season-high fourth consecutive victory.

The Liberty are still waiting for centers Stefanie Dolson (ankle) and Han Xu (international commitment) to return to the lineup.

Dallas turned the ball over a league record-low two times while forcing 13 giveaways by New York.

“We just have to weather the storm right now,” admitted Brondello as her team prepared to hit the road against the Mystics on Friday.

Stewart scored 25 points and fellow All-Star Sabrina Ionescu, fresh off winning the WNBA’s 3-point shootout in historic fashion last Friday night, added 22 for New York, which saw a five-point second-half lead evaporate.

“It’s been building up a little bit. We have to get locked in now and learn from this,” Brondello noted. “We have to get ready to beat Washington.”

“They did a good job keeping their composure. Two turnovers is pretty incredible,” Stewart added. “It shows that we weren’t the aggressors on defense, and we need to be better.”

All-Star Sabrina Ionescu had 19 second-quarter points and not much else as the Liberty lost to Dallas in Downtown Brooklyn Wednesday. Photo by Brittany Keesling/New York Liberty

The Wings became the first team in the league to beat the two favorites to reach the WNBA Finals, New York and defending champion Dallas.

“When you have a team that has done that, the only team in the league, shows this team what they’re capable of,” Dallas coach Latrickia Trammell said. “It gives them confidence going into the next game and the one after that.”

Ionescu, who drilled her 200th career 3-pointer en route to a 5-for-11 performance from beyond the arc, had 19 points in the second quarter before going stone cold thereafter.

“We know what we have to do, whether we won or lost,” she lamented. “We got exploited tonight. We need to go into Washington with a different mentality.”

Betnijah Laney and the Liberty will try to start a new winning streak Friday night in Washington D.C. Photo by Brittany Keesling/New York Liberty

GIVE ME LIBERTY: Former Liberty forward Natasha Howard enjoyed a happy homecoming with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting against her ex-teammates. … Celebrating Camp Day at Barclays, the Liberty sold out their seating capacity for the third time this year. … At 86 career games, Ionescu is the second-fastest player in WNBA history to reach 200 3-pointers. … Betnijah Laney and Jonquel Jones each had 11 points in Wednesday’s loss. … The Liberty will open a season-high four-game homestand when they return to Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon to host Indiana.

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