New York Liberty: 3 stars from Friday’s loss vs. Seattle

A respectable rematch effort against the reloaded defending champs wasn’t enough for the New York Liberty to steal a sweep.

The New York Liberty needed an impossible perfect game to topple a Seattle Storm team welcoming back Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird from load management. They nearly got in the first half before the visitors from the Pacific Northwest did what they did best.

Jewell Loyd followed up a career-best in scoring on Wednesday night with 29 points, while Stewart put up a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Through their efforts, Seattle turned a 47-46 halftime deficit into a 99-83 win on Friday night at Barclays Center. The Liberty (11-13) previously earned an 83-79 win over the defending champion Storm on Thursday night, erasing a 15-point deficit en route to victory. They’ll visit Seattle (18-6) on September 2 at Angel of the Winds Arena.

Samit Whitcomb (26 points) and Sabrina Ionescu (16) led the way in scoring for the Liberty. New York will return to action on Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Sparks (2 p.m. ET, YES). Liberty legend Crystal Robinson, the team’s all-time leader in successful three-pointers, will enter the Liberty’s Ring of Honor in a pregame ceremony.

ESM has three stars from Friday’s game in Brooklyn…

3rd Star: Bec Allen

13 points, 2 rebounds

Allen reached double-figures in scoring for the first time since June. A triple in the second half allowed her to join a vaunted New York club, as it was the 100th three-pointer in a Liberty career that began in 2015. She becomes the 16th player in franchise history to reach such a milestone.

2nd Star: Natasha Howard

11 points, 13 rebounds

Forced into a three-games-in-six-days stretch after returning from injury, Howard’s rust was apparent through a 4-of-19 shooting night from the field. Nevertheless, she was able to earn her first double-double as a member of the Liberty and first overall since last season’s bubble deflated. Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins was pleased that Howard was able to contribute despite her shots failing to fall.

“She didn’t shoot it well, but she did a ton of things well defensively,” Hopkins said. “Her footwork’s a little rusty. She’s rusty around the rim. She just needs to get her balance, her feet back. She’s going to be just fine.”

1st Star: Sami Whitcomb

26 points, 8 assists

Whitcomb might as well have still been in Seattle when she gave the Liberty the lead with a deep triple, one that brought a surprisingly bipartisan Barclays Center crowd to its feet. It was part of a strong return to form for the three-point contest bronze medalist, as Whitcomb’s five triples were her most since she had six in a July win over Dallas.

“Splitting, I think, was probably our mentality,” Whitcomb, the two-time champion with the Storm said. The loss hurts, but it doesn’t hurt (as much) if we learn something from it…I did like our looks. We just weren’t hitting them as  we were in that first half.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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