New York Liberty: 3 stars from Wednesday’s win vs. Seattle

The Bank of New York was open late on Wednesday night, as Betnijah Laney’s jumper won it for the New York Liberty.

Betnijah Laney cashed a valuable check at the Bank of New York on Wednesday night.

The 2021 WNBA All-Star’s fourth quarter jumper banked home with 17.6 seconds left, breaking the New York Liberty’s tie with the defending champion Seattle Storm. It was the last of Laney’s 17 team-high points on the night, an honor she shared with Bec Allen off the bench, and the Liberty earned an 83-79 victory at Barclays Center. The Liberty (11-12) overcame a diamond performance from Seattle Jewell Loyd, who tallied a career-best 35 points over the first three quarters. Wednesday was a comeback effort for the Liberty, who trailed by as many as 15 and wiped out a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

New York and Seattle (16-7) will meet again in Brooklyn on Friday night (7 p.m. ET, YES).

ESM has three game balls to bestow from a crucial win for the Liberty…

Allen struggled in her first go-around since coming back from representing Australia in the Tokyo Olympics but showed off an electrifying souvenir on Wednesday. Leading the way off the bench for an eight-woman rotation for New York, Allen sank three huge triples in the fourth carter, breaking double figures for the first time since June 20. Allen shot 5-of-9 from the field, including 5-of-6 from a Land Down Under alone…OK, they weren’t that far, but they still paved the for the Liberty’s win.

3rd Star: Bec Allen

17 points, 6 rebounds

2nd Star: Betnijah Laney

17 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds

Laney didn’t reach her customary 20 points but emerged with something far more valuable: a win. The Liberty’s All-Star was a woman of many talents on Wednesday night, falling respectfully short of a triple-double. If the Liberty are able to clinch a playoff spot…and, perhaps more importantly, host their first playoff game since 2017…Laney’s shot will go down as one of the symbolic turning points in the team’s ongoing “hybrid rebuild”. The win loses a quantum of luster knowing that league legends Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart didn’t play, but a win over the defending champs in spite of one of the better shooters having a career night…all while the team’s face of the future provides the heroics…could be long remembered in Liberty land.

1st Star: DiDi Richards

9 points, 2 assists

Richards’ numbers were relatively pedestrian but Wednesday set the stage for an incredible showcase. Having been held scoreless since June 24, the Liberty’s second-round pick sank all three of her attempts to set an infantile career-high. Richards, known for her defense at Baylor, also came huge on the other end, holding Loyd scoreless over the final ten minutes. Her most notable contributions to the team, the endless energy seen through her infectious smile and unrelenting tenacity, will probably never be measured by any box score metric. But Richards’ activities…diving for loose balls, attacking the paint, and a new sense of fearless shooting…could help make her case to stick around for the Liberty’s long run.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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