The Minnesota Lynx dealt a sweep to former assistant coach Walt Hopkins’ New York Liberty through a one-sided second half.
It was deja vu all over again in the worst way for the New York Liberty on Saturday night in the Bradenton bubble. A rematch with the Minnesota Lynx yielded more brutality in the second half, as the Liberty were outscored 52-31 over the final 20 minutes in a 94-64 loss. Minnesota was the former dwelling of Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins.
New York (1-9) was previously outscored 27-6 in the third quarter of a 92-66 loss to the Lynx on August 5. This time around, reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier led the way with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while current contender Crystal Dangerfield earned 22 on 9-of-12 shooting. Five Minnesotans in total earned double-figures.
The Liberty got off to a decent start in the first quarter. Leaonna Odom earning eight points in the first quarter, and New York built a small 10-9 lead by the midway mark. Minnesota, however, embarked on a 16-10 run to end the frame and had relative control from that point on. A manageable nine-point deficit at halftime quickly flew out of hand when the Lynx (7-3) sank six of their first seven field goals to open the latter half. Minnesota shot just over 50 percent on the evening (36-of-71) and converted 6-of-13 three-point attempts. In contrast, the Liberty shot only 30 percent (20-of-66) from the field.
The New York silver linings came in the form of rookie Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook. Formerly teammates at Louisville, Jones was the only New Yorker in double figures with 13 points while Shook tied her infantile career-best in scoring with nine. Jones reached double-figures for the third straight game through physical play that went on until the final second had ticked off the clock. The final pick of the first round is averaging 16 points over the trio, which began with a career-high 24 points against Los Angeles on Tuesday.
“Toward the end of the game, we knew we needed to play hard, finish the game, continue to fight,” Jones said. “We just got to get better together in practice, translate it over to the game. Youth has nothing to do with it. We just need to come out, execute, do the things we need to do to win.”
The Liberty will hit the midway point of their bubble exploits on Tuesday night when they take on the Seattle Storm (10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go). It will be the second of two meetings with the Storm, who opened the bubble project with the Liberty on July 25. Seattle took home an 87-71 decision. Layshia Clarendon had 20 points in the game to lead the Liberty while Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points and six rebounds in her debut. Seattle currently tops the WNBA standings with a 9-1 record.
“We need to be tougher. We need to start our games with some heart,” Hopkins said of the upcoming second half. “I say that would be a really good start for us. I think we lost four quarters tonight.”
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags