The young, undermanned New York Liberty were no match for the Seattle Storm, who won their ninth in a row.
The best news for the New York Liberty that emerged from Tuesday’s late show with the Seattle Storm? There are no more meetings with the Seattle Storm left on the 2020 schedule.
Seattle, leaders of the WNBA’s bubble proceedings, dominated Tuesday night’s showdown, crushing the Liberty by an 105-64 final as New York reached the midway point of their 22-game season.
“The main takeaway from tonight was that we really didn’t make the simple play,” head coach Walt Hopkins said afterward. “We didn’t drive and kick. We over-penetrated and their pressure, with the sucking in really bothered us. It’s a heck of a team, but we did not execute nearly like we needed to.”
The Liberty (1-10) were able to keep relative pace with the Storm in the first quarter. They fell behind 13-1 to start off, but were eventually able to balance things out to a 27-16 lead after the first ten minutes. But a dominant second quarter, in the form of a 34-12 onslaught, put the game out of hand in a hurry. Jewell Loyd was the leader behind Seattle’s 61-28 halftime lead, pacing all shooters with 14 points in the first half. 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart had 10 in support.
The Storm (11-1) had six players reach double figures overall, paced by former New Yorker Epiphanny Prince, who had 16 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Fellow reserve Sami Whitcomb was also on that list with 14.
New York actually wound up winning the final quarter by a 22-21 margin. The evening’s brightest silver lining may well have been the performance of Kia Nurse.
Nurse, a 2019 All-Star, opened the game with a triple in the first half, but a cutthroat Seattle defense denied her opportunities to get into a rhythm. Stepping into an otherwise all-rookie lineup, Nurse tallied 12 points over the final four minutes of the game, giving her a game-best 21 on the night. Her 6-of-12 performance from the field was by far her best outing of the season. She had spoken earlier in the day of attempting to defeat her early-season struggles through meditation. The treatment appeared to pay off in the final stages.
Hopkins later revealed that Nurse asked to be reinserted to the game despite its one-sided nature.
“At that point, it was just that you could go down fighting or you could go down not fighting. I knew that I had a lot of energy and that I could play as hard as I could,” Nurse said of her decision. “I know it’s tough, especially as a rookie, to be on the court at that time and try to find something, something that works. I told (assistant coach Dustin Gray) that I wanted to go back in, I wanted to help (the rookies) out. I think, for me, it was just about being able to continue to impact the game. Tonight, it was trying to play as hard as possible.”
“The one thing I love about this team from the beginning is how hard we fight, and that’s to the last buzzer.”
Elsewhere for the Liberty, Jazmine Jones scored 10 points, reaching double-figures for the fourth straight game. Paris Kea also made her New York debut, scoring four points in the fourth quarter.
New York returns to action on Tuesday night, taking on the Chicago Sky (7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go/CBSSN).
Geoff Magliochetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags