New York Liberty: Three stars from Saturday’s win at Atlanta

A career-best in scoring for Sami Whitcomb paced the New York Liberty to a win in the first half of an Atlanta doubleheader.

A career-best evening for Sami Whitcomb paced the New York Liberty to a healthy 101-78 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Saturday night at Gateway Center Arena at College Park. The win snaps a two-game losing streak and pushes the Liberty back to the .500 mark (8-8). It’s also the first part of a doubleheader in Georgia, as New York and Atlanta (5-9) will face off again on Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN3).

ESM hands out game balls from the most one-sided victory of the Walt Hopkins era…

3rd Star: Michaela Onyenwere

18 points, 2 rebounds

After recovering to have a strong second half in Thursday’s Chicago debacle, Onyenwere kept the good vibes rolling with a 6-of-8 shooting performance from the field. The rookie out of UCLA has become the Liberty’s most potent interior threat in the absence of the injured Natasha Howard and flashed her physicality with eight visits to the foul line, sinking all but one.

2nd Star: Betnijah Laney

28 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds

Laney returned to her customary 20-point showing, but it didn’t come easy. The former Atlanta rep took a hard hit in the second half on what became a flagrant foul, which could’ve been a crushing blow to a team that’s already missing Howard and Rebecca Allen. But much like her hockey brothers and sisters, Laney didn’t miss a shift, instead returning to post her best scoring output since sinking 30 on opening night. She wasn’t the only one returning to scoring landmarks. Sabrina Ionescu put up 10 points in her return to the starting lineup, her first time in double digits since May 24.

1st Star: Sami Whitcomb

28 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists

Whitcomb was strong right from the get-go, making a mark on both her personal and the team’s record books. She tied her personal best in scoring (originally 22 points in a 2017 game against the Liberty) before the first half even let out, breaking it at one of the most crucial points of the game. As the Dream slowly inched their way back in, cutting the New York lead down to four, a crucial, deep three from Whitcomb ignited a 37-20 run to end the game. Whitcomb’s seven successful triples tied a Liberty record last reached by Amanda Zahui B in 2019.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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