New York Liberty: Three stars from Saturday’s loss at Dallas

The New York Liberty’s playoff dreams were dealt a major blow in their penultimate road game of the season in Dallas.

Thrilling September matchups between New York and Dallas are no longer limited to the gridiron. These, in fact, bear greater importance on their respective league’s playoff picture.

Alas for the metropolitans, however, another loss built on development has dealt a sizable blow to their postseason aspirations.

The Dallas Wings took advantage of a 21-10 advantage in the fourth quarter, paced by a combined 34 points off the bench from Marina Mabrey and Satou Sabally, to earn a narrow 77-76 victory over the New York Liberty on Saturday night in the Lone Star State. Dallas (13-17) clinched its first WNBA playoff berth since 2018, leaving only one spot up for grabs as the end of the regular season approaches.

The Liberty (11-19) are one of three teams fighting for that eighth and final seed with two games left on their regular season schedule. That pair starts Wednesday against Connecticut (7 p.m. ET, CBSSN) and concludes with a matchup against their fellow fighters from Washington on Friday. New York has lost control of the final seeds through a 1-8 stretch in the post-Olympic slate.

ESM has three stars from the latest defeat…

3rd Star: Sabrina Ionescu

18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists

In the midst of some brutal defeats, Ionescu is posting Ionescu-esque numbers again. She has reached double figures in scoring in all nine post-Olympic games to date, averaging 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds and assists in the first nine games back. Head coach Walt Hopkins was quick to point out the silver lining of Ionescu’s return to form, calling her “strides” a major pillar of the long-term picture.

2nd Star: Natasha Howard

16 points, 11 rebounds

Though some turnovers at the worst possible team clouded the metropolitan progress, Howard earned her third double-double in the post-Olympic slate in the midst of defeat. She’s shooting 60 percent of the floor (15-of-25) over her past two contests.

 

1st Star: Betnijah Laney

19 points, 6 assists 

If anyone knows about the proverbial “process” of WNBA success, it’s Laney. The Rutgers alumna endured spent four seasons in professional purgatory before a breakout campaign in the Bradenton bubble netted her last season’s Most Improved Player award. Laney has kept the momentum up in her return to the tri-state area, topping the Liberty in scoring. She took on a verbal role in Saturday’s postgame comments, citing “simple” issues that lead to losses amidst the progress away from the scoreboard.

“We’re not really dwelling on it, but learning from it…We see it, we know it, but we just got to get over the hump of just the little things that have just been holding us back,” Laney said of the losing streak and the hidden silver linings. “Once we really focus in and are able to control those things we’ll be in good shape, we just have to marry that with the progress that we’ve been making…We’ve had progress, so we keep that, going into these games, we just tweak the things that have been holding us back. I think that the progress in the detail that we’ve been making these past few games flow will hopefully show up and give us the results that we want.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Monday’s win vs. Dallas

The New York Liberty won consecutive games for the first time since May, beating the Dallas Wings in a Monday thriller.

Thrilling athletic contests between New York and Dallas are no longer limited to Sunday afternoons and evenings in the fall.

Sabrina Ionescu earned a double-double on a record-setting evening, as the New York Liberty earned a 99-96 win over the Dallas Wings on Monday night at Barclays Center. The Liberty (10-9) earned consecutive wins for the first time since May 23-24 and set a franchise record with 15 three-pointers in a single game.

Five players from the Liberty reached double figures, paced by 26 from Sami Whitcomb and 18 more from Betnijah Laney. Jazmine Jones would add 17 more off the bench. Dallas (9-10) enjoyed a game-high 23 off the bench from Isabelle Harrison. New York has won each of the first two matchups and will face the Wings one last time on September 11.

ESM has three game balls to bestow from the victory…

3rd Star: Reshanda Gray

11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals 

Gray once again made her prescience felt in the interior and came up big as the game reached its dying stages, once again proving herself more than worthy of her newly attained full-season deal.

As Dallas inched their way back into the game, Gray helped preserve the Liberty lead, first earning a crucial rebound after a missed Harrison free throw that soon became Laney’s record-tying triple. After an Ionescu miss on the other end, Gray wrenched the rebound away from a Dallas pursuer to put it back in and preserve the seven-point advantage. When Dallas had one more shot after Jones missed a free throw, Gray kept the ball in the air to round out the clock and avoid a foul.

2nd Star: Sabrina Ionescu

13 points (5-of-9 FG), 12 assists

Ionescu’s rediscovered shooting touch couldn’t have come at a better time for New York. The Liberty are now 5-0 when she shoots at least 50 percent from the floor, and she has now done so in consecutive games. Going up against former Oregon teammate Satou Sabally, Ionescu earned her first double-double since May 23, uniting with fellow Pac-12 alumna Gray once again for some big baskets.

1st Star: Sami Whitcomb

26 points (10-of-16 FG), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals

Whitcomb, whom many have credited as being the heart and soul of this Liberty roster…as well as its biggest All-Star snub…did it all on Monday night. She helped the Liberty get off to a strong start with 15 first half points and finished in with some crucial daggers, including the triple that not only broke the team record but gave the Liberty a sizable six-point lead with just under a minute remaining.

Though Whitcomb is best known for her outside endeavors…she was one triple short of tying the single-game record she shares with five others…her rebounding and interior work has come up huge for a Liberty squad that’s still treading water while Natasha Howard heals. Whitcomb has averaged over seven rebounds a game over her last four games and Monday marked the seventh time in the last eight games where she had at least six.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags