New York Liberty rookies Onyenwere, Richards honored by WNBA

Michaela Onyenwere and DiDi Richards’ efforts toward the New York Liberty’s playoff run were rewarded by the WNBA on Tuesday.

The WNBA named New York Liberty forward Michaela Onyenwere its official 2021 Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. Onyenwere also appeared on the league’s All-Rookie team alongside teammates DiDi Richards. Through their efforts, the Liberty reached the WNBA playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Onyenwere (pronounced On-yen-way-day) was a near-unanimous choice for the award, earning all but two of the 49 necessary votes. The lone outliers went to Richards and Aari McDonald of Atlanta.

“I’m so honored to be the 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year,” Onyenwere said in a team statement. “To say that I am blessed to be in this position would be an understatement. Since I was drafted, I’ve always said that I couldn’t have been placed in a better situation. The people, the culture, and the organization have all been second to none and my experience so far has been so fulfilling.”

Onyenwere was chosen sixth overall in last spring’s draft and was one of two New York representatives (along with Betnijah Laney) to appear in all 32 games this season. The UCLA alumna started the first 29 contests and led all WNBA freshmen in scoring (8.6 points per game) and minutes (22.5). She also ranked second in rebounds (2.9) behind Charli Collier of Dallas.

With the honor, Onyenwere becomes the first player in Liberty history to earned the league’s Rookie of the Year title. She also joins an illustrious list of players to take home all of the Rookie of the Month honors in a single season, appearing alongside Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson, and Crystal Dangerfield.

“I truly couldn’t have done this without God, my family, my teammates, my coaches, and support staff who have all had a part in my development and growth this season,” she said. “Understanding the magnitude of the legacy of New York basketball and the trailblazers who have come before me, it means that much more that I’m able to be the first in Liberty history to win the Rookie of the Year Award. I’m so grateful to be here and so excited for what’s to come.”

Richards was likewise nominated to the league’s All-Rookie squad, as she and Onyenwere become the first New York teammates to appear on the honor roll since Kiah Stokes and Brittany Boyd in 2015 (teammate Jazmine Jones also appeared on last season’s edition). The Baylor alumna was chosen 17th overall in April for her defensive prowess. Richards gained a large following as one of the most inspirational stories of the draft: she returned for her senior season at Waco after a devastating injury suffered in an accidental collision at practice left her temporarily paralyzed.

Though Richards struggled to carve out a role for herself in the early going, she became one of the Liberty’s most talked-about stars in the second half of the season thanks to newfound shooting talents. After attempting over a single three-pointer over her four years with the Bears, Richards converted 9-of-15 tries from deep over the last 10 games of the regular season. She became one of the Liberty’s most trusted reserves as the season went one and partook in all but one game in her rookie year.

As she became one of the team’s most fearless shooters, Richards was also a reliable source of energy, constantly diving for loose balls and engaging in raucous bench celebrations with Jones.

“It’s an honor to be named to this year’s All-Rookie Team alongside some amazing athletes who are the future of the WNBA,” Richards said in another team statement. “Thanks to my teammates, coaches, support staff, and my family for all of their support. I’m excited to continue working on my game this offseason and look forward to 2022.”

Joining the New York pair on the All-Rookie team are Collier, McDonald, and Dana Evans of the Chicago Sky.

The WNBA Playoffs’ semifinal round continues on Wednesday night with a pair of fourth games: Evans and the sixth-seeded Sky will look to close out an upset of top-ranked Connecticut (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) while the fifth-seed Phoenix Mercury will look to do the same against No. 2 Las Vegas in the nightcap (10 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Wednesday’s loss at Connecticut

The New York Liberty’s WNBA playoff hopes were dealt a major blow after a tough second half in Uncasville.

The New York Liberty’s playoff bid came up snake eyes at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Outscored by a 54-22 margin in the second, the Liberty dropped its eighth consecutive contest, falling by a 98-67 final to the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday. New York (11-20) will now need a win over the Washington Mystics in Friday night’s regular season finale in Brooklyn (7 p.m. ET, YES) and some help from their friends to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

The Liberty jumped out to a 16-5 lead in the early stages of the first quarter, which they won by a 24-20 advantage. However, the wheels fell off in the second half, drawing the ire of head coach Walt Hopkins.

“We gave up. I think the team gave up in the second half, they got punched me four or five times turned the ball over a few times and Connecticut showed why they’re the best team in the league and we showed why we’re having trouble closing games,” Hopkins bluntly declared in the aftermath. “We have to get tougher. You got to want it more, and we gave up.”

New York can still reach the postseason through a win on Friday, plus a further loss from Washington on Sunday afternoon and a Los Angeles Sparks defeat over their final two games.

Six players reached double-figures for Connecticut (25-6), which not only won its franchise-record 13th game in a row but also clinched the top seed in the playoffs.

ESM looks back on three silver linings from this latest defeat…

3rd Star: Sabrina Ionescu

12 points, 5 assists, 2 steals

Ionescu has reached double-figures in all ten games of the post-Olympic slate. She vowed to help the Liberty re-establish its never-say-die identity that they’ve carried and lived up to for most of the season.

“We’re going to play our heart out, regardless of whether it’s a must-win for us,” Ionescu said. “It’s about figuring out what we need to do to win, and how to finish this year on the right note.”

 

2nd Star: Michaela Onyenwere

14 points (5-of-6 FG)

Onyenwere has come off the bench over the last two Liberty games after spending most of the year in the starting lineup. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner has responded well to the new role as a second unit energizer, hitting 7-of-9 from the field in the last couple.

The UCLA alumna provided a moment of levity in the somber aftermath when she declared the only difference between her starter’s mindset and reserve mindset was her lack of a pregame dance routine.

“We didn’t respond the way we wanted to,” Onyenwere analyzed. “We know at this point we have a lot to fight for. We didn’t necessarily show that in the best way.”

1st Star: Natasha Howard

25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks

Howard continued her decent return from injury, sparking the Liberty’s hot start with 10 points in the first quarter. While Hopkins pointed out that she was one of the few New Yorkers that kept her energy going throughout the game, he did that the 18 turnovers between she and Ionescu were “unacceptable”.

“Second half, we kind of gave in,” Howard said. “We stopped doing the things we were doing in the first half…we weren’t being tough. That’s the difference…that’s what we’ve been preaching: we’ve got to be tough.”

Howard briefly left the game in the final quarter with an ankle injury that forced her to go to the locker room under the supervision of trainer Terri Acosta. She said after the game that it was merely a “tweak” and she was able to finish things off without incident.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Sunday’s loss vs. Connecticut

A one-sided third quarter doomed the New York Liberty in their last showing before the WNBA’s month-long All-Star/Olympic break.

The Connecticut Sun shined a little too bright for the New York Liberty on Sunday afternoon, particularly in the third quarter.

Paced by 17 points and 17 rebounds from Jonquel Jones, the Sun held off the pesky Liberty to the tune of an 18-9 advantage in the third quarter, allowing them to roll to a 71-54 victory at Barclays Center. Despite the loss, the Liberty (10-11) are among the league’s eight playoff teams as the WNBA embarks on a month-long hiatus to allow its players to partake in both the WNBA All-Star Game and the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Thus ends a New York odyssey that featured several changed commercials flights and hours of delays due to heavy rains brought about by Tropical Storm Elsa. Liberty owner Joe Tsai has vowed to fight the travel problems.

New York’s Betnijah Laney will appear alongside the rest of the Association’s All-Stars as they battle the United States Olympic unit on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) while Sami Whitcomb will partake in the three-point contest on that same night. In Tokyo, Rebecca Alen will represent Australia while overseas holdover Han Xu is set to appear on China’s squad. The Liberty return to action on August 15 at Minnesota (7 p.m. ET, YES/Facebook).

ESM has three game balls to send the Liberty into the break…

3rd Star: Reshanda Gray

8 points, 5 rebounds

Adding Gray for the remainder of the season could be huge for the Liberty, who have come to adore her physicality in the paint. Though Gray posted  relatively pedestrian numbers in her final pre-break showing, she set some personal history by sinking each of her two attempts from three-point range after sinking only 1-of-8 over her first four WNBA seasons.

2nd Star: Michaela Onyenwere

12 points, 4 rebounds

As one of only two New Yorkers in double figures, Onyenwere did her best to keep the Liberty in the game by getting to the foul line, hitting five of her six visits. At the break, Onyenwere is the runaway favroite for the league’s Rookie of the Year, leading all first-years in scoring (9.8 per game entering Sunday) and posting a runner-up finish in rebounding (2.9).

1st Star: Kylee Shook

16 points, 2 assists, 1 block

Shook set a new career-best in scoring for the second straight game. Thrust into the starting lineup for all but one game this season thanks to Natasha Howard’s injury, Shook’s development has been one of the most promising storylines of the first half. Alas, her development was the brightest…and perhaps only…the Liberty could’ve taken from Sunday. Taking away Shook’s 6-of-8 showing, the Liberty shot 11-of-48 (23 percent) from the field.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Tuesday’s loss at Atlanta

Courtney Williams’ late teardrop allowed the Atlanta Dream to the season series from the New York Liberty.

Courtney Williams had one more nightmare for the New York Liberty.

Another last-minute shot, a floater with 58 seconds to go, gave the Atlanta Dream the necessary points to escape with a 73-69 victory over New York (8-9) on Tuesday night at Gateway Center Arena.

Williams previously had an overtime triple that gave Atlanta a win in Brooklyn on May 29. She led the Dream (6-9) with 18 points, assisted by 14 from Crystal Bradford off the bench. Atlanta wins the season series 2-1 after splitting a back-to-back set with New York on their home court, coming back from a 23-point loss on Saturday.

3rd Star: Kylee Shook

8 points. 8 rebounds

The Liberty were befallen by a tough offensive rebounding margin, as Atlanta took advantage of second chances in the 12-7 victory. That didn’t stop Shook from continuing her fruitful tallies, as she is now averaging 10 a game over her last three.

2nd Star: Betnijah Laney

16 points, 7 assists, 1 steal

Though her former compatriots in the Peach State had the last laugh, Laney still managed to lead the Liberty in scoring once again, falling just three helpers short of a double-double.

1st Star: Michaela Onyenwere

13 points, 3 rebounds

If anyone’s going to miss playing the Atlanta Dream, it’s probably Onyenwere. She ends her first trio against Atlanta with an average of 20 points, including an infantile career-best 29 back in May. It was her early onslaught from the outside in the third quarter’s opening stages that allowed the Liberty back in the ball game. New York had hit only two from the field in the second quarter but managed to fight back thanks to Onyenwere’s offense. She and Shook likewise united to hold Elizabeth Williams to only a single point, as the Atlanta center missed all six of her attempts from the field. 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Thursday’s loss vs. Chicago

A second onslaught from the Chicago Sky doomed the New York Liberty to their fourth loss in their last six.

A garish second quarter led to the New York Liberty’s downfall on Thursday night, as a four-point deficit ballooned to 28. The Chicago Sky were paced by 18 points from Diamond DeShields and Kahleah Copper while Candace Parker earned another double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in what became a 91-68 victory over New York (7-8). Chicago has now won seven in a row, the latter two coming at Barclays Center in a back-to-back, the first segment coming on Tuesday.

ESM has three silver linings from Thursday’s loss…

3rd Star: DiDi Richards

3 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal (11 minutes)

As things became ridiculously dire for the Liberty…down a whopping 28 points after a brutal second quarter…Richards played the role of beautifier, invading the interior to generate some strong opportunities. Chalk it up to the lingering hockey season, but Richards’ impact was best demonstrated in her plus/minus. New York was a jaw-dropping +12 when she was on the floor.

2nd Star: Kylee Shook 

6 points, 11 rebounds

It was easy for Shook’s interior antics to get lost in another defeat, especially with Candace Parker making yet another MVP case in relatively stifled minutes. But Shook hauled in an infantile career-best in rebounds and held Parker and Stefanie Dolson to relatively manageable numbers. The Liberty’s true sin on Thursday was letting Chicago’s deadly outside game get going, as DeShields and Allie Quigley sank three triples each.

1st Star: Michaela Onyenwere

16 points, 6 rebounds

Onyenwere made a valiant effort to penetrate the Chicago paint in the early stages of the game, but her efforts were rewarded with futility. She shot 1-of-10 in the first half, though she managed to clean things up by (along with Bec Allen) forcing Chicago into five quick fouls over the first four minutes of the second quarter, all of which produced free throws. Onyenwere found redemption in the second half, contributing to a relative surge (New York won the second half 41-36) by shooting 4-of-7 from the field.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty: Three Stars from Saturday’s loss at Connecticut

The New York Liberty were dealt their third straight defeat in Connecticut, as they were unable to stop All-Star Jonquel Jones.

Jonquel Jones tallied a career-best 31 points for the Connecticut Sun, who rolled to an 85-64 victory over the New York Liberty on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Rebecca Allen tallied 14 points to lead the Liberty (5-4) who have now lost three in a row heading into a week-long break. The sour New York feelings further manifested with Betnijah Laney being held to eight points, ending her streak of 20-point game to open the season at eight (tied for second-longest in WNBA history).

ESM has three stars to highlight from another tough New York effort…

Third  Star: Rebecca Allen

14 pts. (5-10 FG), 2 steals, 2 rebs.

Fresh off a season-best 16 against Las Vegas on Thursday, Allen was the only New Yorker who reached double figures in scoring. Between her rediscovered shooting prowess (Saturday was the third time she reached double-figures this season) and tenacious defense that ha assisted a defense sorely missing Natasha Howard, it may be time to put Allen on the Sixth Woman of the Year Award’s shortlist.

Second Star: Michaela Onyenwere

7 pts. (3-4 FG), 4 rebs. 1 blk.

The trial by fire continues for Onyenwere, who has been forced to deal with the powerful interiors of Las Vegas and Connecticut in her first contests after winning the league’s Rookie of the Month Award. Early foul trouble presented an issue in the early going, but Onyenwere still managed to earn some respectable numbers before things got out of hand.

First Star: Jazmine Jones

8 pts, 3 assists, 3 rebs. 

The second-year pro was, alas for New York, overshadowed by Connecticut’s representative of the same surname, but Saturday was a remarkable showcase for the last pick of the 2020 draft’s first-round.

Jones had a starring role in the Bradenton bubble but the spotlight has moved with the return of Sabrina Ionescu and several newcomers. She has kept the energy rolling through energetic bench celebrations and introductions, however, and she finally got to share the power on the court in an extended showing. Contributions all over the court allowed the Liberty to stage a late run on the lead in the first half and even hold a brief lead.

The Liberty return to action on Sunday, June 13 against the Phoenix Mercury (6 p.m. ET, YES). 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty: What’s ahead (week of May 17th)

The New York Liberty look to build on their first 2-0 start since 2016 as they enter the first full week of the 2021 season.

Three days into the 2021 WNBA campaign, the New York Liberty have earned the right to check a box on their season’s to-do list.

The Liberty (2-0) matched their win total from all of the woebegone 2020 season in the Bradenton bubble, sweeping the Indiana Fever in a home-and-home set on Friday and Sunday. Sabrina Ionescu’s game-winning triple in the final seconds allowed them to earn a 90-87 win in their full-time debut at Barclays Center before they held the lead all the way through the rematch at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, a 73-65 triumph.

“It does mean something, going a whole season to get two wins versus coming out the gate the way that they did,” head coach Walt Hopkins said after Sunday’s win. “To have two wins and to come in on a back to back, for them to make the adjustments and to be able to still win on the road, it says a lot about them.”

ESM looks backward and onwards as the Liberty and the WNBA prepare to move forward on their respective 25th anniversary seasons…

Player of the Week: Betnijah Laney

Friday: 30 points (11-of-18 FG, 4-of-5 3-pt. FG), 5 rebounds
Sunday: 20 points, 4 assists

Ionescu might’ve stolen the show with her Friday heroics, but Laney was by far the most consistent shooter the Liberty had to offer. The Rutgers alumna is once again making metropolitan basketball magic, pacing the Liberty in the early going with 25 points a game (second in the league after the first three days of action). Laney is proving that the successful Most Improved Player campaign she staged in the bubble was no fluke.

“I just want to continue to get better. That’s what I’m doing, I take my craft seriously. I’m continuing to build off of last year,” Laney said on Sunday, remarking on her first two games in the New York system. “It’s a pretty free and open offense, which I think works well. For me, it’s a lot similar to the offense that I saw last year (in Atlanta). “y teammates encouraged me and they find me and allow me to, you know, get to my shots and everything.”

Number of the Week: 18

Fresh out of UCLA, Michaela Onyenwere has made an instant impact in the New York lineup. She has appeared in the Liberty’s opening five in each of her first two contests and has tallied double figures in both appearances. The 18 she had on opening night in Brooklyn set a new team record for most points in a freshman debut, breaking a three-year mark held by Kia Nurse.

They Said It

“Simply put, she’s a bucket. In the first game, she did a pull-up and I was like, she is so good. Nobody came, nobody can guard Betnijah. She’s just so versatile, and her pull-up is always on, and even if it’s not, she finds other ways to get to the basket and facilitate…It’s just so cool. She’s definitely a vet that I can look to and ask questions, tell me where I need to be…She’s hard to guard and she’s just all around just a great teammate.”Michaela Onyenwere on Betnijah Laney

“I think already having two and a half games under my belt from last season, I think that was what I needed, being able to see play against some top teams. I think that kind of gave me some confidence coming into this season and just understanding my role on this team, what we’re trying to accomplish, what I can do to help others, and what all of us can build together. So I’m definitely not taking that for granted.”-Sabrina Ionescu on how her brief time last year helped in her 2021

Standings

W L GB
1. Connecticut 2 0
2. LIBERTY 2 0
3. Dallas 1 0 0.5
4. Chicago 1 0 0.5
5. Seattle 1 0 0.5
6. Phoenix 1 1 1
7. Minnesota 0 1 1.5
8. Atlanta 0 1 1.5
9. Las Vegas 0 1 1.5
10. Washington 0 1 1.5
11. Los Angeles 0 1 1.5
12. Indiana 0 2 2

The Week Ahead

Tuesday vs. Minnesota

(7 p.m. ET, YES App/ESPN3)

The first Walt Hopkins Bowl in Brooklyn stages the head coach and assistant Shelley Patterson against their former colleague and Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve. This game will also mark Minnesota assistant coach and Hall of Famer Katie Smith’s first visit to a New York basketball arena since she was relieved of her duties as Liberty head coach after two seasons in 2019.

The Lynx (0-1) are coming off a narrow loss to Phoenix on Friday night, as Diana Taurasi’s buzzer-beater negated an 18-point showing from Aerial Powers, who made her Great Lakes debut after parts of three seasons in Washington. Minnesota (14-8 last season) swept both matchups from the Liberty last season by a combined 56-point margin.

Friday @ Washington

(7 p.m. ET, YES)

The Liberty will face off against Tina Charles for the first time since the franchise’s all-time leading scorer was dealt for picks that eventually became Jazmine Jones and Michaela Onyenwere. Washington (0-1) played their first game in DC since they clinched the 2019 championship on Saturday, falling to Chicago 70-56. They welcomed in Charles but are still without 2019 MVP Elena Delle Donne, who is recovering from back surgeries.

Last season’s pair in Bradenton was split evenly, with the Liberty earning their first win of the year on August 7. Layshia Clarendon put up 14 points and six assists in the victory.

Sunday @ Chicago

(1 p.m. ET, ESPN)

A battle between New York and Chicago will have a strong Oregon feel to it, as Eugene gamechangers Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard will do battle for the first time. A showdown with the Sky produced the other of the Liberty’s Ionescu-free wins last season, as Clarendon put in 17 points, ending with the game-winning free throws, en route to a 101-99 win. Jocelyn Willoughby shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the field in the same game.

Chicago is one of the WNBA favorites this season with Windy City native Candace Parker in tow. She tallied 16 points and eight rebounds in the opening win over the Mystics, aided by 19 more from Kaleah Cooper.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty: Three stars from Sunday’s win at Indiana

The New York Liberty led from start to finish on Sunday in Indianapolis, sweeping an early-season pair from the Fever.

Behind 20 points from Betnijah Laney, the New York Liberty swept an early-season pair from the Indiana Fever, emerging from Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a 73-65 victory. Sabrina Ionescu, Michaela Onyenwere, and Jazmine Jones all reached double figures, as the Liberty led by as much as 19 and never trailed in their visit to Indianapolis

ESM has three stars to highlight…

3rd Star: Kylee Shook

6 points, 7 rebounds

Though some assistance emerged from the return of Bec Allen, Shook once again faced a literally tall task in guarding Teaira McCowan in the interior. Though Shook missed some putbacks that could’ve expanded the lead, she held her own against rebounding machines McCowan and Jantel Lavender, hauling in a team-best and career-high seven boards. As a team, the Liberty strongly improved their rebounding efforts. They allowed Indiana only nine second chances (as opposed to 22 on Friday) and only lost the rebounding battle 40-38.

2nd Star: Jazmine Jones

10 points, 2 steals

The hockey playoffs are in full swing, so maybe now’s a good time to focus on some plus/minus rankings. Jones was quiet on Friday, but rose up in major opportunities off the bench. Her prescience provided a game-best 12-point swing, as she re-entered double-figures on 4-of-7 shooting. Her prowess came up big on a day where Ionescu was mostly neutralized by Danielle Robinson, who kept Indiana in the game through four charges taken and forcing Ionescu into eight turnovers.

1st Star: Betnijah Laney

20 points, 4 assists

The shooting numbers weren’t as pretty for Laney this time around (6-of-17), but she hit some clutch baskets and wasn’t afraid to counter Indiana’s physicality. When it became clear that the Fever were going to stay in the game through taking charges and dominating the paint, Laney took care of the issue through her outside and mid-range game. She currently leads the team by averaging 25 points over the first two games.

The Liberty (2-0) return to action at home on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Lynx (7 p.m. ET, YES App/ESPN3).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags