Liberty ‘come together’ for back-to-back home wins
by Bryan Fonseca
Jun 06, 2017 | 2939 views | 0 0 comments | 307 307 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Liberty vs. Sparks
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On May 30, the New York Liberty were defeated 90-75 by the 2016 champion Los Angeles Sparks, right before two key players in Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn were scheduled to leave for obligations overseas, with an expected return in late June.

This piled on top of an already critical injury, losing starting point guard Brittany Boyd in the second game of the season due to a torn Achilles.

The L.A. loss put the Liberty at (2-3) with a collection of tough outs on the horizon in the Dallas Wings and the Phoenix Mercury.

While the loss to Candace Parker and company stung, the Liberty regrouped and squeaked by the Wings, 93-89, on Friday, and thrashed the Mercury, 88-72, on Sunday.

“We knew we had to stay together,” said Liberty guard Shavonte Zellous, who netted a season-best 27 points Friday. “We can’t get too high or too low over a win or a loss.”

“We’ve been challenging one another, holding each other accountable for what our job description is,” added Tina Charles, who had a career-best 36 points on that same Friday.

While Charles serves as the de facto team leader, the Queens native offered a rightful elevated level of praise to teammate and fellow post player Kiah Stokes, who put forth the two-best games of her young career in the back-to-back victories.

Stokes emerged for 13 points and a career-best 15 rebounds against Dallas, and torched the Mercury with a career-high 23 points and 14 boards less than 48 hours later.

“I think Kiah Stokes could be one of the greatest WNBA players ever just with her athleticism, her size, and just what she does defensively,” offered Charles of Stokes, who was the Liberty’s first round pick in 2015.

Staying true to the unselfish Liberty nature, Stokes passed the praise along to her fellow UConn alum, crediting the former MVP with aiding her growth.

“Me and her have been working before practice every day trying to get more comfortable in the paint,” said Stokes..

Another player who has emerged is four-year guard Bria Hartley, who was acquired via trade in January along with Vaughn.

After scoring two points in the first five games of the season, Hartley, who was in the starting line-up on Friday for the first time this season, netted 10 points, dished out four assists and blocked two shots against Dallas.

“I feel like I’ve been approaching it the same way,” said Hartley of her new role. “I know I have to step-up and I take pride in that, but I think it’s not solely on one person to step-up. If everybody does a little bit more than it takes the pressure off of everybody.”

The selfless attitude, according to Harley, starts from the top.

“[Charles] holds herself accountable for everything,” said Hartley. “When you have a leader that has that mentality it just flows through everyone else on the team and you’re able to build.”

“It’s extremely important to me,” Charles added, regarding the importance of leadership. “I see it as an opportunity to impact 11 other lives.”

The ladies finish the five-game Madison Square Garden home stand this week, with an 11 a.m. tip-off against the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday, and a 3 p.m. tip against the Seattle Storm on Sunday.
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