The New York Liberty, who entered Friday’s game, their first at home since June 23, with an 8-8 record, split two-MSG based affairs in highly different fashion.
The Liberty were ousted by the Chicago Sky, who had previously been the second worst team in the league at 5-12, by a 78-68 final.
On Sunday, the Liberty, then under. 500 for the first time since early June, decimated the Washington Mystics, 85-55, who, at 11-8, were tied for first in the East. Though, it should be noted that the Mystics were without superstar Elena Delle Donne, who did not play due to a sprained right ankle.
In any event, the Liberty enter the new week at 9-9, and may have found something by putting Bria Hartley back in the starting line-up. The UConn alum ran the point and netted 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a 3-of-6 display from deep.
The move sent guard Sugar Rodgers to the bench, utilizing her scoring to help aid the second unit, who head coach Bill Laimbeer challenged after Friday’s loss.
Rodgers came in and showed no signs of slowing down, recording 14 points, five assists and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
Hartley, who logged 23 minutes less than 48 hours after playing only two minutes, said after the game that she thinks “the team is having fun.”
“I think with the losing streak, we were kind of stressed and depressed,” said the 2010 Miss Basketball for New York State. “I think our mentality was just to go out there and have fun, play like the little kid in you that’s playing in your backyard.”
Tina Charles, who recently became the Liberty’s all-time leading rebounder, had a 23-point, 19-rebound performance on Friday. The Queens native followed up with a six-point, seven-rebound outing in the win over Washington, but will gladly settle for the 30-point victory at the end of it all, even if it meant her not having to carry the offense.
“I think it’s just more important for them individually knowing that there are some nights that I might not be there on the stats sheet offensively, and they can do what they have to do,” said the soon-to-be WNBA All-Star starter on July 22. “Everyone in this locker room got into the WNBA for a reason, and they have to just keep that in their mind.”
The Liberty were set to return home on Wednesday to face Charles’ former squad, the Connecticut Sun, who now stand alone at first place in the East with a 12-8 record.