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New York Liberty fall in buzzer beater vs. first-place Connecticut (Highlights)

The New York Liberty returned to Westchester County Center on Thursday night, but heartbreak followed them home from Madison Square Garden.

Shekinna Stricklin of the Connecticut Sun sank a three-pointer at the buzzer, part of a miraculous four-point play to give the league’s top-ranked team an 88-86 victory in White Plains. It was the second straight loss for the Liberty, who fell 80-74 on Tuesday to Phoenix.

Near the depths of the Eastern Conference, the Liberty have dealt with several brutal losses, in this young season, as their quartet of losses has come by a combined 15 points.

Three Stars

3rd Star: Marissa Coleman

At first glance, it appeared that Coleman would be the heroine, as she took a slinky pass from Shavonte Zellous to put up a contested layup that put the Liberty ahead by one late. Despite her guard status, it was Coleman that was crashing the boards on the inside, complementing 11 points with seven rebounds, two of them creating second chances.

2nd Star: Shavonte Zellous

Zellous was all over the court, frustrating the Sun on both ends of the court as the Liberty grew their lead. That showstopping pass to Coleman, as the shot clock was dying, was part of a team-high seven assists on the evening. With 13 points tonight, Zellous has now reached double-figures in three of the past four games, this being the first the Liberty have lost when she has done so.

1st Star: Tina Charles

Another game, another stellar Tina Charles performance. Charles was held to only six points in the first quarter, but her second-half heroics helped keep the Sun at bay until it was no longer possible. Eight of her points came in the final quarter, but she was one of the few on the team hitting her shots late. Outside the paint, the Liberty were 2-for-9 from the field, dooming their chances of pulling away. Charles remains the league’s leading scorer, and she also pulled in nine rebounds, but her goal of a championship will continue to prove elusive with these brutal losses.

What Decided It

It’s a play that needs little words, little explanation, and it’s something that can haunt the Liberty for the remainder of the season. With a chance to defeat the league’s top team, the Liberty, up 85-84 picked up a huge offensive rebound, and Bria Hartley went to the foul line for two after an intentional foul. After Hartley split her pair, Connecticut went to work with just over five seconds to go. Jasmine Thomas, who had to leave the game on a teammate’s back after suffering an ankle injury, drove down the lane, but dished it to an open Stricklen at the last second. As Zellous tried to defend in vain, the shot sank with plenty of time to spare, silencing what was a raucous Westchester crowd.

What’s Next

The Liberty will enter the second half of their four-game homestand, as they welcome in the Indiana Fever on Sunday afternoon (3 PM, MSG). The Liberty recently prevailed in an 87-81 overtime thriller against Indiana last Saturday in their first road win of 2018.

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