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Della Donne buzzer-beater sends hard-fighting New York Liberty to yet another loss (Highlights)

In a game defined by clock stoppages and reviews, Elena Delle Donne’s triple stifled a much-needed New York Liberty upset.

A chance at a much-needed upset victory on the road disappeared in literally less than a second for the New York Liberty.

Elena Delle Donne’s catch-and-shoot triple with 0.6 seconds left in regulation doomed the New York Liberty to yet another loss, as the Washington Mystics stole an 80-77 victory at Capital One Arena.

Now losers of four in a row and six of their past seven, the Liberty (4-10) played perhaps their most complete game of the season, yet couldn’t steal an elusive win. Despite shooting 54 percent in the first half, New York still found themselves trailing 44-39 at the midway point. They clawed and scratched their way back, even briefly taking the lead in the fourth frame, but Della Donne’s shot silenced the ladies in seafoam green.

The Washington miracle, creating the fourth consecutive win for the Mystics (10-5), is the second buzzer-beating spectacular to befall the Liberty this month, as it brought back harrowing memories of the Shekinna Stricklen triple that ended a June 7 defeat to the Connecticut Sun.

3rd Star: Kia Vaughn

Going head-to-head with Delle Donne on the inside for most of the game, Vaughn had her best game of the season, netting a campaign-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. She also earned some key rebounds that stifled Washington chances and kept New York possessions alive.

2nd Star: Tina Charles

Charles was the premature hero for the Liberty, as she banked a tying basketball off the glass with seven seconds to go to knot things up at 77. Making the loss all the more painful was the fact that Charles, who picked up 16 points, actually had plenty of help in the visit to Washington, and yet once again ends up on the wrong end. Charles likewise nabbed seven rebounds, leading all participants.

1st Star: Epiphanny Prince

Still trying to reacquaint herself with the WNBA game, Princes, partaking in her sixth game of the season, was the one who spearheaded New York’s second-half comeback.

Though the rest of the team finished just 1-for-11 from three-point range, Prince picked up the slack with a 4-of-5 performance, fueling her to a season-high 21 points. If Prince can revert to her veteran form, the Liberty can start to climb themselves out of this deepening hole.

How It Was Decided

The final stages of the game were defined by reviews and missed calls on both sides. With the score tied at 73 in the final minute, a Tierra Ruffin-Pratt layup seemingly clanged off the backboard with no touch of the rim. Delle Donne got the rebound and was immediately fouled in an attempt to beat the shot clock, which expired before she got the ball way. After two sunk free throws, the Liberty fought back to create a 77 deadlock after Charles’ contested equalizer.

Kristi Tolliver put up a would-be game-winner, but airballed the shot thanks to an uncalled foul, as defender Sugar Rodgers made contact with Tolliver as the shot was released. Despite Rodgers touching Tolliver’s hand, and not the ball (foul calls are not reviewable), Washington was nonetheless awarded possession after a review which put 0.6 seconds back on the clock. That was more than enough time to set up Delle Donne’s heroics, shutting down hopes of a desperate Liberty upset.

Game Notes

  • Marissa Coleman (right ankle sprain) missed her second straight game.
  • The start of the game was delayed by a half hour, as Capital One Arena staff struggled to get the game clocks working.

What’s Next

The Liberty will complete a back-to-back tomorrow at home, welcoming in the Chicago Sky to Westchester County Center (7:30 PM, MSG+). This tough season got off to an eerie start against the Sky back on May 20 in Illinois, a close 80-76 defeat at Wintrust Arena. Tomorrow’s Chicago game will mark a home-and-home pair, as they’ll revist the Windy City on Sunday.

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