New York Liberty
(Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty failed to obtain back-to-back wins, doomed their yet another loss to close the first half of the season.

As thunderstorms rocked the tri-state area on Tuesday, the New York Liberty failed to weather a storm of their own at Westchester County Center.

The Liberty failed to capitalize on an early lead at home and suffered yet another painful defeat, falling 77-62 in White Plains. The loss cost the Liberty (5-12) a chance to earn back-to-back wins for the first time since early June.

“We’re being very repetitive on what we’ve asked them to do. We were undisciplined and not always on the same page on both ends of the floor,” head coach Katie Smith said. “At the end of the day, it’s just not a very disciplined basketball team.”

The game featured a rare off-night for Tina Charles, who failed to reach double figures for the first time this season. Bria Hartley instead led the team with 16, while Amanda Zauhi B. added 13 off the bench.

Allowing Seattle (13-5) to be paced by Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd with 21 each, the Liberty enter their halfway mark in dire straights. The feeling around the locker room, however, is that they can work out of it, with Hartley preaching a theme of togetherness after an extended cooldown period.

“One thing about a team is that we all got to come together,” Hartley said. “We all got to go out there and fight with each other every single night. Regardless of how games are going, we got to make sure we stay together.”

3rd Star: Kia Vaughn

Vaughn continued a strong stretch, reaching double figures for the third time in her last four games. Smith admitted that Vaughn has been a silver lining over this difficult stretch.

“(I’ve) been pleased with her on both ends,” Smith praised. “Solid defender, banging in there getting rebounds. She’s confident taking the shots she’s been hitting.”

2nd Star: Amanda Zauhi B.

Zauhi B. continues to make a difference off the bench, and she was the team’s second-leading scorer and also tallied four assists and rebounds each. The contributions from deep reserves like Zauhi B., Kia Nurse and Brittany Boyd make this tough start harder to handle.

“She’s been giving us a lift. She’s been aggressive, she’s been looking to score, she’s been doing a lot of things,” Smith said. “She’s active when she’s been on the floor. She’s been giving us good minutes and is always ready to play.”

1st Star: Bria Hartley

It was a milestone evening for Hartley, who single-handedly kept the Liberty game until the Seattle rush simply became too much. Scoreless in the first half, Hartley exploded for 14 points, the first 12 accounting for the first dozen New York points, in the third quarter, and eventually reached 1,000 points for her career.

While Hartley was grateful for reaching that landmark, she’s looking forward to regrouping as a team to get back on the right track.

“We have to make sure we’re building good habits. We want to become consistent,” Hartley said. “We win one game and then come back and we lose another one so we just have to come back, keep coming together, and keep growing as a team. We want to be more consistent.”

How It Was Decided

The Liberty emerged from the first quarter with a 19-16 lead and were doing a solid job guarding Stewart, the league’s leading scorer, using inside double teams to keep her in check. New York held a 26-23 advantage midway through the frame, but two quick baskets by Stewart, who finally broke through the New York pressure, gave the Storm a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

They would conclude the quarter on a 16-2 run, which, true to the Liberty’s unlucky form, ended on not just a buzzer beater, but also a Liberty technical foul, as Brittany Boyd was the culprit. With a healthy 39-28 lead after 20 minutes, the Storm never looked back.

Game Notes

  • Marissa Coleman (right ankle sprain) missed her fifth consecutive game.
  • Hartley reached the 1,000-point plateau against the team that drafted her, the Seattle Storm. Chosen seventh overall in 2014, she was subsequently traded to Washington on draft night.
  • The Liberty were called for three technical fouls. Shavonte Zellous had one in the first quarter, while Brittany Boyd was called for one at the end of the second. Smith had the last one in the third quarter.

What’s Next

The Liberty will return to the scene of a recent crime on Thursday, visiting the Washington Mystics at Capital One Arena on Thursday night (7:00 p.m. ET, MSG+).

They nearly stole a win from the Eastern Conference leaders last weekend, but Elena Delle Donne’s buzzer-beating triple stifled the upset, creating an 80-77 Washington win.

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