New York Liberty
(Photo by Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images)

Outscored 17-2 in the fourth quarter, the New York Liberty’s season took its toughest turn yet, as they fell to the last-place Indiana Fever.

As if it wasn’t clear already, Saturday afternoon was definitive proof that 2018 isn’t the New York Liberty’s year.

The Liberty became the victims of the Indiana Fever’s first winning streak of the season, as a fruitless fourth quarter led to a 68-55 loss at Westchester County Center. It’s the team’s sixth consecutive defeat as they opened a four-game homestand, their last of the season.

“We didn’t hit shots, extra pass, the ball sticks a little bit with us. The defense gets a chance to recover and find another person so its just the next pass, the one more, driving and picking and also then knocking down a few shots.”

Tina Charles picked up a double-double in the losing effort, while Indiana featured four scorers with at least 10, headlined by Candice Dupree’s 25.

3rd Star: Brittany Boyd

The Liberty used some smaller lineups during on Saturday, giving Marissa Coleman and Kia Nurse some extended time, as well as getting Rebecca Allen her season-high in minutes. At the forefront of the stats was Boyd, who tallied six points and seven rebounds. Though Boyd has made the most of her time in the starting lineup time, one can only imagine how the Liberty’s season could’ve turned out if she didn’t miss the opening portions with a lingering 2017 injury.

2nd Star: Kia Vaughn

Vaughn was having one of her finer games of the season, but, in another cruel twist of injury fate, an ankle injury forced her out of the game. She was establishing a strong interior prescience, picking up eight points and four rebounds in the first half.

“That seems to be the story of the season, injuries here, injuries there,” said Vaughn, who landed on the foot of an Indiana player. “Overall just not the outcome I wanted to not be out there with the team. We locked it up. If I were able to go, I would have given (Smith) the okay.”

1st Star: Tina Charles

Another painful loss overshadowed another sterling Charles performance, putting in 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“From my team, we have to change,” Charles said. “Until we change as individuals, taking ownership of what our position is, what Katie asks of us, things won’t be different.”

Charles remained gracious in defeat after the game. She stayed near the Liberty bench to pose for some photos with fans dressed in the traditional Liberty blue jerseys.

“As far as the fans, thank you for coming out,” she said. “The
things that we can control are our effort, our energy, our attitude.”

How It Was Decided

Facing off against the last-place Fever, the Liberty took care of business in the first quarter, jumping out to a 21-7 lead. Indiana slowly chipped away at the lead, but the Liberty were able to stave them off until the dreaded fourth quarter.

The Liberty failed to sink a single field goal in the fourth quarter, and the Fever took advantage, outscoring them 17-2 in the final frame. The lone New York scoring came through two Bria Hartley free throws.

“We need to have an aggressive mentality, we have to pass, driving and being aggressive not only to get your own shot but then find somebody else,” Smith said of the fourth. “Then it’s also wanting the basketball and being ready to take shots when you get it.”

Game Notes

  • Shavonte Zellous (right ankle sprain) and Epiphanny Prince (right knee contusion) each sat out.
  • In a cruel bit of irony, the Liberty’s two-point fourth quarter came seven years to the day when the Liberty held the Chicago Sky to a mere one point in a quarter, in a 59-49 win at Madison Square Garden.
  • The Liberty will finish with 20 losses in a season for the first time since 2009.
  • The Liberty hosted “#BeYou Empowerment Day”, welcoming in a trio of inspirational women to speak prior to the game. American Olympic medalist Nastia Liukin, Hot 97 DJ Megan Ryte, and Vox Media journalist Liz Plank spoke about their respective careers and experiences, as well as took questions from audience members.

What’s Next

The Liberty will play their second of two Madison Square Garden games on Monday morning, welcoming in the league-leading Seattle Storm (11:00 AM, MSG+). Currently 3.5 games ahead of second-place Phoenix, the Storm will face the Liberty twice this month, with the rematch coming August 17 at KeyArena. Seattle won the first matchup this season by a 77-62 final in White Plains on July 3.

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