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Another tough 4th quarter send New York Liberty to loss at MSG (Highlights)

Back at MSG, the undermanned New York Liberty kept pace with the league-leading Seattle Storm before another brutal fourth quarter.

The New York Liberty were feeling nostalgic on Monday. They enjoyed a loud, vast crowd in their return to Madison Square Garden, yet unfortunately saw a brutal fourth quarter come back to bit them for the second straight game.

Kia Nurse scored 20 points in her first career WNBA start, but it wasn’t enough to stop a late Seattle Storm run, as the league’s top-ranked team ran past the Liberty 96-80 in a Monday matinee, dooming the Liberty (7-21) to their seventh straight loss.

“We really do want to get better. We’re all playing for pride, next year, our jobs, and ourselves. It is what it is,” head coach Katie Smith said afterward. “You’re playing for the New York Liberty and the pride that you have. I love that we came out
today and competed. I look forward to that spirit continuing to blossom moving forward no matter the circumstances. We all want to win some games too.”

Nurse shared the team lead in points with Tina Charles, while Amanda Zauhi B. had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Breanna Stewart paced the Storm with 32 points.

3rd Star: Tina Charles

Back under the lights of MSG, Charles got off to a quick start, tallying 11 points in the first quarter, ending the day with 20 in scoring, as well as six rebounds and four assists. She was pleased to back in a familiar surrounding.

“It’s always great to come back here. I’m just thankful to be able to play here and wear this uniform,” Charles said. “We don’t know what the future holds so I always cherish moments like this.”

If it was indeed the Liberty’s last hurrah at MSG, Charles was pleased to play in front of a young crowd, as Monday’s game welcomed in camps from the New York City area.

“It’s always great to have a day like this. The youth being able to come out, support, and look up to us as role models is something we don’t take for granted.”

2nd Star: Amanda Zauhi B.

In the Liberty’s two MSG games, Zauhi B. picked up a total of 19 rebounds, including a season-high 11 on Monday. She wound up with 17 points to create first double-double of the season. The fourth-year player also contributed big in the third quarter, her putbacks helping New York tie the game after falling behind by 11. If the Liberty can take positives from this tough season, it’s the play of Zauhi B., who is set to create new career-high in all major statistical categories.

1st Star: Kia Nurse

Fans have clamored to more of Nurse all season, and they definitely got their wish at MSG on Monday. In her first time in the starting five, Nurse made the most of her extended opportunity, hitting her first four shots en route to a 20-point, five rebound posting.

“She was solid. She gave us what we always get from her. Flying around on defense and running hard,” Smith noted. “She was aggressive off the dribble and took shots from all over the floor. It wasn’t just the deep ball today. I liked the aggressiveness she showed. It put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

While glad to get her first career start off her WNBA checklist, Nurse remarked that it was all in a day’s work.

“It does not really matter to me whether I start or come off the bench,” Nurse said. “The fact that Marissa Coleman was
out today meant that someone had to step up. It was a next man up kind of thing, but I approached it the same way I do when I come off the bench. I brought the same energy and tried to be aggressive. I started off with a few layups and that just opened things up for me.”

How It Was Decided

Two days after the Liberty mustered only two points and no field goals in the fourth quarter of a loss to the cellar-dwelling Indiana Fever, the Liberty, perhaps fatigued with just nine players in their lineup, fell victim to another brutal final frame.

The Liberty kept pace to the tune of a 74-74 tie almost midway through the period, but a three-point play from Stewart began a run of 13 unanswered Seattle points, en route to finishing the game on a 22-6 tally.

“Obviously for three quarters, we were in the ballgame. We missed some shots, turned the ball over, and (Seattle started to get hot,” Smith noted. “We didn’t get enough shots up today. We turned the ball over a bunch and it resulted in a number of buckets for them.”

Game Notes

  • Kia Vaughn passed Teresa Weatherspoon for the fifth-most rebounds in team history during the first half.
  • Jewell Loyd of Seattle recorded her 2000th career point, earning 17 on the afternoon.

What’s Next

The Liberty will play their penultimate home game of the season on Wednesday night, taking on the Los Angeles Sparks back at Westchester County Center (7:00 PM, MSG+). Los Angeles toward the top of an eight-team logjam in the playoff standings, currently in third-place entering the week’s schedule. The Sparks took the first meeting by an 80-54 final at Staples Center in June, and they will complete their set on August 14 at the same venue.

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