Natasha Cloud
AP Photo

With their 94-85 loss to the Washington Mystics, the New York Liberty fall to 0-4, but three of the four losses have come by single digits.

Geoff Magliocchetti

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—The New York Liberty are pleased with their progress, but their moral victories have failed to erase the zero in their win column.

Five New Yorkers reached double figures on Friday night at Westchester County Center. Alas for the Liberty, it was no match for 26 from Natasha Cloud. Her team-high tally helped the Washington Mystics earn a 94-85 victory.

The Liberty (0-4) are one of two winless teams left in this infantile WNBA season. Three of the four losses, all at home, have come by a combined 15 points.

Optimism continued to reign in postgame statements, not unlike the aftermath of the prior defeats.


“I know we can play with anybody in this league,” head coach Katie Smith said. “We’re in the right direction. We know we’re doing the right stuff. They’re bringing it every single day.”

Tina Charles once again headed the Liberty effort. The WNBA’s leading scorer put up 27 points in defeat.

Her individual efforts have been wasted, but Charles foresees a form of dawn coming for New York.

“I think if anything has been shown, it’s effort,” Charles said. “Now we just have to convert it into wins and hopefully we can start with that against Las Vegas.”

The Las Vegas Aces are the Liberty’s next opponent, visiting White Plains on Sunday afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go).

Charles had reached double figures before the first quarter’s time ran out. The Liberty led by as much as nine and brought a 26-20 lead into the second frame. Smith was more impressed by Charles’ defensive efforts. Facing up against fellow WNBA MVP candidate Elena Delle Donne, Charles played her part in limiting her USA teammate to 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

“I thought Tina had a really good game defensively,” Smith said. “We didn’t give (Delle Donne) too many offensive boards. I thought our team was locked in on that.”

“I love playing against the best players. That’s when you can see where you are in your game,” relished Charles. “I look forward to Nneka (Ogwumike of Los Angeles), Elena tonight. I look forward to guarding (A’ja Wilson) on (Sunday).”

Cloud picked up the slack with Delle Donne held in check. She helped expand a slim Washington lead in the fourth quarter, as the Mystics (3-1) embarked on an 11-2 run that helped put the game away. Six Mystics reached double-figures in scoring, aided by a 27-for-28 performance at the foul line. In comparison, the Liberty were awarded just 11 free throws, likewise missing just one.

The Liberty received shooting sparks off the bench through Bria Hartley and Rebecca Allen. The duo combined for 27 points in relief. Rookie Han Xu entered the game late in the fourth quarter, delighting the Westchester crowd. Fellow first-year Asia Durr earned 11 points and four steals.

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