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Shaky 3rd quarter dooms New York Liberty despite 24 from Kia Nurse (Highlights)

Taking nine players to Minnesota, the New York Liberty held their own against the Lynx but fell thanks to a one-sided third quarter.

If it’s any consolation to the New York Liberty, the road to the end of EuroBasket is assisted by six upcoming days off. That might not be the case in ride home from Minneapolis.

Kia Nurse and Tina Charles combined for 46 points, but their efforts weren’t enough to counter a tough third quarter. The Liberty were outscored 28-14 by the Minnesota Lynx in the third quarter en route to a 92-83 defeat on Saturday night at Target Center. Now 3-7, five of the New York losses have come by single digits.

“We battled, we were right there,” head coach Katie Smith said. “Third quarter, they pounded it on this inside and we didn’t pressure the basketball and also didn’t do a great job on (Sylvia) Fowles.

New York took only nine active players to Minnesota. The injured Rebecca Allen (hand) missed her fifth consecutive game, while Amanda Zahui B.missed her first game as part of her FIBA EuroBasket Women tour for Sweden. Bria Hartley, Kiah Stokes, and Marine Johannes departed weeks prior.

Yet, the Liberty’s resilience was on full display against the Lynx. They won each of the other three frames and saw four players reach double figures. One of those was Reshanda Gray, who placed Zahui B in the starting lineup. In her first start since 2016, Gray picked up 11 points and six rebounds. One basket was her first career three-pointer, earned in the second half.

Elsewhere, Nurse broke the 20-point precipice for the third time over the last five games. Her 24 points led New York scoring, followed closely behind by Charles with 22. The latter also came one rebound short of a double-double.

The third quarter, however, spelled the Liberty’s doom. Their lack of a strong interior prescience was painfully on display, as the Lynx (5-5) dominated the paint. Minnesota outscored the Liberty 50-38 in the paint, headlined by the participation of Sylvia Fowles. The All-Star was held to six points in the first half, but burst onto the scene with 10 in the third alone. She wound up with a double-double performance of 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Minnesota’s 52 percent shooting performance was also assisted by Nurse’s former Connecticut comrade Napheesa Collier, who hit each of her three triple attempts in the second half. Odyssey Sims, shooting 9-of-15, led all Lynx scorers with 20.

New York kept things rolling until the very end. Despite Minnesota efforts to pull away, the Liberty kept things at a single-digit deficit for a majority of the fourth quarter. Things almost got very interesting after Nurse stole an inbounds pass, but missed the ensuing fast-break layup. After her open three fell short on the next possession, the Liberty were resigned to their fate.

The Liberty and Lynx have split their first two meetings this season, each winning at home. One final matchup remains on August 13 at Westchester County Center.

The Liberty now have six days off before returning to action on Friday night at home against the Dallas Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, YES).

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