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New York Liberty reunion spoiled by brutal 2nd quarter (Highlights)

The New York Liberty were the closest they’ve been to full strength this season, but fell to the Chicago Sky on the road.

Geoff Magliocchetti

A brutal second quarter spoiled a New York Liberty reunion.

The team welcomed three players from the FIBA EuroBasket Women’s tournament and one more from injury on Friday night at Winstrust Arena. But a harrowing ten minutes that saw them on the wrong end of a 28-10 swing spelled their doom as the Chicago Sky took home a 99-83 decision at home. Five players reached double figures for Chicago. Jantel Lavender and Courtney Vandersloot led their victorious squad with 17 each.

The Liberty (7-9) saw their four-game winning streak on the road come to an end. Chicago was ahead after a tightly contested first quarter, but the Liberty actually took the lead early in the fateful second. They were paced by newly minted All-Star starter Kia Nurse, who earned 11 points in the opening frame alone.

But a 33-27 Liberty lead quickly went by the wayside with a relentless Chicago rush. The Sky embarked on a 28-2 run over the final seven minutes of the session to build a 20-point halftime lead. The horror was capped with a backbreaking buzzer-beater. With 0.4 seconds on the clock after a Chicago timeout, Vandersloot’s floating inbound pass under the Sky basket went in and out of the hands of Gabby Williams. The ball sank through to create the Sky’s 55-35 lead at the break.

Nurse led the game with 18 points. European returnees Bria Hartley and Amanda Zahui B.each struggled in their respective returns to American hardwood. Hartley was in the starting lineup (replacing Asia Durr) and scored 13 points, but shot 2-of-9 from the field (albeit accompanied by a perfect 8-for-8 mark from the foul line). Zahui B was held scoreless from the field and score five from free throws. Rebecca Allen partook in her first game since June 12, scoring six points in 12 minutes.

Marine Johannes would provide a silver lining for the Liberty. The French rookie scored 10 points in her WNBA debut.

The Sky (8-8) likewise enjoyed some long-awaited returns. Jamierra Faulkner saw her first action in over a calendar year and touted first-round pick Katie Lou Samuelson took the court for the first time since June 9. Their prolonged absences were respectively due to torn knee ligaments and a hand injury.

The Liberty will return to action on Sunday night against the Seattle Storm (7:00 p.m. ET, WNBA League Pass). This visit to Alaska Airlines Arena comes just 11 days after the Liberty earned a narrow 84-83 win on the same court.

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