New York Liberty
Kathy Willens/AP Photo

A spirited effort in front of adoring new fans wasn’t enough for the New York Liberty to take an upset win away from the defending champions.

Geoff Magliocchetti

An organizational win for the New York Liberty couldn’t translate to one on the court.

Alysha Clark turned a perfect shooting day into 21 points, part of a Seattle Storm effort that outscored New York 41-24 in the second half. That erased a lead the Liberty had at intermission to create an 84-69 victory for the WNBA’s defending champions at Barclays Center. It was the first regular-season home game for the Liberty in Brooklyn. They previously defeated the Chinese national team in a May exhibition.

An otherwise joyous day for the Liberty (8-15) was done in by the familiar enemy of turnovers. New York lost the ball 18 times, which led to 26 Seattle points. Thus, it was no mystery that the Liberty lost a 45-43 halftime lead.

“We dug ourselves a hole again in the second half,” head coach Katie Smith said. “We knew they were going to rachet up their pressure, knew they were going to fly around. We turned over the ball in the 2nd half.”

This marked the second straight game to see the Liberty lose a halftime lead en route to defeat. Seattle (14-11) opened the second half on an 11-2 run over the first two minutes and never truly looked back. The Liberty only got as close as eight for the remainder of the game.

“We can’t turn the ball over,” Smith emphatically stated. Asked what could help the fighting team turn the corner, Smith said, “Start the third quarter better on defense. Stop turning over the basketball.”

Wasted in the effort was a strong effort from Tina Charles. A Queens native who spent countless hours in Brooklyn, Charles tallied 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting.

Bria Hartley added a season-high 17 points earned mostly through a quartet of three-pointers. Hartley was forced to take over the scoring duties when Seattle double teams held Charles to just two points after a 20-point first half.

Hartley feels the Liberty, who were missing starters Amanda Zahui B (concussion) and Asia Durr (groin strain), are close to turning a corner that will lead to more wins.

“When you’re in a funk like this, it’s that much harder to get out,” she said. “(But) we have moments that are really good. We have to continue to push through and try to get a win.”

Asked what could help cut down the turnovers, Charles said the key was “just valuing every possession”.

“Valuing the ball. Knowing how important it is. We lost by 15 points. You have the 19 turnovers becoming 26 points so, cut that in half, it’s a different ball game.”

Sami Whitcomb added 18 points for Seattle, trailed closely by Natasha Howard with 17.

On an organizational level, the Liberty enjoyed a strong afternoon at Barclays Center. The arena is primarily known as the home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn minority owner Joseph Tsai purchased the team in January.

Discussions are ongoing about making Barclays Center a full-time, or at least more frequent, base for the Liberty. Many members of the team live in the area and the team holds its practices at St. Joseph’s College. The Brooklyn outing earned unanimously positive reviews from Liberty staff and players.

“I’m not surprised at the crowd,” Charles said. “The New York Liberty has a great following. This is a legendary organization, being one of the very first franchises when it started it 97. It wasn’t a shocker to me at all.”

“Crowd was great, atmosphere’s great, energy’s great. All the game ops, fans, it has a really fun vibe for basketball,” Smith added. “We had a blast today. For a majority of the game, we were solid.”

The defending champion Storm took two of three meetings from the Liberty this season with this win.

New York still sits three games behind the WNBA’s final playoff spot. They’ll have a chance to get closer to one of the teams they’re facing on Tuesday night. The return to Westchester County Center comes against the seventh-place Minnesota Lynx (7:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go). Minnesota leads the Liberty by 3 1/2 games and has split the season series so far.

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