Rebecca Allen scored 20 points in the second quarter alone, but the New York Liberty lost another one at home to the Minnesota Lynx.
It was deja vu all over again in the best and worst ways for the New York Liberty.
For the second time in six days, Rebecca Allen set a new career-high. Alas, for the second time in three days, a brutal opening to the game’s latter half cost them what could’ve been a big win.
Allen’s career-best 28 points were offset by a balanced scoring effort from the Minnesota Lynx. Her fellow Australian reserve Stephanie Talbot had 16 points, one behind Odyssey Sims’ Minnesota-best 17. The Lynx rolled on to an 89-73 victory on Tuesday night at Westchester County Center.
“We battled a little while, started the third quarter, gave them the lead again, and it was a dog fight the rest of the way,” head coach Katie Smith said. “I thought it was great, with Bec. We’ve had success in the first half, kind of digging ourselves out of holes. I like that the unit was ready to rock and roll. The third quarter is a nemesis for us.”
A downright historic ten minutes from Allen offset early sloppiness from both teams and officials. Minnesota built their lead up to 16, leading 34-18 just prior to the midway mark of the second quarter. That’s when Allen worked her magic.
Allen nearly single-handedly erased the Lynx’s lead, ending the frame with 20 points. She shot 7-for-11 during the session and earned herself a spot in the WNBA record books. The Victoria-born forward/guard set a new team record with her tally and fell just short of Diana Taurasi’s 2006 landmark (22).
This performance comes less than a week after Allen earned the first 20-point game of her career. She had 21 points last Wednesday night in Chicago.
“I had my purple patch in the second quarter,” Allen said. “It was obviously a good feeling. I didn’t show a lot of emotion.”
With such a big individual effort under her belt, Allen was more focused on the contributions of others. Her father John was in attendance, much like he was for the performance in Chicago, and Allen would refer to him as her “lucky charm”.
Allen would also praise the resiliency her team displayed in erasing the deficit. In the wake of her efforts, fast-break scores from Kia Nurse and Marine Johannes allowed the Liberty to tie the game. A late Minnesota basket created a small 42-40 hole, but Allen was nonetheless glad to see her teammates inspired.
“It was really good to show resilience. When we go down, that’s when we can roll over so it’s good to know we can fight back. So it’s good to know that we can fight back.”
Unfortunately, turnovers added to New York’s deficit, much like Sunday’s loss to Seattle. The first 2:48 of the third quarter featured three New York (8-16) turnovers and an 8-0 Minnesota run. The Lynx (13-12) wound up winning the frame 24-15 en route to their third win in their last four games.
Minnesota took two of the three-game set from the Liberty and also established a 4.5-game gap on them for one of the final WNBA playoff spots. The reeling Liberty have now lost six in a row and sit 3.5 games behind idle Phoenix for the last postseason invitation.
“It’s a mindset, it’s a mentality, it’s about coming into the second half, 0-0 starting again. It’s about sticking to the game plan. We need to be able to make that switch in our minds and come out and be mentally present,” Allen said of the team’s recent struggles. “(Turnovers) are our problem collectively. It’s not like it’s only one or two people. It’s everyone’s…that’s what we need to change.”
The Liberty lost 17 turnovers on Tuesday night. Double-figure efforts from Nurse (11, 5-of-15 FG) and Bria Hartley (10, 4-of-12) were wasted.
“If we’re not scoring, they can’t be scoring. That’s just how it is,” Smith said. “Until we get this thing going, we’ve got to make sure they don’t score.”
New York did manage to provide the White Plains faithful with late jubilation in the form of Han Xu. Fans clamored staff to insert the China-born rookie in the late stages of the game. Those requests were fulfilled with just over three minutes remaining. Han would later sink a basket, much to the spectator’s delight.
“I was ready for the whole game, the whole period. So when the fans were chanting my name, I was ready,” Han told ESNY through translator Xiaouxe Chang. “That was a good time for me.”
The Liberty will next embark on a three-game road trip, one that starts on Friday night in Dallas (8:00 p.m. ET, CBSSN). They have split their series thus far with the Wings, who take on Los Angeles at home tomorrow.