New York Liberty fall in home heartbreaker to Atlanta (Highlights)

A fourth-quarter comeback and Tina Charles’ rise from adversity wasn’t enough for the New York Liberty in a Friday night thriller. 

Even removed from the playoff conversation, the New York Liberty know there is much to play for. An opportunity to earn a win on Friday night, however, fell by the wayside.

The last of Renee Montgomery’s 18 points came through a go-ahead layup with 15 seconds to go. A New York response failed to counter, and the Atlanta Dream emerged from Westchester County Center with a 90-87 victory. The win ended a 12-game Atlanta losing streak.

“It was disappointing. We battled,” head coach Katie Smith said. “The third quarter, we gave up too many points. We came out lackluster and they took the lead by eight or 10 points, basically it’s a different ball game. Instead of us controlling it, we allowed them to get confidence.”

Losing leads in the third quarter has been a become a far too common occurrence for the Liberty this season. Atlanta took Friday’s frame by a 28-17 margin. The Liberty (9-19) would win every other quarter, but still dropped their ninth game over the past ten tries.

The Liberty got off to a scorching shooting start. They sank their first nine shot attempts and saw all ten participants tally at least one point before the first half let out. A first-half lead would summit at 14 before Atlanta (6-22) began to work their way back into it.

New York’s early lead was built mostly through their reserves. A bench trio of Rebecca Allen, Reshanda Gray, and Brittany Boyd combined for 27 points.

“I thought the second unit off the bench gave us great minutes. I thought they were really locked in and ready to go today,” Smith said. “(Boyd) was locked in both defensively and offensively. Sometimes coming off the bench you don’t know what your night is going to be but if you go out there to play, you’re going to make an impact. We need every single person to make an impact. She can change the pace of the game, create for others and get by people. I thought today was one of her best nights, just handling the team and making the right reads.”

 

When the Liberty lead evaporated in the second half, it was Boyd who helped set up the late dramatics. Six consecutive points over the final four minutes helped trim a six-point Atlanta lead.

“Some players in here have played together for years. So, it’s no doubt in my mind when I am being doubled team Brittany Boyd will be there and take the shot immediately same thing with Rebecca Allen,” the Liberty’s Tina Charles said. “The second group came in did a great job picking it up and creating a large margin.”

The Liberty eventually took a late lead through Tina Charles free throws. The veteran had previously left the game with a shoulder injury late in the first half, but returned to hit some clutch late baskets.

Smith later said Charles’ ailment was simple tweak. Charles would earn 15 points, second only in Liberty totals to Bria Hartley’s 17. The latter reached her season-best for the third time this season and has reached double figures in five of the past six games.

New York had a chance to secure the victory, but a final shot from Allen went in and out before an Atlanta rebound led to final free throws. With the final margin created, the Dream got one more stop to nab their first win since July 12. The Liberty held an 85-84 advantage with 32 seconds to go, but Hartley was whistled for an offensive foul that set up Montgomery’ heroics.

Smith acknowledged her team’s foul issues, but expressed her displeasure with Friday’s officiating.

“We got to stop fouling, cheap fouls,” she said before adding, “I think the refs were terrible. I think they were terrible, absolutely. I think the stuff they were calling for them, we’re not getting those calls. They’re terrible.”

Currently, the only team eliminated from WNBA playoff contention, the Dream will face off against the Liberty one more time on Sept. 8. It will be the regular-season finale for both squads.

The Liberty return to action on Sunday afternoon, hitting the road to take on the Washington Mystics (3:00 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

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