The Liberty’s honeymoon is over.
Tuesday evening, the Liberty sputtered down the stretch in Faculty Park, Ga., in a 73-69 loss to the Atlanta Dream, going scoreless over the ultimate 4 minutes and scoring simply 11 factors within the fourth quarter to fall to eighth place at 8-9.
A breathless 5-1 begin has given strategy to the middling actuality on the WNBA season’s midway level. However there are playoff spots up for grabs within the center tier (beneath the league’s prime three, eight groups vying for 5 spots are separated by simply two video games within the standings) and losses like Tuesday’s don’t assist.
“I do know that they’re fairly disenchanted,” Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins stated of his gamers. “We held them to 35 % [shooting] and misplaced. It’s irritating.”
Betnijah Laney, anticipated to be named an All-Star on Wednesday, led the way in which for the Liberty with 16 factors and 7 assists, however had a number of expensive misses — together with a possible game-tying layup with 25 seconds left — and a turnover down the stretch as a 69-65 lead melted away.
Courtney Williams scored 18 factors, together with a go-ahead basket with 58.2 seconds left, for the Dream.
“I assumed Betnijah carried us,” Hopkins stated. “It’s onerous for me to talk on that final possession as a result of I feel we’re not even in that place with out the way in which she performed.”
Sabrina Ionescu, who exceeded her 25-minute restriction (a part of a protracted restoration from tearing ligaments in her left ankle) by taking part in 28:50, scored six factors with six rebounds and one help. Sami Whitcomb, after scoring a career-high 30 factors in a win over the Dream in Recreation 1 of this mini-series on Saturday, had 11 factors, and rookie of the yr front-runner Michaela Onyenwere had 13.
Subsequent up for the Liberty are an important pair of dates at Barclays Heart in opposition to the Washington Mystics (Saturday) and Dallas Wings (Monday). Each groups are also inhabitants of the crowded near-.500 district from which postseason berths will probably be determined.
Veteran middle Kiah Stokes was a late scratch because of what the Liberty termed “private causes.” Requested about Stokes’ absence after the sport, Hopkins stated, “We’ll have extra on that tomorrow.”