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September 24th 2016

Mercury 101 Liberty 94

It’s the second round of the WNBA’s single game elimination playoffs. The New York Liberty because of their record had a bye in the first round. They hosted the Phoenix Mercury after they advanced in the first round after defeating the Indiana Fever. The Liberty players were spirited during the pregame warm-ups as they were eager to defend home court with a chance to advance to the semi-final round of the WNBA Playoffs. Before the game Tina Charles received the award for leading the league in scoring and rebounding, becoming just the third player in league history to do so.

 

The Mercury came out poised offensively, Diana Tuarasi especially came out hot as she had 10-points early in the first quarter. She hit two early 3’s and looked to set the tone for her teammates. Tina Chalres answered with 10-points of her own for the home team, she was also aggressive offensively. Carolyn Swords was active as her teammates gave her nifty passes in the lane to allow her to finish close to the basket where she is most comfortable. With 1:54 left in the first the Liberty scored on a Shavonte Zellaous layup in transition after a steal on the other end. The crowd erupted as the Mercury was forced to call a timeout after the game was tied as they felt the momentum switch to the home team. At the end of the first the game was all tied up at 25.

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Taurasi all smiles after the big win on the road.. Photo: (Sherman Gomez)

 

The Liberty started the second quarter with 3 consecutive turnovers leading to two consecutive Penny Taylor 3’s that gave the Mercury back the momentum and a 6-point lead. The Liberty regained their composure midway through the second period however Brittney Griner came alive for the visitors. She started to control the boards and seemed to score on every possession. The Mercury took a 15-point lead with 2:48 left in the first half as Griner continued to lead her teammates. She had 17-points and 8 rebounds and 3 assists in the first half. Tina Charles finished with 12-points and 5 boards at the half as the home team trailed 52-41.

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Brittney Grinet finished with 22-points and 10 rebounds. Photo: (Sherman Gomez) PureSportsNY

The Liberty mounted a furious comeback to begin the second half they erupted with a 13-2 run to start the period and tied the game at 54. Tanisha Wright and Carolyn Swords both gave the home team some great energy as they both finished the game with double figure scoring. After two tough fouls to begin the third Griner continued her offensive domination for the Mercury. Penny Taylor also had 13-points at the end of the third as she was one of three players for the visitors with double figure scoring. Brittney picked up her 4th foul with 1:05 left in the 3rd period but it didn’t seem to affect her for the rest of the game.

 

Diana was Diana tonight..” – Tina Charles

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Tina Charles reflecting on the loss… Great Season for Tina comes to an end.. Photo:(Sherman Gomez) PureSportsNY

 

The 4th period saw the intensity of playoff basketball, neither team seemed to be able to separate themselves with a large lead. It was truly win or go home time and neither team was ready to end their season tonight. The Liberty had two costly turnovers with 5:37 left in the game, which led to a 3 from Marta Xargay and forced coach Bill Laimbeer to call a timeout to settle his team down. After the timeout Sugar Rodgers then Tanisha Wright hit back-to-back 3’s to bring the home team to within 2 the comeback was on. Candice Dupree answered right back for the Mercury after their timeout as she hit a jumper to give her team a 4-point lead with 3:22 remaining. Dupree was clutch in the 4th every time the Liberty came close to tying the game or taking the lead she hit a shot to put a stop to any comeback plans.

 

“Diana Taurasi…she’s the GOAT so its great to have her on your team..” – Coach Sandy Brondello

The Mercury won the game playing just 7 players tonight as coach Sandy Brondello shortened her rotation and played her more experienced players big minutes. Though an eight seed Phoenix has a very talented roster and have seemed to found a rhythm in the playoffs. Diana Taurasi finished with 30-points, she was 4-8 from behind the arc and heated up in the second half to lead her team. Brittney Griner had a great game; she posted a double double with 22-points and 10 rebounds and led the team offensively while Diana sat. Penny Taylor and the Mercury extended her career for at least a few more games as they now head into a 5-game series with the defending champion Minnesota Lynx in the semis. Taylor finished with 20-points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Tanisha Wright finished with 21-points on 10-14 shooting from the field as she led the Liberty in scoring.

 

“Our effort was there, we didn’t play badly..” – Coach Laimbeer

With this loss the Liberty’s amazing season came to an end, Swin Cash’s career came to an end and the team’s hopes for a title came to an end. A teary eye Swin walked of the court for the last time as the home crowd cheered for her, acknowledging everything she has accomplished in her professional career in the WNBA. Tina had a marvelous season, an MVP type season however this loss didn’t deter her confidence. She wants to continue to grow during the off-season and come back strong next season. Sugar Rodgers added 11-points as she was one of six Liberty players in double figures.

 

The WNBA Playoffs continue however the Liberty season comes to an end. Good luck next season ladies. It was a pleasure covering you this season.

Thank You for reading

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Email: shermangmz1@gmail.com

All Photos and Video : Sherman Gomez for PureSportsNY

 

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