If history was an accurate guide, the team scoring 80 points or more in last night's contest between the WNBA's New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks would win the game. In their two prior meetings this season, the team scoring 80 or more was the hands-down winner. In this, the third match-up between the two teams this season, a preseason game on May 8th won by the Liberty 81-75, and a regular season game on June 24th won by Los Angeles 54-80, history was not a completely accurate predictor. In a tightly contested battle, both teams beat the four-score mark with the Sparks prevailing over the Liberty 82-81. In front of a sell-out crowd at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY, the teams put on quite a show as the lead switched back-and-forth twelve times with the winner emerging in the final seconds.
Above: The sell out crowd filing in to watch the NY Liberty take on the LA Sparks. Photo Credit W. Rosenberg.
New York’s Tina Charles led all scorers with 27 points, adding six boards and a pair of blocks as well. It was the veteran’s 14th game this season scoring 20 or more. Rebecca Allen set a new season-high with 13 points in the contest, 12 of which came in the first half. The guard shot over 70 percent from the field.
Above: New York's Tina Charles works her way to being the games high scorer. Photo Credit W. Rosenberg
The contest featured Liberty players donning pink apparel and special uniforms in honor of breast health awareness. Once again, Tina Charles used the evening to announce yet another personal contribution, this time to support breast cancer research. Present courtside among those taking in the game were the New York Knicks forward/guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. and former New Jersey Nets guard Otis Birdsong.
Above: Taking in the game were the NY Knicks Tim Hardaway Jr (left) and former NJ Net, Otis Birdsong (right). Photo Credit W. Rosenberg
Of particular note was the performance of one member of each team, playing against their former teammates on the County Center court. Los Angeles Sparks guard, Essence Carson (#17), a local player out of Patterson, NJ and Rutgers University, was drafted by the Liberty in 2008 and played in New York through the 2015 season before joining the Sparks. New York’s guard, Marissa Coleman (#0), had previously been with the L.A. Sparks for a brief time during the 2012 season before finding her way to the Liberty. Essence Carson was the clear winner in this head-to-head battle scoring 10 points over the course of her 25 minutes in the game. Marissa Coleman was held scoreless over her 10 minutes of playing time attempting only one field goal in the game.
Above: LA Sparks' Essence Carson. Photo Credit W. Rosenberg
Below: NY Liberty's Marissa Coleman Photo Credit W. Rosenberg
There was great optimism among the Liberty fans in the closing minutes of the game where it looked like New York would bring its seven game losing streak to an end, but tough play on the part of Los Angeles, and some missed opportunities by the Liberty, sealed their fate. In her post-game comments, Liberty Coach Katie Smith was upbeat but her frustration did show through. “It’s decent. I think today was good. We want to contest on defense just like other teams. We want to play our personnel. You have to run shooters off the line; you have to know who they are. I thought our personnel on defense was better tonight. So, I thought today was an excellent effort by us.”
Above: The late game frustration showed on the Liberty bench. Photo Credit W. Rosenberg
The teams have one more regular season game scheduled on August 14th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.