Liberty rally in fourth quarter, but lose to fever in OT

Liberty rally in fourth quarter, but lose to fever in OT

The effort was there.

So, too, were the execution, experience and poise.

The result, however, was not, as the Liberty suffered a 92-86 overtime loss to the Indiana Fever on Friday night at Barclays Center.

Sabrina Ionescu had 31 points for the Liberty (1-2). Betnijah Laney added 16 and Stefanie Dolson had 12.

Indiana was led by Kelsey Mitchell’s 24 points and Victoria Vivians’ 20.

The Liberty entered the fourth quarter trailing by 10 points, but Ionescu hit a three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation to tie the score at 76 and force overtime.

During her pregame availability with reporters, coach Sandy Brondello spoke unequivocally about her disappointment with the team after the 83-50 blowout loss to the Sky in Chicago on Wednesday.

“None of it was acceptable,” Brondello said. “It wasn’t very good, but it was a good learning experience for us to say this is not who we are.”

So Indiana (3-3) presented an immediate opportunity for a reset of sorts, even if Brondello was concerned about the Liberty getting caught up in a track meet with the Fever.

‘Indiana is athletic,’ she said. “They’re aggressive. They’re everywhere. . . We want to have pace but we don’t want to play at their speed the whole time.”

Which is exactly what took place in the third quarter. The Liberty missed 15 of 17 shots in the quarter and committed four turnovers in allowing the fever to turn a 41-41 halftime tie into a 58-48 lead entering the fourth quarter.

But there would not be a complete collapse this time.

The Liberty opened the fourth quarter with a 21-9 run, taking a 69-67 lead on Laney’s wide-open corner three-pointer in front of the Liberty bench with 4:18 left in regulation.

Indiana responded by scoring the next seven points to take a 74-69 lead. Dolson and Sami Whitcomb each hit a layup to cut the deficit to one, but Mitchell knocked down two free throws with 20.2 seconds left to extend Indiana’s lead to 76-73.

After a timeout, Ionescu drilled a three-pointer to send the game to overtime.

The Fever outscored the Liberty 8-2 in the first 3:03 of the extra period, but Laney made two free throws and knocked down a 15-foot pull-up jumper before Ionescu’s layup tied the score at 84.

But Danielle Robinson, Vivians and Mitchell ended any hopes the Liberty had of leaving with a win. Robinson scored five of her 17 points immediately after Ionescu’s layup to give the Fever an 89-86 lead. Vivians’ free throw extended the lead to four, and Mitchell’s two made free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining ended the scoring.

The Liberty will host Dallas on Sunday and will conclude their three-game homestand Tuesday against Connecticut.

nGriner awaits trial

WNBA star Brittney Griner had her pretrial detention in Russia extended by one month Friday, her lawyer said.

Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press that he thinks the relatively short extension indicates that Griner’s case will go to trial soon.

— AP


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