With the New York Liberty looking to keep afloat while they have multiple players out for a variety of reasons, they had a great chance to get a win against a fellow struggling/rebuilding team in the Dallas Wings, despite New York only having eight active players for the contest.
It was a battle between the two teams, but New York ended up slinking away with a 69-68 win, despite giving Dallas multiple chances to steal the game. Previously struggling with providing Tina Charles help, the rest of the starting five stepped up collectively, with four members scoring in double figures.
Asia Durr showed flashes of her potential with 14 points. Kia Nurse continued to showcase her value this season with 17 points, six rebounds, and four assists, and Brittany Boyd filled the stat sheet in a variety of categories with seven points, rebounds, and assists.
The most impressive part of the Liberty’s victory was their post play. Since joining the starting lineup, Reshanda Gray has exceeded most people’s expectations, as she chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds. Last, but not least, the anchor of it all, Tina Charles, had 15 points and nine rebounds on her own.
The Liberty also had good fortune from the Wings, whose point guard Arike Ogunbowale went an abysmal 2-for-23 from the field.
As always, what were three things that we learned from this high intensity game?
Reshanda Gray’s dynamic season
At the beginning of the WNBA year, the front court was already a concern for the New York Liberty. When you take into account the lack of readiness from rookie Han Xu, an injury to Rebecca Allen, and the infamous EuroBasket that has been mentioned often on this site, there has not been much stability from that spot.
However, Reshanda Gray has been a constant through it all for the Liberty. After taking the last two WNBA seasons off to play overseas, Gray returned to New York for 2019 and has made her mark.
In only 16.2 minutes per game, Gray is averaging 5.8 points and a whopping 5.9 rebounds per game. Simply put, she is a double-double machine, and her performance from Friday night only enhanced the claim.
Even when the lack of depth clears up, coach Katie Smith should seriously be looking at giving Gray more time on the court.
Arike Ogunbowale’s horrific shooting
It was definitely conceivable for the Liberty to win this game. The key was to stop Wings point Ogunbowale, one of the bright young stars of this game.
However, if someone just turned on this game without any other prior WNBA experience, they might be wondering what she was even doing on the floor.
Ogunbowale shot 2-for-23 from the field, the worst performance for a WNBA player with more than 20 shot attempts, per the WNBA website.
Since the final score was so close, the Liberty should be thanking Ogunbowale for her well timed slump.
Reinforcements on the way?
The lack of depth available for the Liberty has been well documented, and it was even more apparent tonight, with New York only dressing eight players.
While it was not necessary for tonight’s game per se, taking a load off the Liberty’s starters could provide to be a boon in the future. And it looks like the Liberty did get their wish granted.
Avery Warley-Talbert, signed with the team after New York was granted a hardship waiver. Warley-Talbert was on the Liberty’s pre-season roster, so her familiarity with the system might allow her to have a more seamless transition to most.
Coach Katie Smith on today’s win:
“I’m glad we got the W. We got a lot of contribution from a lot of people. The tone was set on how aggressive Tina Charles was on the offensive end. The way she attacked set the tone for us and created a lot of opportunities for others.”
Coach Katie on Asia Durr:
“I thought Asia’s defense tonight was the best she has done all year. She did a nice job tonight and keeping eye on the ball. She showed she was tired of getting scored on!”
Coach Katie on Reshanda Gray:
“She was imposing her will. She was rebounding! She’s a force to be reckon with and she’s been working on her finishing. She definitely had pressure on tonight’s defense.”
Coach Katie on defense:
“We had to make sure we had our coverage right. Especially rebounding. We made sure we knew how to guard things and made sure we helped everywhere we can and finishing the play and locking in.”
Coach Charmin Smith on working with New York Liberty:
“This has been an amazing experience. I especially learned from Katie. The way she draws up plays in game is amazing. We were able to execute. I would not be prepared for my next step as head coach if I didn’t have these two months with the Liberty.”
Brittany Boyd on contributing across the board:
“I just thought it was important for us to get a win. For me it’s just important to be consistent and play well every night for a starting point guard. Tanisha wasn’t here, so somebody had to step up as far as being vocal and doing all the little things that she would do if she was here tonight.”
Tina Charles on team W :
“Everybody that stepped on the court tonight provided what we needed. Yesterday we were able to go over what our roles are for this team and everyone collectively accomplished that. I had a feeling that Arike was going to try to take the last shot and we knew we were switching. Boyd did a great job calling out the switch, so I was able to get a hand in front of her for the stop”
Kia Nurse on Reshanda Gray’s performance:
“It’s been great playing with her. Gray is an absolute spark plug in everything that she does, whether it be offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding and just making energy plays that change the momentum of the game. When you play with someone like that who’s excited to do that, who gets excited for her teammate the way she does, that’s something really fun to play with and I feel really privileged to be a part of that.”
Asia Durr on Charmin Smith’s impact on her:
“She has left a huge impact on me. Smith has been awesome, she has been teaching me the game, and teaching me to be patient. Coach Smith has a great impact on me, with pointing things out about how you see the game, and she sees things in the game differently. She is very detailed, and I respect that about her. Staying with her and learning from her has helped me slow down the game.”