On Sunday, the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces met for the third and final time of the 2019 season. While the Liberty won the first meeting, the two subsequent ones have been disasters, with New York losing 100-65 on June 14th and following that up with Sunday’s 90-58 loss.
The Liberty struggled once again to contain Las Vegas’ interior options, with A’ja Wilson putting up 12 points while Liz Cambage went for 21 points and 11 rebounds. With New York missing their best defensive bigs, the Aces were able to take full advantage. New York never led in the game.
Tina Charles was the only Liberty player to score in double figures, scoring 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting. Kia Nurse was just 1-for-13 from the field the field, finishing with six points.
Tanisha Wright moved up to 11th on the league’s all-time assist list, passing Dawn Staley and Teresa Weatherspoon.
There’s not too many positives to take from this game, but the Liberty have made it through the EuroBasket part of the calendar and begin getting their players back this week. Amanda Zahui B is currently stuck in an airport in Serbia but should be back on Monday. Tiffany Bias has been waived to create room for the returning players, and at least one more player will need to be waived as well to make room for Kiah Stokes, who didn’t open the year with New York. Two will have to be waived if Marine Johannes comes over.
New York faces the Chicago Sky on the road on Friday, where they’ll look to get back to their winning ways.
Han Xu minutes
Because we’ve got to look at something from this game, let’s look at Han Xu. The rookie played 12 minutes, scoring seven points and grabbing three rebounds. She had a block as well.
Offensively, Han showed off her jumper:
On this play, we get to see her in the midrange game, as she pops that ball right into the bucket. The Liberty run this play here where Han gets the ball from Tanisha Wright, who then slides around behind Han, causing her defender to have to run in between Han and A’ja Wilson. This creates just enough separation for Han to get to smooth jumper off.
That Wright and Han connection didn’t end there.
Here, Han gets open on the perimeter for the three. Wright starts to drive and the Aces defense goes with her, leaving Han in a spot to make the catch-and-shoot three. Wilson does her best to get back to her defensively, but she’d been taken so far into the paint by Wright that there just wasn’t anything that could really be done there.
Han also looked strong defensively. I don’t have video clips, but in the third quarter she did a good job reacting to a Vegas drive and records a block, and overall she did a good job of staying with her player. She caused Dearica Hamby to travel at one point and put herself in spots to get rebounds. I’m not saying that Han is going to change the shape of this defense or anything, but she looked playable on that end while also providing a spark offensively.
Coach Katie Smith on Han Xu:
“I thought she held her own on the defensive end. I thought she did a good job on Cambage…I’ve told you guys from the jump, the kid can score, looks to score and can shoot it. On the offensive end, she’s very smooth, understands, and can put the ball in the hole so I think she did fine tonight. Rebounded okay and she had solid minutes.”
Coach Katie on Vegas’ defense:
“The last two games, they bullied us. We didn’t handle it. We can handle that pressure. We can find things we can dictate, but they made us turn it over, they made us cough it up, and we weren’t strong enough with the basketball.”
Coach Katie on team effort:
“I just wasn’t pleased with the effort we had on both ends. Yes, we want to win games, but the way you win and lose is also something and I wasn’t really pleased today with overall effort from top to bottom.”
Coach Katie on team defense:
“When we put out the effort on the defensive end, when we’re bringing it, that’s when we are successful. But that can’t waver, that’s something that we’ve got to do every single night. We don’t score as well as a lot of other people, so we have to be locked in on the defensive end to give ourselves a chance to be in ball games and that’s our lot right now, that’s who we are.”
Coach Katie on next game:
“We’ll get after our defense, obviously execution, handling pressure as well, but yeah we’re going to get after it on the defensive end, again that’s something we have to hang our hat on and obviously execution on offense and all the little things setting screens, using screens, handling pressure. Basic stuff that at the end of the day, wins and loses ball games.”
Tina Charles on big factors in today’s loss:
“Cambage, she asserted herself early, McBride as well. We allowed her to get whatever she wanted, and she went on a roll after that. Those were the two main keys for us, and our effort just wasn’t there as it was in those three games that we won. We didn’t match our effort like we did on the road. The way the starting five began that game defensively, offensively and mentally, we were just out of it.”
Kia Nurse on team’s growth:
“We’ve learned that everyone has a role, and everybody can step up if something happens to one of our players or someone gets sick. We know that we can come out and fight, that way we will give ourselves a winning chance. Moving forward, every game is a new game, and you try to win every game.”