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Liberty look to beat Mystics for third straight time

Sportsnaut
Jun 1, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA;  New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Playing the Washington Mystics is one of the few things that has gone well for the New York Liberty this season.

The visiting Liberty look to improve to 3-0 against the Mystics in 2022 when they meet for a midday game on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

“For us, it doesn’t matter morning, night, we have to come out and compete for 40 minutes,” New York guard Sabrina Ionescu said of the early matinee.

The Liberty (9-16) will be playing their second straight game with a scheduled 11:30 a.m. tipoff after Tuesday’s 82-63 loss at Connecticut. New York has a four-game losing streak.

The Mystics (16-11) are striving for more consistency, and perhaps they’ve found it at the defensive end.

“Chemistry is one of the toughest things,” Mystics center Elizabeth Williams said. “When you talk about championship teams, that is a big identifier. I think we’re building chemistry defensively. Offensively, we’re still getting there. But I’d rather it be in that order. We’re going to continue to figure each other out.”

Washington coach Mike Thibault said some of the team’s best players are missing shots that they normally should be able to make.

“We got the ball where we wanted it to go most of the time,” Thibault said of Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Lynx. “We’re not shooting particularly great.”

Still, Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 22 points and eight rebounds per game.

The Liberty beat the Mystics 74-70 on June 3 in Washington and again by 77-65 in a rematch June 16 in New York.

Otherwise, there haven’t been many bright spots.

“Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, because we turn the ball over,” New York coach Sandy Brondello said. “It’s mind boggling, because we don’t need to. That’s deflating when they’re getting such easy baskets and it’s hard for us to score. We need all our best players to play well to win.”

Brondello said forward Michaela Onyenwere was unavailable in Tuesday’s game because of an injury.

“Hopefully it’s a day-to-day. Hopefully she’ll be OK by Thursday,” Brondello said. “We need her. She has been a bright spot for us.”

The Liberty turned to a zone defense in the second half of Tuesday’s game and that worked well for stretches, so it could be something used again. New York’s Rebecca Allen recorded her 100th career blocked shot in the Connecticut game.

Since their last game, the Mystics signed Evina Westbrook to a contract that extends for the remainder of the season.

–Field Level Media