Takeaways: Liberty fall to Seattle, tempers reach peak

Again, consistency, or lack thereof, hurt the New York Liberty as they fell to 77-62 to the Seattle Storm. Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd led all scorers with 21 points each.  Liberty forward Tina Charles was held to her lowest tally of the season.

The frustration of the Liberty seems to have reached its boiling points. Shavonte Zellous, Brittany Boyd, and head coach Katie Smith were all assessed technical fouls in the game.

Head in the game?

The biggest takeaway is one that is not surprising. Unfortunately, a lack of focus has been a staple of this New York Liberty team. That was something the team had in spurts against Chicago in the home-and-home series.  After shoot-around today, team leader Tina Charles credited the stretches of success to “zoning in and getting better at the thing’s Katie [Smith] wants us to get better at.”

She added that the team has worked to slow things down, take more ownership, and concentrate on one possession at a time. “I think everybody’s taking it personal. We only have about 18 games left and we want to make that playoff run.”

Hartley reaches 1,000 

Coming into the game, starting guard Bria Hartley needed only 14 points to reach 1,000 career buckets. Hartley has averaged eight points per game this season, with her highest tally (18 points) coming against the Phoenix Mercury last month. She got 14 points in the fourth quarter alone and finished with 16 buckets, just two shy of her season high.

Kia Vaughn, Amanda Zahui B. step up

So much of what the Liberty does comes through the veteran Charles. She scored a season-low eight points in the loss to Seattle.

“I thought Seattle, for the most part, made her work and put a lot of people around her,” said Smith. Tonight, Charles went 3-14 from the field and was 1-2 behind the arc. The aforementioned Hartley and Vaughn led starters in points. Amanda Zahui B. contributed 13 points and four boards in roughly 19 minutes of work. Vaughn has tallied 10-plus points in three of the last four Liberty wins.

“It’s not enough, obviously,” said the 10-year league veteran in the locker room after the game. “Just gotta do more. We all need to do more individually. That’s just where it’s at right now.”

So, what can be said or done at this point?

It’s a mix of keeping it real and building on the positives. “We just have too many things that we’re doing that are putting us in a hole and hurting us,” said Smith.

Vaughn added, “As a professional, you just have to say what needs to be said. And, as a professional, you understand it’s coming from a good place. Because, at the end, it is our jobs. So, we have to get it done no matter who it is, what it is–just gotta get it done.”

The Liberty drops to 5-12 ahead of their rematch with the Washington Mystics on Thursday, July 5. While the heartbreaking loss to the Mystics at the buzzer is likely on the minds of the team, of more importance is remaining focused on Liberty basketball.

“We are a good basketball team,” said Zahui B. “We can’t focus on what [the other team] is doing but focus on us instead.”