A bittersweet win for the New York Liberty against the Atlanta Dream on Sunday at State Farm Arena, ending the WNBA regular season.
“I think we battled, it’s similar to what we did all year,” said Katie Smith, Head Coach of the New York Liberty. “I thought we came out today with a lot of energy [and] just kind of competed.”
The Liberty beat the Dream 71-63, but neither team seemed happy with the outcome of a closed 2018-2019 season sans invitations to the WNBA Play-offs.
“It was bittersweet, we wanted to make it to the playoffs,” said Forward, Tina Charles, “Disappointing, but overall, just happy Tanisha Wright was able to go out. She’s retiring.”
Wright averaged 4.6 points per, game this season after being traded from Minnesota to the Liberty in early April this year. Inexchange, New York squired for a second round pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft Lottery. The Brooklyn native embraced her teammates with hugs and good vibes post game.
“I am taking everything day by day,” Wright, #30, answered. “It was the end of the season, you know, not making the playoffs, [it’s] bittersweet.”
Atlanta Dream Head Coach Nicki Collen cites poor shooting for loss to the Liberty.
“Was that not a microcosm in one game of what our season has looked like,” Collen remarked. “We just didn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Although the Liberty out-shot the Dream by only four, Liberty took almost double the shots Atlanta took inside the paint, 40-22.
The Dream end with a lack luster record of 8-26, a complete opposite from the 23-11 team that took the WNBA by storm last season.
Injuries taking out star defender and small forward, Angel McCoughtry and guard, Tiffany Hayes, left the Atlanta Dream vulnerable to missed defensive rebounds and giving up points in the paint.
“[It] Certainly hurts us not having Angel’s size and rebounding, because our defensive rebounding percentage was pretty abysmal all year,” Collen said.
McCoughtry averaged 6 rebounds per game and had three double-doubles recorded before finishing with season ending knee injury against Las Vegas that would keep her from playing all of 2018-2019.
“Having an extra rebounder in your small forward is really important,” added Collen. “[Brittany] Sykes did that at times, and other times she didn’t. That was pretty much a consistent with Angel.”
Sykes mentioned she kept her focus on attacking the basket and getting the ball to open teammates for her game plan versus New York.
“We missed a couple shots,” she said. “My game plan was to come in and be aggressive and just be strong with the ball.”
Sykes ended the game with 12 point and 1 assist. Although she will be busy with international play during the offseason, Sykes is confident and remains positive for next season.
“It was a lot of lessons. It sucks that we had so many losses but at the same time, it’s only up from here in our mindset.”
Although both teams are heading back to the drawing board and awaiting the 2020 WNBA Draft Lottery, each took home a new personal record. Forward Elizabeth Williams helped set Atlanta’s franchise record for blocks at 182. The Liberty broke its own franchise record of assists with 20 assists, setting the record to 633.