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Liberty Defeat Mystics in an Overtime Thriller to Sweep First in Playoffs Series

The New York Liberty worked overtime Tuesday night to secure a hard-fought 90-85 victory over the Washington Mystics at Barclays Center.
Natasha Cloud guards Sabrina Ionescu, capturing the sheer grit and intensity of this second game in the playoffs series. 

The New York Liberty worked overtime to secure a hard-fought 90-85 victory over the Washington Mystics Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

The series win put the Liberty into the WNBA Semifinals for the first time since 2015, but New York needed an overtime period to earn the win.

Breanna Stewart had a team-high 27 points to lead Liberty, who used a balanced attack to stave off the Mystics, which were led by fiery point guard Natasha Cloud and her game-high 33 points.

Cloud erupted for 11 points in the first quarter on 4-6 shooting, including 3-3 from the 3-point line, as the Mystics pushed to get the series back to Washington, D.C., for a tie-breaker game.

Cloud played tough defense on Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who had been hitting 46% of her 3-point shots since the Commissioner’s Cup game, but tallied just 2 points in the opening quarter.

Liberty Center Jonquel Jones shoots as the Mystics defense collapses around her.  Photo: NY Liberty/Brandon Todd.

Stewart's 11 points and Betnijah Laney's 8 points accounted for nearly all of the Liberty’s 21 points in the first quarter. New York was effective down low, scoring 16 paint points in the first quarter while struggling with the deep ball, hitting just 20% of their 3-point shots.

The contest was a game of momentum swings. The Liberty peeled off extended runs in regulation, starting with a 17-7 run from the 6:11 mark of the first to the 1:43 mark of the first quarter and a 15-6 run to close the second quarter, giving New York a 46-35 lead at the half. 

Washington went on a 23-9 run from the 4:20 mark of the third quarter to the 3:56 mark of the fourth quarter and led 71-65 going into the final minutes of regulation.

Washington went on a 23-9 run from the 4:20 mark of the third quarter to the 3:56 mark of the fourth quarter and led 71-65 going into the final minutes of regulation. 

At 27 seconds left in the game, Liberty forward Jonquel Jones made an errant pass that was stolen by Cloud. Then Jones fouled Cloud, who then knocked down both free throws and gave the Mystics a 76-74 lead. 

The fourth quarter saw five lead changes, with the outcome still in doubt before Jones knocked down two free throws with :11.3 seconds on the clock, which made the score 76-76, ultimately sending the game to overtime.

“I had to redeem myself after turning the ball over," Jones said.

The overtime period featured three lead changes and was closed out with 6 made free throws by Stewart as the boisterous, sold-out crowd of more than 9,000 people chanted "MVP!" while she was at the foul line, scoring the final points to make it 90-85.

It was an intense game with fierce defense. “It definitely got spicy,” Stewart said.

Jonquel Jones had her second consecutive double-double this postseason with 19 points and 14 rebounds and played stout defense on Elena Delle Donne, holding her to 11 points on 4-16 shooting. Courtney Vandersloot contributed a game-high 10 assists.

The Liberty will play either the third-seeded Connecticut Sun or the sixth-seeded Minnesota Lynx in the first semifinal game at 1:00pm on Sept. 24 at Barclays Center. 

Richard Burroughs

About the Author: Richard Burroughs

Richard Burroughs is a Brooklyn-based sportswriter and sports enthusiast covering the Brooklyn Nets and the NY Liberty for BK Reader, where he also writes editorial content.
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