The New York Liberty’s return to the WNBA semifinals got off to a challenging start due to a standout performance by DeWanna Bonner and Bec Allen seeking revenge.
Despite overcast skies in New York City, the Connecticut Sun brought the brightness on Sunday. However, the New York Liberty’s hopes were dampened within the confines of the Barclays Center.
New York’s entry into the WNBA semifinals began on a disappointing note as they lost the first game of the best-of-five series to the Connecticut Sun with a final score of 78-63.
Jonquel Jones, who arrived from Connecticut in a three-team trade this offseason, led the Liberty with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Interestingly, it was the first time the Liberty had lost a game when Jones achieved a triple-double.
Rebounding played a crucial role for Connecticut, which had lost all four regular-season games against New York. Several players from the New England team secured at least five rebounds, with notable performances from DeWanna Bonner and Bec Allen.
While MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas struggled (4-of-11 from the field with three turnovers), her partner DeWanna Bonner stepped up with 20 points. Right behind her was former New Yorker Bec Allen, contributing 18 points and showcasing versatility with seven boards, two blocks, and two steals. Allen, who had been the longest-serving player on the Liberty, was part of the trade for Jones.
Connecticut’s strong defensive effort paved the way for their victory. Although the Liberty held a narrow halftime lead of 40-37, they could only muster 23 points in the final 20 minutes. New York improved their three-point shooting compared to their previous game against Washington but still needed 27 attempts to reach their mark. Breanna Stewart, with 19 points, led the Liberty but had eight unsuccessful three-point attempts.
Stewart, Sabrina Ionescu, and Betnijah Laney struggled collectively, shooting 12-of-48 from the field. However, Ionescu managed to make an impact with her free throws, accumulating 20 points in her Liberty playoff career.
The Liberty will aim to get their championship journey back on track when they face off against the Sun in Game 2 at Barclays Center on Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET).