NEW YORK (AP) After seeing his team struggle to score lately, Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer wanted to try and get a more uptempo offense.
So he inserted Bria Hartley back into the starting lineup for Sugar Rodgers. The move worked.
Hartley scored 15 points to help New York beat the short-handed Washington Mystics 85-55 on Sunday.
”We’ve been kicking it around for the last two games,” Laimbeer said about the lineup switch. ”We felt we needed to get more easy baskets because we were struggling offensively. … Positive reinforcement is a great thing. It worked.”
Rodgers added 14 points coming off the bench for the Liberty (9-9), who jumped out to a 16-point lead at the end of the first quarter. The Mystics, who were missing star Elena Delle Donne because of right ankle injury, couldn’t get into a flow offensively.
”We missed a lot of open looks,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. ”We just couldn’t knock them down today for whatever reason.”
Hartley, who had just 13 points combined the previous five games, hit six of her 10 shots against her former team. The Mystics traded Hartley and Kia Vaughn to the Liberty before the season started.
”Everyone says when you playy our old team you have to play really well or show out a little bit,” Hartley said with a smile. ”Maybe it’s most of my life I’ve been a starter, so that’s what I’m used to. I’ve always struggled coming off the bench a little bit. Whatever opportunities I’m given, I’m going to take.”
New York led by 16 at the half and put it away in the third quarter.
Emma Meesseman scored 19 points to lead the Mystics (11-9).
BANGED UP MYSTICS :
Besides missing Delle Donne, Washington was without guard Tayler Hill, who tore the ACL in her right knee in Friday’s win over Indiana. Hill injured her knee with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter. The fourth pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, Hill was averaging 13.3 points and 2.6 assists this season for Washington.
MIXING THINGS UP:
New York inserted Hartley into the starting lineup for Rodgers to try and spark the play of the reserves. The Liberty reserves came into the game averaging just 14.8 points – last in the league. New York’s bench had 41 points.
Mystics: Washington heads home to play Atlanta on Wednesday in its final game before the All-Star break.
Liberty: New York finishes up a three-game homestand playing Connecticut on Wednesday morning.