(AP) – Epiphanny Prince will finally get to play for her hometown team, the New York Liberty.
Prince is back after missing the first 10 games of the regular season while she was competing for Russia in the EuroBasket tournament. The Liberty held their own without the New York native whom they acquired in a blockbuster offseason from Chicago for Cappie Pondexter. New York (6-4) is tied with Washington for second place in the Eastern Conference.
”I’m happy to be back here and hope that I can provide them some help,” Prince said at practice Monday. ”I’m still trying to learn the plays and know we have a busy month ahead.”
Prince tried to play in the Liberty’s most recent game, at Chicago on June 30, but wasn’t feeling well after the long trip from Hungary.
Fortunately for Prince and the Liberty, due to a scheduling quirk, the team will have had nine days between the Chicago game and Thursday’s game against the Mystics. The break has come at a good time to allow Prince to become accustomed to her new team.
”We got a little practice time with her to get her up to speed,” coach Bill Laimbeer said. ”I think we need the other scorer, no question about that. Getting Piph, she can make things happen on the basketball court.”
Prince did play with the team in the preseason for five days before heading to the tournament. The two-time All-Star will have to wait until next week before she gets a chance to play at Madison Square Garden as the Liberty continue a stretch with seven of nine on the road.
Tina Charles led New York to its third win in four games June 30, posting 26 points and 11 rebounds in an 89-81 victory at Chicago. She finished with 18 points in a 67-62 loss in the nation’s capital on June 6, but struggled with six on 3-of-17 shooting in a 74-59 home loss to Washington on June 14.
The Mystics seek their third straight home win, though they’ve dropped two of three overall following last Thursday’s 73-50 road loss to Indiana. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Stefanie Dolson led the way with 12 points apiece in the team’s most lopsided loss of the season.
Washington, which had averaged 81.6 points in its previous five games, put up just 16 in the second half and shot 18.6 percent over the final three quarters.
Emma Meesseman finished with nine points after scoring 18.6 per game over her previous five. The All-Star candidate led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds in the first matchup with New York, but only scored two on 1-of-6 shooting June 14.
"I know what I have to do without being too scared to do it," Meesseman told the team’s official website. "I know that (coach Mike Thibault) has confidence in me so it boosts my confidence when doing stuff on the court. And I think I’m just getting stronger physically as I grow older, that’s a big thing."