The New York Liberty won their first game before hitting a wall against the top two teams in the WNBA.
Following losses to the league’s conference leaders, the Liberty will try to get back in the win column Tuesday night against the Seattle Storm at Madison Square Garden.
New York (1-2) cruised to a 21-point win at Connecticut in its season opener before losing to East-leading Chicago and defending champion Minnesota, which both opened 4-0.
The Liberty shot just 36.2 percent against the Sky’s tough defense before being outgunned by Maya Moore and the high-scoring Lynx in an 87-82 loss Saturday.
Tina Charles had 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Cappie Pondexter added 18 points and Essence Carson 14 for New York, which could not contain Moore as she became the first WNBA player to score at least 30 points in four straight games.
"I thought we competed hard," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "If we play that engaged throughout the course of the season we’re going to win a lot of basketball games."
New York now looks for its first win at the Garden since the 2010 season. The loss to Chicago spoiled the Liberty’s return to the famed arena after they played in Newark, N.J., the last three years while it underwent a major renovation.
The Liberty have won three straight against the Storm (1-3), who stumbled through three consecutive losses before getting their first win Saturday, 73-65 at Washington.
Sue Bird hit a key 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining to help Seattle avoid its second 0-4 start. The veteran point guard, who missed all of last season with a knee problem, had season highs of 16 points and five assists.
"That’s the Sue that we know right there," coach Brian Agler said. "We’ve seen that multiple times (over the years). It’s almost surprising when you don’t see it."
This game marks a homecoming of sorts for Bird, a New York native who hasn’t played at the Garden since the Storm won 92-84 on June 18, 2010. Bird, who has won five times in eight career trips to the Garden, had a solid game that day with 22 points and 10 assists.
"Growing up in New York I always associated the Garden with professional basketball," Bird told the Liberty’s official website. "Literally, for me, it is the Mecca."
Bird and Charles also have a unique connection. Both attended Christ The King High School in Queens before going on to celebrated college careers at UConn.
"We went to the same high school and same college – we kinda share in that," Bird said of Charles. "She’s been my teammate with USA basketball. Tina has this relentlessness about her. No matter what’s going on she brings what she’s going to bring. She’s almost a guaranteed double-double."
Bird certainly has her numbers right: Charles is averaging 16.0 points and 11.7 rebounds so far in her first season with the Liberty.