The New York Liberty likely can’t afford another horrendous performance if they hope to finish off a run to their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons.
Coming off the worst offensive showing in franchise history, the Liberty will try to bounce back with their sixth win in seven home games Friday night against the Eastern Conference-worst Connecticut Sun.
A week after knocking off Washington at home, New York (12-16) missed an opportunity to move past the Mystics in the conference standings with an embarrassing 79-46 road loss Tuesday.
Tina Charles finished with 10 points – the only Liberty player in double figures – as New York shot 28.8 percent from the field and missed all seven of its 3-point attempts en route to the fewest points in the team’s 18-year history.
The Liberty missed 13 consecutive field-goal attempts during a near nine-minute scoreless stretch in the first half before Washington outscored them 27-13 in the third quarter.
"We have our moments like this throughout the course of the year where we just collectively don’t play," said coach Bill Laimbeer, whose club had won eight of its previous 12 games.
New York, which missed the postseason for the first time in four years in 2013 after finishing 11-23, dropped out of an East postseason spot while falling 1 1/2 games back of the second-place Mystics.
With three games left against playoff-hopeful Indiana, one more with Washington and another versus WNBA-best Phoenix, the Liberty will try to take advantage of a matchup with the struggling Sun (11-19).
New York should be able to regroup offensively as it looks to win the season series after the rivals split the first four meetings. The Sun rank ninth in the WNBA defensively, giving up 78.6 points per game.
Connecticut has dropped 13 of 16 after an 82-66 home loss to Chicago on Tuesday.
The Sun are hoping to have leading scorer and rebounder Chiney Ogwumike back after she sat Tuesday following a dental procedure. The rookie forward has averaged 18.3 points and 9.7 boards in her three meetings with the Liberty.
New York’s Tina Charles is the only player in the WNBA who ranks among the top five in scoring and rebounding with a career-high 18.1 points and 9.8 boards per game. The MVP candidate, though, has fallen short of those marks in three of the four matchups against her former team.
Cappie Pondexter, who had four points on 2-of-11 shooting Tuesday, hopes to get back on track by continuing her success against Connecticut. The veteran guard is averaging 18.0 points – 4.1 above her season mark – in the season series.