New York will look to get off to a faster start, build on the momentum it forged in its most recent game, and post its first road win of the year when the Liberty battle the winless Indiana Fever on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, the Fever are just looking to find a way to break into the win column. Indiana (0-5) and Las Vegas (0-4) are the only teams without a victory through the first two-plus weeks of the WNBA season.
The Liberty got 34 points and 10 rebounds from star guard Tina Charles to roar from behind to stun the Dallas Wings 94-89 on Tuesday at home in their most recent game, claiming their first win of the season in the process.
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New York trailed by 17 points in the first quarter and by nine entering the final 10 minutes of play before sprinting past the weary Wings down the stretch, with Charles pouring in 18 points in the fourth quarter.
Shavonte Zellous added 19 points and nine assists for New York (1-2), and Marissa Coleman and Kia Nurse had 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Liberty.
New York coach Katie Smith said she’s happy with the direction her team is going.
“There’s a consistency of how we are doing things,” Smith said. “Running the basketball, pushing tempo on teams. We are gradually getting there, and there’s lots of little things we can improve on. And all of us, coaches, players everything we are feeling each other out.”
Charles leads the Liberty and the WNBA in scoring at 23.7 points per game. Still, a key for New York against Indiana will be the matchup between Charles and Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell.
Nurse’s 14.0 points per game off the bench lead the Liberty’s reserves and Mitchell is scoring at a 16.8-point clip, a figure that paces the Fever. Moreover, Mitchell is shooting .405 from behind the arc. Her 15 makes more than double any player on the Liberty roster.
Indiana fell to 0-5 with its 86-77 loss to Connecticut Sun on May 26, which concluded a brutal stretch of five games in eight days to begin the 2018 campaign. The Fever matched their longest losing streak to begin the season since the 2001 season when Indiana also began the year with five straight losses.
Indiana’s rookies scored 39 of 77 points in the game at Connecticut last Saturday. Both Mitchell and Victoria Vivians had hot hands from behind the arc, making a combined 7 of 13, and Stephanie Mavunga added eight points off the bench.
Mitchell, who has reached double-figure scoring for the fourth time in her first five pro games, scored 12 of her Indiana-high 18 points in the fourth quarter against Connecticut as Indiana played with a young lineup composed predominantly of four rookies and second-year forward Erica McCall.
Vivians used three 3-pointers and 5-of-8 shooting to finish with a season-high 13 points.
“We have to have more discipline on the little things,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman said after the loss to the Sun. “Unfortunately, that is a sign of our young team. If I had to draw a positive in a tough loss, I would point to the positive minutes we got from the younger players.”
New York swept the three-game regular-season series over Indiana last year for the first time since the 2001 season. After the Fever won six straight regular-season home games over the Liberty from 2013 to 2015, New York has won three of the past four times the teams have played in Indiana.