Liberty return home to face Chicago

The New York Liberty and head coach Bill Laimbeer are probably looking forward to returning home.

Coming off a 1-3 road trip, the Liberty (8-8) open a crucial homestand against the Chicago Fire on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

While closing out the road trip, the Liberty struggled against the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday, shooting only 35.4 percent in a game dominated by Mercury center Brittney Griner (31 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots).

Despite trailing by 17 and eventually losing by 12, the Liberty saw a silver lining in the loss.

“You want to feel good, especially with the All-Star break approaching,” Liberty All-Star Tina Charles said. “There was a certain way that we played — with energy and great effort. Everybody that stepped on the court contributed and showed what their strength is. We want to keep that rolling.”

The Liberty will have that opportunity on Friday at home, where New York is a different team. The Liberty average 82.4 points per game at the Garden where they are 5-3. On the road, New York scores at a 75.3 clip and is 3-5.

The one constant for the Liberty has been Charles. She is second in the league in scoring at 20.8 points per game and contributes 9.1 rebounds per game as well as 2.4 assists.

For her efforts, Charles on Tuesday was selected as a 2017 WNBA All-Star starter for the third time. She will be making her fifth appearance in the All-Star game, scheduled for July 22 in Seattle.

“No player in the WNBA works harder or means more to their team than Tina Charles,” said Laimbeer, who will coach the Eastern Conference squad.

Chicago (5-12) has a two-game winning streak after handing Dallas a 90-84 loss on Wednesday.

A pair of ex-DePaul players led the way for the Sky. Allie Quigley scored a game-high 22 points while Keisha Hampton came off the bench to toss in a season-high 12 points.

“Keisha has a great work ethic and a great basketball mind,” Quigley told the Daily Herald of Hampton. “She’s always ready to come in and shoot. Hard work has paid off for her.”

Hard work also has paid off for Quigley, a two-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award winner. Chicago is her fifth team and she leads the Sky in scoring at 16.4 points per game.

The Sky and Liberty have yet to play this season but have two more games against each other after Friday.