Kiah Stokes has a record-setting block party in Liberty win over the Sun, 64-57
The New York Liberty (9-5) defeated the Connecticut Sun 64-57 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden to move into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference. The win was punctuated by a dominant defensive performance which included a franchise single-game record eight blocks from rookie Kiah Stokes. All-Star starter Tina Charles contributed 22 points and 12 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season and the 103rd of her career
Stokes had a highlight reel of swatted shots and solidified her spot as as premier interior defender in the WNBA. Five of those blocks came during the third quarter, and two of them were on the same offensive possession for the Sun (7-6). She also scored seven points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Epiphanny Prince was also in double figures for New York with 10 points.
Alex Bentley led the Sun with 15 points. Kelsey Bone and Shekinna Stricklen added 11 points each. Bone also pulled down eight rebounds.
The Liberty head out on a three-game road trip that takes them to to Phoenix on Saturday, July 18, then to Seattle (July 21) and Los Angeles (July 22). The Sun hosts the Indiana Fever on Saturday.
- It was the 7th game this year with at least 3 blocks for Stokes, now averaging 2.6 blocks per game. The eight blocks are the most in a WNBA game this season
- Tina Charles topped 20 points for the fifth time this year and the fourth over the last five games. She finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds for career double-double No. 103.
- After trailing 33-28 at the half, New York opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run, highlighted by a Prince 3-point play that gave them a 36-33 lead.
- New York outscored Connecticut 24-17 in the third quarter to take a 52-50 lead into the 4th; the Liberty are now 9-0 this year when leading heading into the fourth.
- The Liberty limited Connecticut to just 30.0 percent shooting, including 26.7 percent in the second half and 18.8 percent in the 4th quarter.
- New York lowered its league-leading defensive field goal percentage to 36.6 from 37.2 heading into the game.
- New York is now 6-2 in games decided by 6-10 points.
Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer
On Kiah Stokes
“I have to keep her on the floor. That’s saying a lot. She is only 22 and can provide the kind of energy that we need. She anchors our defense. And she’s looking to score a little bit more even though it is a work in progress offensively. You can see her dominating out there at times. Eight block shots – that’s a franchise record! The kid can guard everybody in the gym. She can guard guards and she has this year. If there’s a better defender in this league, I don’t see it. There may be some as good as her but not any better.”
On team win
“These wins are so important. We would have lost these games for the past two years easily. We would have folded, gave up and lost by 10. This is not that team. This is a quality team that takes a lot of pride.”
Liberty’s Tina Charles
On the second half push
“After the second quarter, we knew the guards had to do better defensively. Stopping their momentum helped us get going in the second half.”
On Kiah Stokes
“It could have been a different ball game…we don’t have shot blockers like that.
Kiah (Stokes) is great; she embraces her role on the team and that’s why we won the game.”
Liberty’s Kiah Stokes
On her blocking record
“I was excited. My teammates are trusting me more to pressure the ball. It was great to hear that I got the record and know I’m making an impact on the team.”
On Connecticut Sun
“Connecticut’s a great team. And we had to make sure we came out ready to play because they’re fighting for the same position as we are. We want to make it to the top of the Eastern Conference and so do they. We knew they were going to come out fighting so we made sure we were focused and ready to go.”
Connecticut Sun head coach Ann Donovan
On the tonight’s inside presence
“This is the biggest team we’ve faced thus far and probably the most physical team, but you know that’s New York’s identity. We really wanted to come at them and get some inside action and get some points in the paint, but you have to give New York some credit, they made our lives difficult.”
On the team chemistry
“Obviously we’re struggling a little bit. We got blown out of one game, so we’ve been competitive in every game. I think we’re seeing the sense of urgency you have to have on your home floor; nothing is going to come easy. We’re still a work in progress you know; nothing is going to come easy. I told you guys that early. We started out 7-1 and I knew there were going to be roller coasters in the season and we’re facing a valley now that we’re equipped to handle, and we will.”
Sun’s Alex Bentley
“I think we have to fight a little harder on defense. We got the shots that we wanted but they unfortunately didn’t get it done.”
“Playing 40 minutes a game wears on you, but you cant think about that you just have to do what you have to do for your teammates.”
Sun’s Shekinna Stricklen
“I think we got off to a good start the energy was there. We had to get out and have a spark. We just have to stick together and keep fighting especially in the fourth quarter, we could have won tonight.”
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Sun 20, Liberty 22
Second Chance Points: Sun 2, Liberty 6
Fastbreak Points: Sun 6, Liberty 2
Biggest Lead: Sun 9, Liberty 8
Lead Changes: 13
Times Tied: 10