WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Amanda Zahui B. checked into the starting lineup for the Liberty this year after serving as a reserve in her previous four WNBA seasons. The 6-5 center has taken a large step forward in season five. But now it’s time for her to check out for a while.
Wednesday night’s 91-83 loss to Chicago at Westchester County Center marked her final game before leaving to go play for Team Sweden in the EuroBasket tournament that runs from June 27 through July 7.
After erupting for a career-high 37 points to power the Liberty to a win at Los Angeles Saturday, Zahui B. contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks Wednesday night.
“It’s bittersweet,” Zahui B. said. “I love playing for my country and I love fighting for the Olympic spot. I’ll go back to see my girls back home. But it [stinks] because I’m leaving my girls here.”
Asia Durr scored 19 points to lead the Liberty (3-6), who made just 39.5 percent of their shots. Tina Charles, who went 7-for-21, added 16 points and seven rebounds. Courtney Vandersloot delivered 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Sky (5-2).
Zahui B. is averaging 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Those numbers are all on a career-high pace.
“We’ll miss her a whole lot,” Charles said. “ . . . I think she’s the glue for this team.”
Four players are involved with the EuroBasket event, and Rebecca Allen is out with a broken hand. So the Liberty are down to nine. They’re allowed to bring in a temporary player .
“Obviously, they’ll be released when somebody comes back,” coach Katie Smith said.
The Sky opened up the fourth with a 9-2 burst, good for a 70-58 advantage.
Vandersloot’s jumper with 6:08 left stretched the margin to 13 before Zahui B. sandwiched threes around a Cheyenne Parker layup, chipping it to 78-69. When Kia Nurse hit a three, it was 78-74 with 3:46 remaining.
Zahui B. had a chance to cut it to 82-80, but she missed inside. Then Parker hit two free throws to make it 84-78 with 1:31 left.
The Liberty never got closer.
“We missed a lot of shots,” Charles said. “I know myself I missed a lot of shots. I’m very disappointed and bothered by that.”