WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — It was Connecticut vs. Louisville and Kia Nurse vs. Asia Durr.
“She’s a prolific scorer,” Nurse said earlier this month, flashing back to Feb. 12, 2018, when Durr scored 20 points but the host Huskies won, 69-58. “She has such an arsenal and an ability to get to the rim, knock down the three-ball. Offensively, you’ve got to know where she is. Your team has to defend her.
“But that was back in the days in Connecticut where I had the toughest matchup every game, and Asia was my matchup. But I love her passion for the game, her energy, and she’s a fun-loving kid. So that’s something you want to be around every day.”
Nurse is around Durr every day now, because the Liberty drafted Durr with the second overall pick last month. The 5-10 guard officially made her WNBA debut Friday night and scored eight points in 25 minutes off the bench as the Liberty opened their season with a last-shot 81-80 loss to the Indiana Fever at Westchester County Center.
“I love Asia’s game,” said Nurse, the guard/forward who was the 10th overall pick last year. “I’m really glad I don’t have to guard her anymore. That makes me happy.”
The Liberty finished 11th out of 12 teams in scoring last season while posting a franchise-worst 7-27 record, but Durr, who can play both guard spots, knows from scoring.
She set a school record with 2,764 points for St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta and ranks second in Louisville history with 2,485 points, including two 47-point games. She was a two-time first-team All-American.
“My goals for this year is just to learn as much as I can, be a sponge to these vets, be a great teammate, be a great player, and as a team, just win,” Durr said. “All I want to do is win.”
After receiving the Dawn Staley Award as the nation’s top guard, Durr could be in line for another big award, according to the WNBA’s general managers. They voted her and Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale as the co-favorites for Rookie of the Year.
“Durr, her game really fits well for the pros,” Liberty coach Katie Smith said. “It’s real smooth.”
Durr, however, averaged only 6.3 points in 21.3 minutes in four preseason contests as she began the process of making the adjustment to the speed, physicality and defensive strategy of the pro game.
“It’s been fast, but also learning how to read the game, read how your player is guarding you,” Durr said.
“These girls, they’re very strong, physical. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do is just try to stay on my feet, stay on balance and play stronger.”