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Rookie showdown: Asia Durr outplays Arike Ogunbowale in Liberty's win

Liberty's Asia Durr drives past Minnesota Lynx's Danielle

Liberty's Asia Durr drives past Minnesota Lynx's Danielle Robinson during the first half on June 12, in White Plains. Credit: AP/Frank Franklin II

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Their teams had met up twice during this past college season when they were All-America guards in the ACC. But this was the first time these two top-five picks in the WNBA draft were going against each other in their new play-for-pay world.

Arike Ogunbowale’s Notre Dame team beat Asia Durr’s Louisville team both times then, the second time in the ACC title game. And both said they weren’t dwelling on the past. But Friday night the script was flipped.

Durr’s Liberty team beat Ogunbowale’s Dallas Wings team, 69-68, on Reshanda Gray’s tiebreaking free throw with 24.4 seconds left at Westchester County Center.

Ogunbowale had the worst shooting game of her young career, which contributed to the loss for Dallas (3-7). She shot 2-for-23 on the way to 10 points. Durr shot 6-for-10 and scored 14 for the Liberty (4-7). Kia Nurse led the team with 17.

“I just told Durr that I thought her defense was the best she’s done all year,” coach Katie Smith said. “She did a nice job on [Ogunbowale] along with everybody else.”

“That feels great to hear,” Durr said, “because that’s really what I’m focused on right now — defense.”

Durr, the second-leading scorer in Louisville history, began the night third among rookie scorers with an average of 12 points, including games of 20 and 19.

“I’ll tell you what, at the end of the day, the kid can flat-out play,” Smith said. “She can score.”

Ogunbowale, who hit two buzzer-beaters at the Final Four in 2018, is the all-time leading scorer in Notre Dame history. After scoring 25 and 23 in her previous two, Ogunbowale came in as the leading rookie scorer at 12.9 per game.

“Just trying to get comfortable,” she said before the game.

The Liberty cut it to 67-66 on a three-point play by Brittany Boyd with 3 minutes, 24 seconds left. Gray tied it at 68 on a drive with 1:58 left.

After Ogunbowale missed a drive with 51.6 seconds remaining, Gray was fouled going up for an offensive rebound with 24.4 left. She missed the first, then hit the second for the lead.

Ogunbowale missed a three and then another jumper. Brittany Boyd was fouled with 5.7 showing and missed two. Ogunbowale then missed a three-point flung and it was over.

Notes & quotes: The Liberty signed center Avery Warley-Talbert . . . Guard Tanisha Wright missed the game for personal reasons.

New York Sports