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Liberty suffer bad loss to Connecticut Sun in final game before Olympic break

Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones puts up a

Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones puts up a shot against the Liberty in the second half of a WNBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

There’s a break in the action now for the Liberty, a long timeout before their 11-game run to the finish line.

The WNBA is hitting the pause button for its Olympic break, which follows Wednesday night’s All-Star Game. so the Liberty’s next game isn’t scheduled until Aug. 15.

They can use a break after closing with two double-digit losses.

Jonquel Jones posted 17 points and 17 rebounds in Connecticut’s 71-54 win on Sunday at Barclays Center, leaving the Liberty at 10-11, but still among the top eight in the playoff race.

"Effort’s good with us, generally; execution has not been," coach Walt Hopkins said. "So we’ve got work to do."

It will have to wait a while for the next practice.

Kylie Shook hit a career-high four threes and scored a career-high 16 points for the Liberty. But All-Star Betnijah Laney, Sami Whitcomb and Sabrina Ionescu combined for just eight points, including 0-for-6 from the field from Ionescu and zero points.

The Liberty shot 30.4%, got outrebounded 42-34, were outscored 24-14 in the paint and committed 16 turnovers, leading to 19 points. All in all, it wasn’t a good look, although they had some tiring travel issues getting to and from Indiana the previous three days.

"Certainly, it affected us against Indiana [Friday]; there’s no question," Hopkins said. "We had players at the ESPYs [Saturday] night … right after another travel delay on the way home. It factors in. I don’t know the extent to which it does."

Hopkins is expecting to have Natasha Howard, the offseason’s marquee acquisition, back after the break. The 6-2 forward/center has missed 19 of the 21 games, including the last 15 with a a sprained medial collateral ligament in her left knee.

"Missing Tash is huge," Hopkins said.

The Liberty lost by 21 when they faced the Sun in Connecticut on June 5. This time, they were down eight in the third quarter while holding Jones to five points.

Then she converted a layup, buried consecutive threes from the left side and hit a free throw, making it a 9-0 run for the 6-6 All-Star forward.

The Sun (14-6) expanded that into a 16-0 run, good for a 55-31 cushion with 2:02 left in the quarter.

But the Liberty also ran cold early on, shooting 3-for-15 and falling behind 22-12 after one quarter.

"As a team, where we have to grow coming from this half of the season to the next half [is] when shots don’t fall, we can’t let that affect our defense," said Jazmine Jones, who scored 10 off the bench. "I think we did that in a lot of games this year, as everybody saw."

New York Sports